Class of 2023 Biographies

Hector Alonzo Jr l Houston

My name is Hector Alonzo Jr. In December 2018, I earned my Bachelors of Science in Biology degree from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona. During my undergraduate career, my favorite courses were Anatomy & Physiology and Pharmacology. These classes spiked my interest in pursuing a career in anesthesia. There are several aspects that excite me about this profession. I really like how there is a good balance of intellectual knowledge and hands on application. I am really excited about studying at Case Western Reserve University! One of the main things that excites me about the MSA program here at CWRU is the early exposure we receive in the operating room and hospital settings. I am really looking forward to starting my career in anesthesia along with working with all of my professors and classmates. 

Ruth Bartel, Washington l D.C.

I was born and raised in the small mountain town of Salida, Colorado. After graduating high school, I went on to complete my bachelor’s degree at Colorado State University. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare; this was nurtured by my studies along with working as a CNA throughout college. After graduating college, I decided to take a gap year to find what healthcare profession would best suit me. I began working as a GI technician, where I would soon find out about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. I saw in them exactly what I was looking for in a career. Each CAA that I met gave such amazing care to their patients and were readily adaptable to the quickly changing environment that is medicine. On top of that, they all seemed to love their job and what they did every day. The CAAs that I knew who attended CWRU were exceptional and spoke very highly of their education. I am confident that training through CWRU will prepare me well to enter the next chapter in my life as a certified anesthesiologist assistant. 

Diana Behar, Washington l D.C.

I grew up in Miami, Florida, and graduated from Boston University with a degree in neuroscience. My experience working at a neurology medical practice for adult patients and a pediatric neurology/ neurosurgery in-patient hospital unit solidified my desire to serve as a healthcare professional. While exploring healthcare career options, I began volunteering at local health fairs held in underserved communities throughout South Florida. While at a health fair, a friend and fellow volunteer recommended the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. Soon after, I began shadowing CAAs at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami and was impressed with their level of competence, knowledge, and autonomy within the operating room. I was captivated by the variety of cases a CAA encounters daily and the skill sets drawn upon for each. I am thrilled to start my CAA journey as a part of the CWRU family. I believe that my educational and experiential background coupled with the direction of faculty and staff will promote my development as a highly-skilled anesthetist and integral OR team member.

 Hannah Bottin l Cleveland

I had an amazing undergraduate experience at the University of California, Davis. Studying Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior allowed me to gain an understanding of the complexities of the human body and drove my interest in a career in health. With my sights set on pursuing a Master of Science in Anesthesia, I chose electives that dove deeper into physiology and pharmacology. Anesthesia fascinates me because every case presents a new and unique challenge. I’m excited for the chance to learn at Case Western Reserve University, one of the founding programs and an institution that is always at the forefront of research and innovation. I am eager for the opportunity to meet and learn from top professionals in the field of anesthesia. I love meeting and connecting with new people. Working in an active and busy environment such as the healthcare field will give me the chance to connect with patients and support them in their time of need. 

Tien Bui, Washington l D.C.

While striving to obtain my bachelor's degree in biology at Georgia State University, my undergraduate years have led me into clinical research in colon cancer and working at an ER as a medical scribe. The combination of studying and working in the medical field has prepared me to apply the foundation of basic science and medical science toward taking care of my future patients. I have grown tremendously as a person which I believe has prepared me for the MSA program. I cannot wait to work with my peers, administrative staff, and clinical staff to continue making a difference and impacting lives. As a certified anesthesiologist assistant, I believe being proactive, caring, and observant are all key characteristics that are needed to be successful and able to reach my personal and professional goals. I believe everyone deserves a second chance to live a better life and specifically for those with medical conditions, that is where CAAs will make a difference.

Courtney Campbell, Washington l D.C.

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. My love for the manipulation of physiology led me towards a career as a physical therapist assistant. During this time, I became comfortable with more acute and subacute healthcare dynamics. However, I desired a more immediate outcome than what Physical Therapy could offer. Knowing this, combined with my experience in coaching basketball, led me towards the certified anesthesiologist assistant career. This career combines immediate feedback dynamics in a team setting. Outside of career and education, I enjoy the dynamics of sports, music, and understanding burgeoning technology. 

Drew Capuzzi, Washington l D.C.

I received my bachelor’s degree in biology from James Madison University in 2020. Throughout most of my undergraduate career, I planned to go to medical school because of my fascination with medical science. However, I initially did not consider alternative careers in the medical field. Through experience shadowing a dentist who occasionally administered anesthesia and by working in my research lab where I routinely anesthetized crickets, I became interested in the field of anesthesia. In addition, physiology was my favorite scientific subject to study in school. When I discovered the certified anesthesiologist assistant career, it seemed like a perfect fit for me. Shadowing multiple anesthesia providers confirmed my desire to become an CAA. I look forward to using my critical thinking skills and deep knowledge of anesthesia science to provide the best care possible for my patients. The CWRU MSA program in D.C. was my first choice mainly due to the emphasis on early clinical exposure and location in a city that would allow me to work with a very diverse pool of patients. I am very excited to start my journey into the incredible field of anesthesia.

Siham Chaffag l Cleveland

I was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. I immigrated to the United States in 2009 and have lived in Cleveland, Ohio ever since. I graduated from Cleveland State University in May 2019 with a degree in Health Sciences and a minor in Arabic. Throughout my education, I have always been passionate about a career in healthcare. However, I was ambiguous about which career path in the medical field I wished to pursue. When I was presented with an opportunity to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant (CAA), I was immediately attracted to it, as I knew becoming a CAA is where my passion lies. I was intrigued by the team-based approach to healthcare provided to every patient between the CAA and the rest of the surgical team. After shadowing for several hours and observing the work environment's constant change, my interest was piqued. I enjoyed the balance between autonomy and the safety net provided by the attending anesthesiologist when needed. The field left me hungry for more information, so I started to do my research. This led me to realize that this career path aligns with my personality and will positively impact my personal growth and keep me challenged.

Katelyn Chastain l Cleveland

I graduated from Florida Institute of Technology in May 2020 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. I have always had a caring heart that longed to help others in any capacity which led me towards the medical field and a series of careers ranging from engineering medical equipment, being a doctor, becoming a PA, and finally becoming a CAA. The CAA profession was brought to my attention by a colleague in my biochemistry class, he introduced the field to me. After shadowing a CAA, it further solidified my plans to pursue the profession and specifically CWRU’s MSA program. While in the OR, I learned about the atmosphere and enjoyed the structure. I took a year off between graduating with my bachelor’s degree and attending CWRU, in which I worked as a pharmacy technician slowly gaining knowledge about medications and their effects on the human body; this made me even more eager to attend the MSA program. I am beyond excited to chase my dreams and goals by attending Case Western Reserve MSA program in Cleveland.

Amelia Chen l Houston

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a major in Economics and a minor in Chemistry. Having grown up watching my grandfather practice medicine, I admire and respect the healthcare field. After shadowing multiple specialties, I found the way a surgical team is orchestrated to be fascinating. It was also through shadowing that I learned about the various roles inside an operating room. Physiology was one of my favorite classes from my undergraduate years. Naturally, my attention was led to the anesthesia part of the OR. On the other hand, I also have strong interests in foreign languages and current events. Before entering the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve, I spent a little over a year working as an English teacher in a small town in Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. Because of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I could hone both my Japanese language skills and the ability to live in a foreign country independently. I am thankful to CWRU for granting me a year to fulfill this goal. As I have experienced the program's support for its students’ personal and professional goals, I am ecstatic to begin my training and return to the classroom again.

Eva Chen l Houston

Born in the U.S. but raised in Belize, I moved to Texas to attend college and obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Nutritional Sciences at UT Austin. Growing up, I had terrible experiences with rude and aloof medical providers while living in Belize, as well as during my summer vacations in China. These experiences were the driving force behind my reason to work in healthcare so that I can treat patients the way I wanted to be treated as a patient myself. I want to give patients the treatment and respect that I had not received. I discovered the CAA profession through a CRNA’s recommendation. I almost ignored her words because I wanted a profession that has more patient interaction. I had a preconceived notion that anesthetists only administer drugs and do not interact with patients, but I am glad I was wrong. After shadowing a CAA, I discovered that they do have more patient interaction than I originally assumed. The experience that solidified my desire to become a CAA was during the Labor and Delivery clinicals for my EMT program. One of the most engaged people in the OR was the anesthetist, who updated and reassured the patient throughout the entire C-section. After witnessing how involved and excited the anesthetist was with the patient, I immediately knew that I wanted to become a part of the anesthesia care team model.

Samantha Crabtree l Houston

I graduated from Berry College in Rome, Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science and minors in both Psychology and Chemistry. Throughout my undergraduate experience, I was able to continue my love for softball and learn valuable lessons and experiences that I will use as a great foundation for my time in the CWRU MSA Program. I am excited to translate my skills and love for being part of a team into my new role in healthcare as a CAA. My initial interest in becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant happened when a surgeon, a guest speaker in one of my introductory courses, mentioned a CAA as a career path. After learning more about the profession and shadowing various members of the anesthesia care team, I knew that anesthesia would be a great fit for me and the lifestyle I want for myself. I am so thankful to have this opportunity from CWRU in Houston to learn and grow as a CAA student over the next 2 years! 

Jessica Davis Gunn l Houston 

I was born in Houston, Texas, but was raised in Pensacola, Florida. I earned my bachelor's degree in Biochemistry at the University of West Florida in 2019. While in college I received research experience in a chemistry lab. I learned that I was more interested in the applications of research, rather than the performance of it. I had the opportunity to shadow at the local endoscopy center, where I became aware of the CAA program. The certified anesthesiologist assistant profession allows you to help a patient along every step of their journey through the hospital in addition to how the profession provides a great work life balance. CWRU allows you to get clinical experience right away, which is one of the factors that drew me to the school. I'm beyond excited to begin my journey at CWRU!

Makenzi Dawson l Houston

I grew up in Waco, Texas. I graduated from the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor in December of 2019 with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. I have always known that I wanted to pursue a career in medicine and working as a medical scribe reaffirmed my decision, and also helped me realize that medical school is not the only option. When I first learned about the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession, I knew right away that it was the perfect career path for me. It is a career that is challenging, rewarding, allows excellent work-life balance, and will allow me to serve others. Being a part of an anesthesiology care team and getting to work in the OR is an occupation that I am truly excited about. I look forward to starting the CWRU MSA program and to joining the growing field of certified anesthesiologist assistants. 

Spencer Dechert l Cleveland

I was born and raised in Davie, a small city just outside of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I attended Florida State University and received my bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences with a focus in Clinical Professions. Throughout my 4 years, I was fortunate enough to participate in undergraduate research, volunteer with the Florida State University Medical Response Unit, and serve as a teaching assistant for several undergraduate classes. When I look back, I am so grateful that I became involved early on at Florida State as each activity served as a unique learning experience for an aspiring healthcare provider. Originally, I had planned on attending medical school, however, my plans soon changed after shadowing a certified anesthesiologist assistant. Through shadowing, I appreciated the variety of cases certified anesthesiologist assistants participate in and their level of responsibility and autonomy in the operating room. Ultimately, this experience led me to apply to the CWRU MSA program and train with some of the best around the country. As an anesthetist, I hope to draw upon my clinical interests in the operating room to become an accomplished anesthetist while serving as an advocate to fuel the growth and development of the profession.

Yuliang (Bill) Ding l Cleveland

During my childhood in Shanghai China, I often saw my grandparents boil Chinese medicine to fortify our family's wellness, and I was fascinated at how traditional herbal remedies are different from modern Western medicine. Curious as to how Western medical technologies can be applied to diverse fields in healthcare, I came to the United States and pursued a biomedical engineering degree at Case Western Reserve University. Through bench research and shadowing, I became interested in the field of anesthesiology, where I found an intimate connection between anesthesia equipment and my undergraduate major. After gaining more exposure, I realized that a career in anesthesia would enable me to apply my knowledge to monitoring patients' vitals during operations, bring a technological perspective to teamwork, and offer humanistic care to patients. Pursuing the MSA degree at CWRU enables me to continue my educational experience at the same university and receive one of the nation’s best training in anesthesia. As a future anesthetist, I hope to promote my soft skill development and acquire professional knowledge, so that more solicitude can be provided to patients beyond perioperative care. This enduring passion in anesthesia solidified my pursuit to go beyond the little house where my family boiled traditional medicine, to be the one at the forefront of healthcare.

Madison Ditta l Houston

I attended Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science. I have always been interested in health, medicine, and science, but was unsure of the best career path for me for a long time. After completing an internship at a medical device company and volunteering at a hospital for 2 years, I realized that I would enjoy direct patient care more than being on the business side of medicine. After lots of research, I came across the certified anesthesiologist assistant career and instantly knew it was for me. My curiosity and fascination with anesthesia paired with my love for patient interaction is what sold me to pursue this career. I am very excited to be attending CWRU to undergo this journey because it has been my dream program for the Master of Science in Anesthesia for a while now. With its location in Houston, Texas, and having been in Houston my whole life, it allows me the opportunity to work towards my future career while staying close to friends and family. I am beyond excited to use my skills and talents to make a difference in the lives of others and become the best CAA I can possibly be!

Anwaar Eddir l Cleveland

I received my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry with a minor in Classical Studies from John Carroll University. My undergraduate experience was very challenging and rigorous and with the help of all my professors, they prepared me for the MSA program by ensuring that we are capable of any challenge that comes our way. As a student, I am ecstatic about learning new information and continuing my love of knowledge. My interest in chemistry and science drew me to this profession as I was intrigued by the effects of drugs on the human body. I was able to take many courses regarding the biological pathways affected, side effects, and mechanisms of reactions. I knew I wanted to continue this learning for the rest of my career, but I also wanted to be in the healthcare field. I found that the CAA profession has the perfect balance of patient interaction, operating room experience, and chemistry making each day a new adventure. The MSA Program at CWRU is unique in the fact that the students will be in the operating room within the first month of beginning the program. Also, CWRU has the best reputation for ensuring their students are prepared.

Justin Egleston l Houston

I was born in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and largely grew up there. I had an early interest in the sciences, followed by fitness and anatomy. After graduating high school, I got into personal training. A few years later, I still wished to learn and achieve more. I entered Austin Community College wanting to become a nurse with a long-term goal of becoming a CRNA. Partway through, I realized I had a serious shot of pursuing medical school if I wished, which had previously seemed unattainable. I then transferred to University of Texas at Austin for my undergraduate degree majoring in Biology. After graduating, I worked as a medical scribe while preparing to apply for medical school. However, as an older non-traditional student, the prospective timeline of becoming a doctor never sat comfortably with me. Starting to miss being a part of high-level patient care I had initially prepared myself for when considering nursing, I explored my options. Accidentally, I heard someone recommending the career of certified anesthesiologist assistant for people like me and I was drawn in by the growth of a profession that is looking to expand into other regions of the United States. I find that additional context intriguing to work under and would thoroughly enjoy being an advocate for the profession while also providing care to patients.

Anisha Galla l Cleveland

I am from Palatine, Illinois, a northwest suburb of Chicago. I attended the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and a minor in Business. As I have no family pursuing any health-related career, I was never naturally exposed to the world of medicine. My interest in anesthesia first piqued when I shadowed abroad. Being inside the main OR and viewing operations live was something I never knew I could tolerate, let alone be engrossed by. I was fascinated by the wonders of medical intervention and, in particular, the role of anesthesia in life-altering surgical procedures. As an individual who prefers working in conjunction with others rather than operating autonomously, I am thrilled by the collaborativeness of the care team model that CAAs take part in. I am grateful for this opportunity to pursue the knowledge needed to protect and guide vulnerable patients towards good health. I am very excited and honored to join the MSA team and to further my education at Case Western Reserve University. 

Helena Guo l Washington, D.C.

I grew up in the charming coastal town of Charleston, SC and received my undergraduate education in the upstate, at Clemson University. My academic interests have always favored science courses, which led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering. As a result, I have had the pleasure of participating in a variety of medical research and industry projects, but it left me wanting a more personal and intimate approach to healthcare, which is what ultimately led me to the MSA program. My experiences have taught me to become a critical thinker and a team player, which will be valuable skills to succeed as an MSA student and eventually, as a CAA. I am excited to tackle all aspects of this career and to play a direct role in the health and wellness of our patient population. 

Reilly Haas l Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in the Columbus, Ohio area. I graduated from Ohio State University in May of 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience. I always knew I wanted to work in the healthcare profession, and I am incredibly grateful to have found CWRU MSA program to help me continue on my journey into this field. Throughout college, I worked at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center as a Patient Care Associate which only solidified my love for working with patients in a hospital setting. After shadowing an anesthesiologist and an anesthetist, I fell in love with the OR and the work that they performed. Being born and raised in Ohio, I was looking for a change of setting for this next phase in my life, which is why I am beyond thrilled to pursue my MSA in Washington, D.C. in the class of 2023!

Blake Harvey l Cleveland

I was born in Long Beach, California, and graduated from Old Dominion University with a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2020. I was not one of those individuals who knew that I wanted to be a part of the medical field until much later in life. Before attending ODU, I spent roughly 6 years serving in the NAVY as a fire controlman where I learned that I was not a fan of working on electronics. However, I did learn that I enjoyed a team-focused atmosphere, and before separating I spent some time working in the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. That is where my interest in anesthesia began. During my undergraduate career, I was the co-founder of The Global Brigades club where Pre-Health Students could fundraise for a trip to Ghana in order to provide medical care to those in need. I worked with the Wounded Warrior Project helping wounded veterans, and spent time conducting research for various departments within ODU. I am excited to be pursuing a career within the anesthesia care team and to be a part of a rapidly expanding profession, one that I can help push forward. This is one of the reasons why I specifically chose the CWRU MSA Program as I feel it will provide me with the tools necessary to advocate for the field. I feel incredibly honored to be given the opportunity to attend such an amazing university and I could not be more excited to get started at CWRU Cleveland!

Zoe Haynes l Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in North Carolina and decided to go to Washington D.C. for undergrad, where I attended Howard University, majoring in Political Science. It was here where I fell in love with the community and wanted to make a difference where I could. I developed a passion for public policy and community development. I grew painfully aware of the healthcare disparities in the community, especially in the Shaw neighborhood. However, instead of pursuing a political route, I wanted hands-on experience in healthcare. I was introduced to the CAA field and immediately felt it was the best option for my skill set. I am extremely excited to begin my education in Washington, D.C., and look forward to learning from peers, faculty, and patients.

Sam Hitchcock l Cleveland

I was born and raised in Northeast Ohio, where I also received a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Humanities from Hiram College. My time at Hiram prepared me for CWRU MSA Program because it taught me the science background needed to succeed as a healthcare professional, as well as how to care for a patient beyond physical ailment. Throughout my time at Hiram, I had many volunteer and shadowing experiences, and loved my time spent in the operating room. I look forward to the time spent in the OR, and the MSA Program at CWRU stood out to me for how quickly they place students in the operating room. My life experiences have prepared me to work well as a part of a care team and to perform in high-pressure situations. I am also very excited to work, and study, in the hospitals that I have grown up going to as a patient.

Alaina Jacks l Houston

Growing up, I did gymnastics, but I wanted to do ballet, so I did both. When I danced, I wanted to do horseback riding, so I added that. When I rode, I wanted to play an instrument, so I added cello. Then I wanted to run track… I’ve always wanted to pursue many different interests, and I’ve never wanted to be limited to just one. I love medicine and languages, so at Baylor (Sic ‘em!), I majored in Biology and Spanish. I thought my freedom to pursue different interests would end with medical school forcing me to pick one. Thankfully, I shadowed an anesthesiologist who told me that, if he could do it again, he would have trained as a CAA. While shadowing, CAAs in the OR seemed like the happiest people there. They loved medicine and helping patients but had outside interests. I began to shadow CAAs and CWRU’s MSA students, and I was impressed with the program’s academic strength, its focus on getting students in the OR quickly, and its supportive atmosphere. I hope to use my Spanish skills to put patients at ease; I hope to use the practice skills I developed doing ballet, horseback riding, and cello to learn many anesthesia practices; I hope to use the teaching skills I developed during a public health trip to Brazil to communicate with patients who aren’t familiar with medical concepts, and I hope to enjoy the work/life balance the profession offers. I feel blessed to have this opportunity.

Farren Jenkins l Houston

I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I have worked as a supplemental instruction leader, community assistant, and laboratory technician. I also volunteered with organizations that promote academic and professional development within African American communities. Through these experiences, I have acquired skills in leadership, effective communication, organization, and self-discipline. My passion for serving others and critical thinking skills will enhance my work as a certified anesthesiologist assistant by allowing me to comfort patients during the most stressful times in their lives, as well as working through dynamic patient cases. The work variability and continuous support that certified anesthesiologist assistants provide their patients excites me about the profession. I am excited to study anesthesia at CWRU MSA because they have an unparalleled affiliate network that will expose me to patients with varying demographics and cases. In addition, the CWRU MSA Program’s mission is to train the best anesthetists in the world, and I want to be one of the best. This program provides a rigorous curriculum that will build my confidence in the OR and help me to provide high quality patient care. I am enthusiastic about becoming a CAA and creating a positive experience for my future patients.

Samuel Kang l Washington, D.C.

I graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in biochemistry. By pursuing a Master of Science in Anesthesia, I hope to keep fueling my passion for learning and extend my knowledge of the human body to offer personalized care for patients. I wish to not only comfort and address the concerns of patients in a concise manner during pre and post-operation to provide personalized care but to also use my meticulous nature to support the lives of patients during operation. I hope to perform direct hands-on care in the OR, while also integrating decision-making skills to anticipate and adapt to critical problems. Through CWRU's MSA program, I hope to use my various skills during critical moments to collectively contribute to the healthcare team’s effort and support the lives of patients.

Ali Khurshid l Houston

I have always been interested in healthcare. While taking undergraduate courses in biology and chemistry, I was still unclear about a career path so I decided to continue my education within the biomedical sciences. After completing a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences, I discovered certified anesthesiologist assistant programs and I became intrigued. After shadowing, my interest in anesthesia was solidified. I found the prospect of working in the operating room alongside an interdisciplinary team appealing. As an undergraduate student, I thoroughly enjoyed science courses including organic chemistry and pharmacology. I found the complexity of medications used in anesthesia to be captivating and would be a natural progression of my studies. Additionally, I grew up helping my father with repairs around the house. As an adult, my hobbies include working on vehicles and computers, tasks that utilize manual dexterity. It is very exciting to learn about similar challenges found in anesthesia care. The road to a fulfilling career is often allusive and precarious in nature, ultimately discovering the relatively new Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant programs has been an exciting progression in my journey. It is an honor to be associated with a prestigious institution that is as well-respected as Case Western Reserve University. In particular, the CWRU MSA program is well-established and has been at the forefront of the CAA profession. 

Matthew Klafter l Cleveland

I grew up in the northern metro Atlanta area before attending undergrad at Syracuse University. I received a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Health and Exercise Science and minoring in Psychology and Biology. My studies primarily focused on human physiology, specifically cardiopulmonary and muscle physiology. My most influential experience came when I was selected to be a subject and research assistant on an expedition to Mount Everest Base Camp to study the effects of acute hypoxia on lowland native populations. While there, I was able to further grasp concepts regarding cardiopulmonary and renal physiology. I quickly became fascinated with these areas of study and knew I wanted to pursue further education that involved these disciplines. My studies have better prepared me for the MSA program as many of these concepts are involved in the practice of anesthesia. I look forward to applying my experiences to my continued education as I train to become a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant at Case Western Reserve University. While I have family in Cleveland, it is the well-regarded reputation of the University and the MSA program that has made me very eager to begin my studies and practice. 

Michael Kmentt l Cleveland

I attended undergraduate school at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and graduated in the spring of 2020 receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology. I was initially planning on going into the field of dentistry as I had been shadowing and assisting in dental offices at the time. During my junior year, I started to realize that I was more comfortable with dentistry than passionate about it, so I started looking into other fields of healthcare. I wanted to stay in healthcare as I really enjoyed working hands-on with patients. I looked into medical school, PA, PT, OT, CAA and CRNA programs. I started to do some shadowing for both CAA and CRNA and they immediately stood out and intrigued me. What I enjoyed most was the patient interactions. Having grown up in the Cleveland area, CWRU was the obvious choice to me. I’m looking forward to the program starting and the clinical rotations.

Alexi Krause l Houston

My name is Alexi Krause and I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biology with a Pre-Health Professions certificate from The University of Texas at Austin in 2017. From a young age, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in healthcare, but it wasn’t clear to me where I could best utilize my passions for science and medicine without going to medical school. This led me to find a job in clinical research where I worked on a team assessing postoperative pain control of a topical analgesic. While there were aspects of clinical research I enjoyed, I quickly realized it wasn’t fulfilling. The parts I enjoyed the most, such as interacting with patients, were only a small part of the job. My father suggested I look into the MSA Program. After many hours of online research and conversations with CAA’s, I decided this profession was exactly what I was looking for. The field would allow me to work directly with patients in an OR setting, utilizing my science knowledge and problem-solving skills, all while having a direct impact on the patient's lives. I am grateful and excited to begin my academic journey at CWRU, and I know that the skills I learn will prepare me to become a great certified anesthesiologist assistant. 

Kassidy Lee l Washington, D.C.

Born and raised in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, I graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Sciences and minor in Public Health. During my undergraduate program, I was heavily involved in studying abroad and with active volunteerism in the community, where I enjoyed directly interacting with others and giving back to the community. Under the pre-med track, I was passionate about pursuing a career in healthcare, however, I was unsure in what capacity. Learning more about the role of a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant from the USF Pre-AA Club, I realized the importance of anesthesia providers in the anesthesia care team model. After shadowing various CAAs and anesthesiologists, I enjoyed learning about how each case was prepared with a tailored anesthesia care plan to fit the patient’s needs. Observing various interactions among the anesthesia care team, the approaches to critical thinking, effective communication, and collaboration were key elements to providing quality patient care. I am excited to embark on this new journey in the CWRU MSA Program and look forward to being a part of the compassionate community of anesthetists. I am most excited to begin this program to learn to become a highly-skilled CAA.

Ramiro Lopez l Houston

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and earned my bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. I am a first generation middle school, high school, and college graduate, and learned English watching cartoons. Teamwork and hard work have always been pillars in my life and that is exactly what drew me to the profession of a certified anesthesiologist assistant. I can appreciate the unity of the anesthesia care team model as well as each individual’s dedication and commitment to team success. In particular, I believe that CWRU Houston and Hermann Memorial Texas Medical Center present opportunities to learn from some of the best medical minds and can’t wait to get started. I have a passion for service, and being in the medical field allows me the opportunity to selfishly pursue selfless goals. In addition, I am a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) member, and trained in basic disaster response skills, including disaster medical operations. In my free time I enjoy spending time with my Shih Tzu named Blue, being outdoors, working out, and watching LA Galaxy games. I also enjoy performing statistical analysis in soccer.

Daohan Lu l Cleveland

Since I was a kid, I have been curious about life. When I witnessed one of my family members pass away, I wondered what was keeping us alive; when I got sick, I wondered how the pills that I took could cure me… In search of these answers, I majored in biochemistry in college. Throughout my undergraduate period, I participated in biochemical research and took several clinically related classes like anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, and pharmacology. In those classes, I not only studied the structure of the human body, biochemical pathways, protein structures, and pharmacology principles themselves, but also learned how it could be applied to real-life and help people clinically. I found science interesting and its clinical applications exciting. Moreover, as I was taking those science classes, I began to learn more about anesthesia, became very interested and wanted to become an anesthetist. After learning about the MSA program at CWRU, I was attracted by the number of clinical experiences we could gain as we are still taking the didactic classes. I am excited to start this program which not only teaches me the science behind anesthesia but also trains me into an anesthetist who can apply the classroom knowledge clinically and improve patients’ quality of life. 

Beck Lundeen l Cleveland

I was born and raised in Central New York and attended college at SUNY Geneseo. In 2020, I graduated with bachelor degrees in Biology and Geography. I was on a pre-med track throughout college, but quite unsure of my direction within the field. My breakthrough occurred during shadowing experiences at Upstate Medical University Hospital and Cortland Regional Medical Hospital. There I found enjoyment in the technical skill sets exhibited by the anesthesia care team. After researching options, and conversing with university advisors, I found that becoming a CAA was the best, personal fit. After graduation I wanted to obtain some hands-on medical experience, so I became a CNA. It was a great entry-level position that helped develop my medical knowledge and communication skills. Combining my current knowledge, with the rigorous education from CWRU’s program, has me very excited for the future. Joining CWRU’s class of 2023 is an honor, and I am thrilled to be in a program that has historically produced highly proficient CAAs. I am highly looking forward to developing my skills as a CAA and providing individuals with the best possible care. 

Anna Macerelli l Cleveland

I was raised in Independence, Ohio, a suburb of the Cleveland area. I graduated from Cuyahoga Community College with an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. Directly after, I continued my education at Cleveland State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. Working as a Cosmetologist and Registered Dental Hygienist throughout my undergraduate career, created a solid foundation for client/patient care. During this time, I was able to showcase one of my strengths including excellent bedside manner. As a Dental Hygienist, there are not many career advancement opportunities. So, the desire to go back to school for higher education presented itself early on in my career. This education needed to be intellectually challenging, but also everything I love about working in the medical field such as close patient interactions, delivering local anesthesia, and the need to expand my knowledge as a healthcare professional. While researching medical professions, I was introduced to the idea of becoming a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant. After finding the CAA career path, the next step was to shadow at University Hospital. I was inspired by the environment and the caliber of people that surrounded me. I envisioned myself doing this for the rest of my life and am excited to help patients feel comfortable with their healthcare experience. I look forward to utilizing the skills that I have acquired as well as learning more while attending Case Western Reserve University’s Master of Science in Anesthesia Program!

Rushali Malatkar l Cleveland

I grew up in St. Louis, MO and I graduated from Saint Louis University with a Psychology, B.S and a minor in Biology. While in school, I worked part-time as an ER scribe and I also worked full-time as a Rheumatology/Internal Medicine scribe. My background as a pre-medicine track prepared me for an MD path. However, COVID-19 isolation gave me time to reflect on my
personal aspirations and future growth. I decided not to pursue an MD and started looking for other careers that had the job satisfaction I want but also the work-life balance I need. Becoming a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant will be a great path for me to use my academic and technical skills earlier than I would in other health professional fields. I will also play a significant role in delivering anesthesia for life-saving procedures to patients in need. I chose CWRU because of its in-depth and rigorous program along with its networking opportunities. The curriculum has clinical experience and lectures with synchronized schedules which will help solidify my technical skills with the information presented in class. The membership to AAAA was also attractive especially since it is a terrific opportunity to network with peers and current CAA
faculty. CWRU is a partner with many top-ranking hospitals, and the education that I will receive will be stellar. I am excited to begin my career with the MSA program at CWRU and looking forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

Sahana Manikandan l Houston

I was born in Dallas, Texas and have lived here all my life. I am an avid dancer, and was on my university's dance team for the past 3 years, while still maintaining my cultural roots by continuing my classical indian dance (Bharatanatyam) training. Dance is still my biggest passion! I attended the University of Texas at Dallas with a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience on a Pre-Medical track. As an undergraduate, I worked in a Habit Learning Lab that maps motor nerves circuits that simulate many prevalent motor nerve diseases. Initially, I started out on the pathway towards medical school with the hope of eventually doing anesthesia. However, a year into my Bachelor’s degree, I learned about the MSA program, and became immediately interested in the direct pathway to anesthesia that the Case Western Reserve University MSA provided into the workforce. After shadowing other anesthesia providers and seeing the intricacies of this profession, I knew this was where I wanted to be. I am extremely blessed to foray into this profession alongside many of my like minded peers in this cohort, and I am looking forward to
being at the forefront of this profession and advocating for AA’s on a national level.

Sidney Mann l Cleveland

I come from a small rural community just outside Cincinnati, Ohio! After high school I ventured to Columbus where I attended The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) and graduated with my Bachelor's of Science in biology and a minor in chemistry. Throughout my time in school, I always had my heart set on a career in healthcare, so I followed a Pre-Medicine track. I had many opportunities to shadow in the operating room and fell in love with the atmosphere from my first experience! However, I continued to explore the multiple advanced practice careers in healthcare that exist. Now, I have finally committed to the fantastic gem that is the Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant profession! For me, being a CAA will encompass all that I love about medicine. I look forward to making a critical, positive impact on each patient while working as part of a dynamic team in a field that continually captivates. In addition, I am so proud to embark on this journey at Case Western Reserve University! As one of the earliest programs, I have full confidence that CWRU will provide me with all the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed. I am beyond ecstatic to begin my career as a CAA!

Jeffrey Mansfield-Walker l Houston

My name is Jeffrey Mansfield-Walker and I am 23 years old. I am about to graduate from the University of Oklahoma in Comprehensive Health Analysis, a Multidisciplinary Studies degree. I spent the first 20 years of my life in a suburb about 40 minutes outside of downtown Houston, Texas. I have very warm memories of my childhood and early adulthood in Kingwood, and ever since transferring to the University of Oklahoma my sophomore year of college, I have had hopes of coming back to the Houston area. When I found out I had been accepted into the Case Western Reserve CAA program, it took no time at all for me make my decision. I found out about this program through one of my best friends, Brendon Dent, who grew up on the same street as me in Kingwood. Sure enough, soon after I received my acceptance letter from the Houston program, Brendon received his. We were both stunned. Anyways, we had both been ambivalent about our career paths throughout college, but as Brendon described Case Western Reserve and the CAA program, I almost immediately knew what field I wanted to go into. As well as where I wanted to do it. I have spent an extensive amount of time at Memorial Hermann hospital, as well as the Houston medical center as whole. I greatly admire the kind and incredibly hardworking healthcare workers who work there, and I aspire to work alongside them one day. With some hard work and the help of Case Western Reserve, hopefully in the anesthesia department. In my free time I enjoy watching sports, lifting weights, watching movies, and spending time with my friends from Kingwood. I am overwhelmingly excited to begin my studies at Case Western Reserve and to work with my classmates of the 2023 cohort. 

Brandon Martinez l Houston

I was born in El Paso, TX. As a first-generation student, I completed my Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX. Starting college, I had the intention of going to medical school, but my interests quickly diverted after taking courses such as Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Not knowing what I wanted to pursue, I took a chance and shadowed an Anesthesiologist. Experiencing firsthand what anesthesiology means and employs, I realized that this was my passion. Integrating Organic, Medicinal, and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Anesthesia uses all the science courses I love to help individuals undergo medical procedures. It was at this time that my Anesthesiologist recommended I pursue the MSA Program at Case Western Reserve University in Houston, TX. Starting this new chapter of my life and working as a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant, I am eager to continue kindling my knowledge in Pharmacodynamics and Pharmacokinetics while offering patient care.

Siraj Meah l Washington, D.C.  

I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. I graduated from The University of Georgia, earning a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. After graduation, I knew I wanted to work in an industry where I would be helping others. I began a career in the travel industry but had trouble finding the fulfillment I was seeking. I was interested in a role with a higher purpose and one where I could make a bigger impact helping others on a personal level. This began my journey to explore other opportunities. My father and two sisters, all CAAs, introduced me to the profession and invited me to shadow them for a week. That week of shadowing and seeing the work firsthand turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made. I watched in admiration as they contributed to a fast-paced surgical team while providing comfort to patients in need. Shortly after this experience, I enrolled back in school to complete the prerequisites for the MSA Program. Being surrounded by CAAs as both family and friends and hearing their opinions on schools, the CWRU MSA Program has been my goal, knowing it would provide the opportunity to learn from the best in the country. It is truly an honor to be a student at CWRU.

Jialei Meh l Houston

Born and raised in China, I came to the United States when I was 19 years old. Living my life half a world away from my parents wasn’t always easy, but thanks to this experience, I learned to be resilient and adapt quickly to the environment surrounding me. I went to the University of Massachusetts Boston and obtained a bachelor's degree in nursing in 2015. After working as a registered nurse for several years, I was looking to advance my career in the healthcare field. I researched and shadowed several Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants (CAA) in the OR and found that becoming a CAA would allow me to work with patients more quickly. The CAAs I had shadowed are CWRU MSA graduates and they all spoke very highly about the program. I am excited to be accepted by the program and join the CWRU MSA family. I look forward to starting the program and meeting the faculty and staff in person. 

Alexander Mervenne l Washington, D.C.

Grand Rapids, Michigan is a place that I have called home my entire life. Grand Valley State University is a stone’s throw away from my hometown and is where I attended and graduated with a degree in Biomedical Sciences and minors in Biology and General Business. Throughout college, I worked as a Residential Aide and was involved in clinical and laboratory research in addition to volunteering as an art teacher at local hospitals and a gym teacher within the Special Olympics. After my senior year and completion of the MCAT, I had little energy or desire to go to medical school. I decided to work for my family’s business in the automotive industry learning sales, marketing, and manufacturing. I quickly discovered that my passion wasn’t within the automotive industry. After a year I left my family's business and worked as an R&D Chemist and Microbiologist for a private chemical filling company. One and a half years later I landed a job in Stryker’s Orthopaedic Instruments Division and traveled around the United States providing sales support, giving presentations, and teaching medical staff how to use new instruments in the operating room. My time in the operating room allowed me to observe the healthcare team and develop a deep interest in anesthesiology. After conversing with Anesthesiologists, CRNAs, and CAAs, I knew that I wanted to be a CAA, and Case Western Reserve had the best program to turn this dream into a reality.

Kaley Mims l Houston

I was born and raised in Gardendale, Alabama and moved to the Houston area just prior to attending Texas A&M University where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Allied Health and a minor in Neuroscience in 2020. During my time at Texas A&M, I held jobs such as a medical scribe, a student research assistant, and a phlebotomist. These positions expanded my knowledge of the healthcare sciences and allowed me to affirm that the being in the medical field was what I wanted to do. Originally thinking about going the medical school route, I had many hesitations, as I did not think that it fit my personal and professional goals. I was introduced to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession at a healthcare career fair during my undergraduate studies and immediately found that the CAA profession was everything I had been looking for as this profession allows me to be a part of a team of healthcare professionals along with having an ideal work-life balance. The CWRU MSA program appealed to me over the other programs due to the Texas Medical Center in Houston as well as the early exposure to the operating room where I will be able to gain hands-on experience. I am thrilled to begin this journey of becoming a CAA!

Mary O’Donnell l Washington, D.C.

I grew up in Austin, Texas, and graduated with a BS in Nutrition from Texas A&M University in May 2019. Following graduation, I scribed at an orthopedic clinic before obtaining a Master’s in Medical Sciences at the University of North Texas Health Science Center. Growing up, I had always thought I wanted to become a physician but through time I realized that was not my true passion. I first heard about a career as a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant while at a career fair at Texas A&M. I was approached by a Case Western Reserve representative who told me about the profession and was very intrigued. As I continued my journey in medicine, I realized what a great fit this profession would be for me because I would be an integral part of the OR team and be able to help patients during some of their worst moments. I am incredibly excited to be a part of CWRU’s MSA program!

Victoria Oeftering l Cleveland

Having grown up just 30 minutes west of Cleveland, I completed my bachelor's degree in psychology at Cleveland State University. Working as an EMT through the most trying months of the pandemic, I realized my passion for helping others in a hands-on way. While I found many potential careers in medicine exciting, each path I looked into had one commonality: a means of alleviating the suffering of others. Finally, I stumbled upon the little-known profession of a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant. Seemingly a cheat code for life, this profession comes with a reasonable work-life balance, a high salary, and is as meaningful as a job can be. More than anything, being a CAA will allow me to alleviate the pain of others in the most direct way possible. As I searched for my role in the world, I craved having a niche to which I could tie my identity. I believe that this career is everything I was looking for and that it will further me on my journey to become the best version of myself. I am excited to wake up every day and know that my work has meaning.

Timothy Olukanni l Washington, D.C.

I was born in the country of Nigeria and immigrated with my family to the United States when I was three years old. In the United States, I grew up in Virginia beach and then went on to pursue my undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia. At UVa I completed the Kinesiology Major at the School of Education and Human Development in conjunction with pre-medical courses. Following graduation, my interests in the healthcare field led me to a job as a Healthcare Educator in the pharmaceutical space helping blind patients with a rare circadian rhythm disorder. Initially interested in a broad variety of healthcare careers, I eventually found the CAA profession and knew that it was the right fit for my professional and personal goals. In my free time, I enjoy playing sports, working out, playing music, and hanging out with friends. Overall, I am excited for this stage of my career and look forward to learning from all of the great minds in anesthesia. 

Jessica Osaghae-Nosa l Houston

I was born in Nigeria but grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 2020. During my undergraduate career, I was involved in clinical research, volunteering, various extracurricular activities as well as working as a medical scribe in the Emergency Department and Department of Dermatology. Being on the pre-medical track, I had plans to attend medical school because of my love for hands-on clinical medicine. As I was going through the stressful application process, I received an email from CWRU about their MSA program and was shocked that such a career existed because it perfectly fit my personality in how hands-on I wanted to be with future patients as well as offering a great work-life balance. I am 100% certain that this is where I am supposed to be and I am very excited to study at CWRU’s Houston location, along with their various rotation sites. I am eager to join the team in the operating room and become the best anesthetist I possibly can.

Myles Parker l Cleveland

I am Myles Parker from Marietta, Georgia. I graduated in 2019 from the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio. I received a bachelor's degree in biology with a minor in environmental studies. I wanted to pursue a career in medicine following undergrad but did not know where best I would fit in. After obtaining an EMT-B license, I practiced as a campus first responder. In addition to those duties, I ran track, worked as a tutor, and teaching assistant. After graduation, I shadowed mid-level providers in the emergency department, gastroenterology, dermatology, and finally discovered anesthesiology in the operating room. I fell in love with this field after seeing how much the provider cared for their patient and how essential the anesthesia care team model was in providing the patient with a high level of care. I am most excited for the high potential of growth of the field and the fact that I can be on the front lines. I am very grateful for the opportunity that Case Western Reserve University has given me.

Aneesa Patel l Houston

I spent most of my life in Austin, Texas and consider myself a true Austinite. For a long time, I was a bit lost on the exact career path I wanted to follow. I eventually decided to become a dental hygienist and very quickly learned a couple things- I was definitely meant to be in healthcare and I wanted to have a greater influence on patient care. I’m not sure if it was sheer luck or a positive note to a negative situation, but I became super interested in anesthesia during the time I was at the hospital for my father’s open-heart surgery. The anesthesia provider caught my attention, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how that was the career I was meant to be in. I then learned about the CAA profession and the rest is history. I love that as a CAA, I’ll get to be around a team of incredibly intelligent people and learn new things on a daily basis. I also love that this career fits perfectly with my interest in pharmacology. Most of all, I love the fact that with this profession, I can help make patients like my dad feel comfortable during a very scary moment of their life. As far as why I chose Case Western Reserve? Well, it was an easy decision! They have nearly 100 clinical affiliates across the country, they now have an Austin cohort, and everybody I’ve interacted with at Case Western Reserve has been incredibly nice. I can’t wait to start my journey towards becoming a CAA.

Harsh Patel l Washington, D.C.

Graduating from the University of Georgia I was able to receive my degree in biology. My undergraduate career initially began at Georgia Southern University. Post my sophomore year I transferred to the University to Georgia. I always thought I was a good enough student prior to my transfer, however that opinion quickly changed once I got to UGA. The curriculum of the University was quite different from what I was accustomed to at Georgia Southern University. The challenges it provided allowed me to think outside the box and helped me evolve as a student and more so as a person. I believe those challenges have prepared me well for my future endeavors. Growing up and going through grade school science was always a subject that I was interested in, primarily because in science nothing is constant. Once I got to college, medicine, in particular, was very intriguing and I knew I wanted to head in that direction. Post undergrad, I began working as a medical assistant in a dermatology office. I quickly learned that I enjoyed assisting in surgical cases such as excisions of melanomas. Anesthesia specifically is very stimulatory for me as it combines my passion for medicine and surgeries. What excites me about being a student of CWRU is the early exposure into the OR, the challenges it is going to provide. I expect those challenges to mold me into one of the best Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants.

Shelby Pelleran l Houston

I was born in Phoenix, AZ, and chose another great southwest-state, Texas, to pursue my undergraduate degree at Abilene Christian University. I graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Business Administration. From a very early age I knew I wanted to have a career in the medical field centered around anesthesia. Once in college, many opportunities arose to shadow anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists during medical mission trips and through ACU’s Body & Soul program, which furthered my desire to pursue a career in anesthesia. In January 2020, I was hired as a phlebotomist for Hendrick Medical Center. Working in a hospital has prepared me tremendously for Case Western Reserve University MSA Program. I have been able to interact with laboratory techs, nurses, and doctors from all hospital departments and, most importantly, patients from all stages of life. It has been an amazing learning experience to see every aspect of hospital care and to be a part of a “team” that serves to better the health of individuals. I am excited for this new journey to begin and all the possibilities it will bring as I prepare to join the CAA community. 

Martin Pham l Houston

I am a proud Houston native, born and raised! I attended The University of Texas at Austin, pursuing a Bachelor of Science and Arts in Nutritional Sciences. My time at UT was worthwhile as I garnered crucial skills such as time management and proactive studying techniques throughout the four years I attended. These skills will be useful for the MSA program because didactics will require students to absorb an abundance of information within two years. It is very exciting to enter this profession as the thought of being in the operating room and being part of an anesthesia care team makes me feel like an important role player on a sports team. It is just as exciting getting into the CWRU MSA program due to the connections, resources, and reputation that the program provides students with. My interest in healthcare, anesthesia, and caring for people during their most vulnerable moments will make me a motivated certified anesthesiologist assistant, and I cannot wait to begin the next phase of my life!

Thu Pham l Houston

I came to the States when I was 16 from Vietnam, by myself. I graduated from University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2021 with a bachelor in biology. Ever since I was 10, I have always had a fascination for anesthesiology, which was mainly because I came out of a keloid surgery without feeling any pain and I vividly remember being so amazed by that. Pain is such a vital sensation of life, however, too much pain could be fatal. I have seen so many people suffering from pain from the time I worked at a clinic, volunteered at a hospice, or even just spending a day or two with my grandmother and witnessed her struggle with her arthritis. I chose the MSA program because it is a fast track to help patients alleviate pain and CWRU is known for training the best AAs in the country. I hope to become a great AA and to be able to help as many patients as I can and to learn more and more about anesthesiology as I go. 

Jonathan Qiao l Washington, D.C. 

Born in Tennessee but raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I’m proud to call myself a Yooper!  My wonderful hometown prided itself on a strong community and offered numerous places to sit back and enjoy tranquil moments of nature.  I carried these experiences with me to University of Michigan – Ann Arbor where I began learning about the health sciences and graduated with a degree in Biochemistry. I spent an additional year at UM to earn a Master’s degree in Physiology. My education allowed me to do graduate research work in neurological-based projects including examining melatonin profiles of rats and analyzing cerebral arteriovenous malformation patients treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery. During this time, I also had the chance to work in the hospital setting. I learned more about the Anesthesia field and the vital need of certified anesthesiologist assistant professionals. The demand for CAAs plus the varied and exciting nature of anesthesia work made the decision to become a CAA a no-brainer.  The Case Western Reserve University MSA program offers a truly remarkable opportunity to examine the scope of the field and train to be a top-class CAA.  When I’m not studying, you’ll find me either checking out novels from the library, working out at the gym, or sitting behind the piano learning a new classical piece.

Kelly Rhodes l Cleveland

After graduating from the University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2007, I joined the Army and served for over 10 years in Special Operations. After my service, I decided that I wanted to transition into healthcare. As a non-traditional student, I did not want to spend a prolonged amount of time in school before starting my second career. The relatively short academic path into a healthcare field combined with the specialization, teamwork, patient care, and work-life balance made CAA the clear choice for me. Although I did not work in healthcare in the military, I quickly noticed a lot of crossover between my former job and the CAA profession. Working as part of a team, communicating, and remaining calm in stressful situations are skills that I can apply as both a student and CAA. Early in my search for CAA programs, I spoke with an acquaintance who is a graduate of CWRU, and she offered effusive praise of the school and of her time there. After conducting further research and discovering the university’s excellent reputation and the MSA program’s student outcomes, CWRU quickly became my top choice. I hope to apply the many skills I gained during my military service as well as my enjoyment of science and learning to the CWRU MSA program and my future practice as a CAA.

Nicholas Rico l Washington, D.C.

I was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida where I graduated with honors from the University of Florida with a degree in Microbiology and Cell Science. From a young age I knew I wanted to work in healthcare and hope to have a positive impact on people’s lives. I went on to complete my masters in Infectious Diseases from the University of Kent in the UK. I was set on the pre-dental track until I learned about the CAA profession. I felt that all my academic and life experiences prepared me to succeed in both the MSA program and as a future certified anesthesiologist assistant. I am excited to start my journey to become a CAA and to be a part of this growing profession.

Abbey Roach l Washington, D.C.

I’m Abbey and the proud dog-mom of my sweet boy, Oscar. I have been working full-time as an EMT since I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2018. During this time I was exposed to countless medical professions and was able to elucidate what I didn’t want to pursue; however, this still left a plethora of exciting options. While looking into MD/DO and PA programs, I stumbled upon the CAA profession and immediately knew that this is what I wanted to do. I am thrilled by the intersection of science and patient advocacy that this profession offers. I am humbled to be accepted into the CWRU MSA program where I will grow my competencies under some of the best. After honing my skills in the field as a CAA, my ultimate professional goal is to serve as a medical missionary in Uganda alongside my good friend. I cannot wait to take my first steps as a CWRU MSA student in Washington, D.C., and become an integral part of the team.

Sydney Saupera l Houston

I am a born and raised Houstonian with an unbeatable love for the city! I graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a minor in Business Administration, although my journey towards a medical profession started quite differently from normal. I applied for college as an Economics major, confident that I would pursue a law degree after graduation. That goal soon changed after a few months as a pharmacy technician and a Principles of Drug Action class. I quickly switched to a Biology major & declared myself pre-pharmacy. However, after deliberating my future and desires in a career, I found myself in limbo regarding my job path. I mulled over several other medical professions before hearing about CAAs. I was immediately curious and was fortunate enough to have a cousin who set up an opportunity to shadow a certified anesthesiologist assistant at the Texas Heart Institute. I enjoyed the fast-paced environment, hands-on procedures, and patient interaction in the career; it checked off all my boxes and more! Although it took me a longer time and a few extra turns to get to where I am, I couldn’t be more excited about where I am going.

Rosa Scholl l Washington, D.C.

One of my first experiences as an EMS provider was pain management using ketamine instead of common opioids. Pharmacology was the focus of my Organic Chemistry research during my undergraduate experience. As a chemistry major, I didn’t despise organic chemistry as much as most other science majors did; in fact, I actually enjoyed it, primarily because it helped me make sense of some of the drug interactions I explored in my time as an EMS provider. I know that pharmacology and physiology are only small parts of the diverse curriculum that the MSA program will cover, but I believe my early interest in these fields has helped me prepare for the program, without even consciously doing so. I am looking forward to the program because it will give me the opportunity to enhance my knowledge in the above-mentioned areas. I am excited to understand how the medications used in the OR impact the patients’ bodies and vital functions and to be able to intervene when things don’t go as planned. Basically, I can combine my passion for chemistry and biochemistry with the patient interaction that I’ve grown to love during my time as an EMT and Paramedic. Attending the CWRU MSA program in D.C. allows me to work in a community that I am already familiar with, and where I am at home. I am confident that my passion for both patient care and science will help me be a successful CAA in the near future. 

John Skaggs l Cleveland

I grew up in Avon Lake, Ohio which is about twenty minutes west of Cleveland. I attended The Ohio State University where I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in psychology. During undergrad, I was heavily involved in research and volunteer organizations. I was introduced to the CAA profession by a family friend, who I got the opportunity to shadow. During my shadowing experience, I fell in love with the thought of becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant. My favorite class during undergrad was physiology, and I quickly saw that this profession uses a lot of physiological knowledge. I was also impressed with this career choice because of the amount of patient interaction that CAA’s have on a daily basis. I am honored to be a part of the CWRU MSA Program Class of 2023, and I cannot wait to start this journey to become a certified anesthesiologist assistant! 

Emalie Stallknecht l Houston 

I grew up in Montgomery, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in business. Although I enjoyed learning many aspects of business, I ultimately decided I wanted a career in healthcare. It was through various shadowing experiences and scribing in the emergency department that I gained an interest in anesthesia. Once I shadowed a CAA, I never looked back! I was drawn to Case Western Reserve because they put students into the OR shortly after starting the program. Further, the opportunity to work in the Texas Medical Center is very exciting! I am ecstatic to begin my journey of becoming a CAA and making a difference in people’s lives! 

Allison Thai l Houston 

I sought a balanced education that would satisfy my love for science and literature, so when I attended Houston Baptist University, I pursued the pre-medical track, majored in English, and minored in biology. My undergraduate studies had nurtured a multidisciplinary approach and mindset to everything I do. What excites me the most about this profession is having the knowledge and tools to provide hands-on care for patients in the operating room. Anesthesia is one of the most powerful tools in medicine. It’s an honor to one day be trusted by patients to use that tool during their most vulnerable moments in surgery. As a native Houstonian, I am thrilled to be attending CWRU in Houston, where I would be given opportunities to study and practice at the famous Houston medical district. I have worked for two years as a scribe in the ERs of Children’s Health and Memorial Hermann Southwest, so I am currently interested in trauma and pediatrics. I can picture myself returning to those sites and specialties as a CAA. That being said, I keep an open mind for specialties I haven’t been exposed to yet. I look forward to learning as much as I can at CWRU, so I will be equipped to provide any kind of anesthesia care.

Nikki Tra l Houston

My name is Nikki Tra. I graduated from Texas A&M University in 2019 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Biology and worked as a Newborn Hearing Screener for the postpartum unit at St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. From this experience, I was able to gain a perspective on the effects of anesthesia as I was constantly working with recovering c-section mothers that have gone under both regional and general anesthesia treatments and observed how each anesthesiologist assessed not only their medical demands but their emotional needs as well. There is a massive amount of critical thinking and thought processing that goes into planning each anesthesia care plan and I became even more drawn to the career after conversing with my brother, who is currently working as a Resident Anesthesiologist in Houston, about the skill sets needed to become a certified anesthesiologist assistant. He emphasized the importance of teamwork between him and each member of his care team as they all rely on each other in a web-like configuration, which is something I have always aimed for in a future career. Every anesthetic is an opportunity to care for a patient at the highest level and I believe this program will help me accomplish that. I am so honored and delighted to be joining CWRU MSA Class of 2023 as we embark on our journey to become future CAAs!

Kayla Tran l Houston

I was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania but have spent most of my life in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. I graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and an emphasis in healthcare. During undergrad, I immersed myself in a series of rewarding experiences; I conducted psychophysiological research at UGA’s Health and Development Lab, worked in a pain management clinic, and volunteered in my hospital’s PACU department. These experiences made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career that integrates patient advocacy with medical treatment. After intensive online research and discussion with healthcare professionals, I found the Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant career to perfectly align with my vocation and shadowing further solidified my passion for this field of medicine. The opportunity to positively impact the emotional and physical wellbeing of individuals at their most vulnerable moments is precious to me. It is among my greatest desires to minimize global health disparities by practicing in underserved communities around the world. I am confident this rigorous program will prepare me to become the best anesthetist I can be, and I am incredibly honored and elated to explore the world of anesthesia through the CWRU MSA program!

Magdalena Valenti l Washington, D.C.

I spent my childhood in Maryland but later moved to Nashville, Tennessee where my family has been for several years now. This spring, I am graduating from the University of Georgia with my degree in biology. During my undergrad years, I was involved in lots of extracurricular activities that helped me learn to manage my time well and be very organized, preparing me well for this program. These activities also showed me that I want the time to be able to keep up with hobbies that inspire me throughout my life, which in part also led me to the career of a certified anesthesiologist assistant. Throughout life, I always knew I wanted to be involved in the medical field, but was struggling to find a profession that seemed like the right fit until I heard about certified anesthesiologist assistants in an advising meeting. After hearing about the profession, I did lots of research and really fell in love with the unique environment that comes with the anesthesia care team and the unmatched work-life balance for the medical field. Ultimately, the job fits perfectly with my goals to improve the lives of others and I am so excited to do fulfilling work that I am passionate about. I love Case Western Reserve's early exposure to the clinical setting as I tend to learn best with a more hands-on approach and I cannot wait to start this journey at CWRU!

Ethan Vaughn l Houston

My name is Ethan Vaughn, and I am from St Louis, Missouri. I recently graduated from the University of Missouri which gave me plenty of opportunities that lead to the path I am on now. My sophomore year I traveled to Houston and had the pleasure of volunteering alongside some students from the Case Western Reserve MSA program. That time spent with them was key in applying here. I have never lived outside Missouri so; I am ready for all the things this program and the city have to offer. One of the most exciting things about the program for me is how quickly we will be getting into the hospital. I have worked at a local hospital for the past few years and can't wait to continue patient interaction. I’ve found that people really need a comforting presence to help them through something as stressful as surgery, so I hope to be that for the patients I interact with. Outside of the hospital, I am a huge sports fan, specifically football and hockey, and I love the outdoors. Exploring Houston and all the good food people talk about is something I can't wait for! 

Elizabeth Walcutt l Cleveland

My name is Elizabeth Walcutt and I was born and raised in the Cleveland suburb of Brecksville, Ohio. I graduated from The Ohio State University in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in General Business. I had always been drawn to science and health subjects in school, but with no one in my family being in the medical field I had little knowledge of what a career in medicine looked like. In undergrad, I started shadowing doctors and involved myself in many organizations working with underserved communities, differently-abled individuals, and children of all ages where I found my passion for working with and serving others. Throughout my time in hospitals and surgery centers, I found that anesthesia was the profession that perfectly combined my wants and needs and requires the same teamwork and dedication that I experienced in my undergrad volunteering. To me, the anesthesia team had the biggest impact on a patient’s experience and I loved the idea of being able to make a patient’s day just a little bit better. I was fortunate enough to be able to talk with alumni and current students of the CWRU MSA program who emphasized these same values in their work and their enthusiasm for the program resonated with me. CWRU continues to develop dedicated and enthusiastic CAA professionals and I cannot be more excited to return home and be a part of this program. 

Arshia Waqar l Washington, D.C.

I was raised in Houston, Texas and graduated from Texas A&M University with a degree in Nutritional Sciences. Through my leadership experiences and involvement in several organizations that were dedicated to community service and providing emotional support to hospitalized children and their families, I realized I wanted to pursue a career field that would allow me to provide comfort and care for people in their most vulnerable stages and advocate for them on their behalf. After graduation, I began working as a scribe in the Emergency Department of a Level 1 Trauma Center, where I first observed the care and coordination within several members of a healthcare team. Through researching different careers that would allow me to be involved in a healthcare team model and advocate for patient safety, I learned of this career path which was a perfect alignment of my interests and goals in a healthcare career! Shortly after, I began working as an Anesthesia Technician in the Texas Medical Center to gain OR experience where I was able to meet many practicing CAAs who were also graduates from the CWRU program. I am so excited to train through a program as well reputed, engaging and hands-on as CWRU. I look forward to applying all of my interests and experiences into becoming a member of such a unique and exciting profession!

William Wei l Washington, D.C.

I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia and attended Philadelphia University, which later became Thomas Jefferson University. During university, I shadowed and explored lesser-known occupations such as oral maxillofacial surgeon and perfusionist. On the side, I researched and created a programming class at my school. After graduating in 2019 with a bachelor's in Pre-Med and minors in business and psychology, I started teaching Anatomy and Physiology.  While teaching, I recalled shadowing a perfusionist, where I was able to watch a team of health care professions work together to perform a surgery, one of them being CAA. This encounter is what sparked my interest to pursue such a career after graduation. I am excited and looking forward to joining CWRU D.C., where I can stay close to family and continue my education. Class of 2023, let’s go!

Madi Werner l Houston

I grew up in Frisco, Texas. I moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama after high school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in general business at the University of Alabama. Roll Tide! At Alabama, I met people from all over the country that became my life-long friends and of course, got to witness a lot of great football! Throughout my studies, I worked as an Ophthalmic Technician, where I fully decided I wanted to pursue a career in health care. Being immersed in a health care setting showed me my passion for hands-on patient care and continuous education. My undergraduate experience prepared me for the rigorous and exciting opportunity to be a part of the MSA Program in Houston. After much research, I came across the CAA profession and was immediately interested, ultimately leading me to pursue this path. The new challenges, opportunities, and hands-on education was what really drew me to this program. I am very honored and excited to be a part of the Houston cohort and begin learning and gaining skills in the field of anesthesia.

Inga Winkelman l Washington, D.C.

My name is Inga Winkelman, I’m from Boulder, CO, and have a degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition from Colorado State University with a minor in Spanish. While obtaining my degree I found a niche in physiology and understanding how the human body works. Post-graduation I worked at a research facility taking care of laboratory animals, after which I decided to go into healthcare and began to work as a caregiver for people with dementia. Helping people provides me with fulfillment - I keep calm in emergencies, and stay level-headed when face to face with injury and death. I became aware of the position of Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant during my brief look into nursing, and it is the ideal job for me; I get to use physiology and science, I have used anesthesia in the past, and it is a serious task that is absolutely instrumental in helping people. Case Western Reserve University is home to one of the oldest programs in the profession and is a monolith in the CAA community. I look forward to learning the application of anesthesia in this environment and with the rest of my class.

Lindsey Winstrand l Houston

I came from Michigan to attend the University of Houston on scholarship. I found Houston to be a delightful city and it became my permanent home. At U of H, I obtained a BS in Mathematical Biology and a BA in Music. The former is an interdisciplinary degree that includes studies in biostatistics, mathematical modeling, and analytics. The latter is a liberal arts degree that furthered my abilities to think creatively and critically. Although a music degree may not seem immediately relevant to a career in the medical field, there are priceless skills I directly developed from it. Trained musicians are excellent in time management, diligent practice, and ensemble teamwork. These are skills applicable to many walks of life, including being part of a surgery team. I spent time volunteering as a medical interpreter with Faith in Practice 3 years in a row in Guatemala where the organization serves thousands of patients each year. This further perked my interest in a career in medicine and serving the community. I have also volunteered as a bedside musician with the Texas Children’s Hospital in the Woodlands. I care about contributing to the community and will eventually do so from inside the operating room. I am excited to someday work in a hospital as part of a surgery team to help make important changes in patients’ lives. I am passionate about physiology and am confident my knowledge will serve me as I become a CAA under CWRU’s guide.

Noah Wlodarski l Washington, D.C.

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Neurobiology and a certificate in Global Health. After graduation, I spent some time working at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee as an Anesthesia Tech where I gained valuable insight into what it meant to be an anesthesia provider. Working alongside CAAs and anesthesiologists alike, I learned of how prominent their role was in caring for the patient from pre-op to the ICU. They heavily influenced my urge to pursue anesthesia and informed me that the most direct route to do so was the MSA program. There is a promising future for physician extender positions, and I truly am excited to be part of a group that can say they help people live healthier lives.

Phelan Wolf l Cleveland

I am from Ann Arbor, Michigan. I attended a small private high school and then graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical and Molecular Nutrition. Aside from health and nutrition, some of my passions include gardening, horsemanship, hiking, and volunteering. While in undergrad, I served as the Operations Manager of the MSU Student Food Bank to continue my mission of giving back to the community. Learning about the certified anesthesiologist assistant career intrigued me but it was not until I shadowed a CAA that I knew this career would perfectly satisfy my desire to help others. The fusion of patient care and OR experience makes CAAs the patients’ biggest advocate during their perioperative period. I am thrilled to be on my way to becoming a certified anesthesiologist assistant and grateful to be a part of the Master of Science in Anesthesia program at Case Western Reserve University!

Kerri Wong l Washington, D.C.

I was born and (mostly) raised in Charleston, South Carolina! I earned my bachelor's degree in Bioengineering with a concentration in biomaterials from Clemson University in 2021. During my time in undergrad, I was heavily involved in undergraduate research, my sorority, Delta Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc., and in honors leadership organizations such as Omicron Delta Kappa. Since high school, I was sure that I wanted to work in the healthcare field, but I wasn't sure in what capacity. I was on a pre-medical track for my undergraduate studies, which was a heavy workload in addition to my engineering classes, but I got to experience all sectors of the healthcare environment: the engineering development of devices, the laboratory, and experimental facets of research, and the frontline patient care. After speaking and shadowing several professionals in the medical field, I found that I was drawn to team-focused patient care, and I knew I would enjoy being a certified anesthesiologist assistant. I was drawn towards the CWRU MSA Program due to its long history of training and its early exposure to the clinical setting. I am so excited to begin this journey!

Tiffany Yang l Houston

I am from Dallas, Texas and graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Spanish. Throughout my undergraduate studies, I always knew I wanted to be in healthcare and it was just a matter of finding out where in the field I belonged. I volunteered in the ER and shadowed doctors and nurses of different professions, but after being introduced to the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession by a close friend, I felt like it was a perfect fit. Not only would I be able to directly care for patients, I would also be alongside them throughout the entire process. Whether it be preparing the patient for the procedure, caring for them during surgery, or assisting in their postoperative recovery, being a CAA would allow me to be involved in a fast-paced and growing profession. I am so excited to begin my studies at CWRU!

Linda Yeh l Houston

I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but shortly after high school, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where I graduated from Kennesaw State University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. While I knew that I wanted a career within the medical field, I was always unsure of which specific path to pursue, as nothing felt like the perfect fit. It wasn’t until after graduating that I was suggested by a friend to look into the certified anesthesiologist assistant profession. I was immediately intrigued, and after some research and shadowing, I knew that the career would be the right choice for me. Seeing the OR environment and the teamwork that was put in by all the medical professionals toward the same goal fascinated and excited me, which is why I am beyond thrilled to be starting my studies at CWRU. With their supportive faculty and staff and early exposure to the OR, I know that the CWRU MSA program will provide me with a stellar education that will prepare me to become a skilled certified anesthesiologist assistant ready to care for both the patients and their families through a vulnerable time.