Student of the Month

Every month, one student is nominated by their peers from each class for altruistic spirit and commitment to service. We extend our warmest congratulations to: 

January 2024

Caeley Sheehan, OMS-IV

Hometown: Buffalo, NY (Go Bills!)

Life Before Touro: I graduated from SUNY Geneseo in 2019. For my gap year, I worked at an ice cream stand and as a medical scribe at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Childhood Dreams: Singer on American Idol or an author

Hobbies: Cooking, Baking, Painting, watching TV shows, and playing the Sims

Fun Fact: I’ve shaved my head twice to donate my hair to make wigs for cancer patients

Nomination Quote: "They have been a great example of a classmate who is willing to go out of their way to help their peers and support those around them when needed."

William Gallopp, OMS-III

Hometown: Boston, MA


Life Before Touro: I obtained my bachelor’s in chemistry at Skidmore College in 2013. Following graduation, I spent a year at Brigham and Women's Asthma Research Center. After that, I served in the US Army where I was trained as an LPN. Following my return to civilian life, I worked in GI and pediatrics before obtaining my master’s at TouroCOM.


Favorite Quote: “The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” – Vince Lombardi


Childhood Dreams: To become a physician


Hobbies: Traveling, cooking playing basketball, hiking, photography


Fun Fact: I spent a month backpacking in the PNW.

Nomination Quote: "This man is the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave. He gives his all to the team, and puts others before him. Everyday he makes sure others in our class are doing well and if he can do anything to make our lives easier. He looks out for others in our cohort, and class making sure we are treated well. He stands up for us when we are ignored or ill-treated. Rotations are tough on their own, and having a colleague like Will to lighten the burden and make sure things are running smoothly is truly a gift. He goes above and beyond everyday on rotations. He isn't afraid of taking the time to help teach you, or support you when you are knocked-down by the the day's toil. Can't wait to see what he does next."

Rafiq Zaib, OMS-II

Hometown: Bear Mountain

Life Before Touro: I was a Chemistry major at SUNY New Paltz.

Favorite Quote: "I'm not superstitious, but I am a little stitious." -Micheal Scott, The Office

Childhood Dreams: Orthodontistry 

Hobbies: Making Origami cranes

Fun Fact:  I can do some card tricks. 

Nomination Quote: "I would like to nominate Rafiq Zaib for the Student of the Month recognition. Rafiq has consistently demonstrated exceptional dedication and leadership within Touro. His involvement in multiple clubs and leadership positions showcases his commitment to fostering a supportive and engaging environment for his peers. As a coordinator at the MedAchieve program, he has played a crucial role in organizing events and initiatives that enhance the overall learning experience for fellow students. Also as an anatomy TA, he has been willing to go above and beyond in assisting first-year students with their anatomy coursework. Rafiq is genuinely passionate to support others and he consistently values collaboration, mentorship, and service, making him an deserving candidate for the Student of the Month recognition."

"Rafiq always thinks about others and helps everyone in any way he can. Rafiq is very humble and always makes sure to understand his peers and supports them. He does a lot for Touro and the Middletown community including all the many clubs and organizations he is involved with. I highly recommend Rafiq always!"

Charles Huggard, OMS-I

Hometown:  Pawling, New York


Life Before Touro: I worked as a Mental Health Worker at Four Winds Hospital before deciding to attend The University at Buffalo for a degree in biology with the hopes of later pursuing a degree in medicine. During that period, I also worked as a Direct Support Professional for children with autism and volunteered for a Ukrainian tutoring organization.


Favorite Quote: "He was not a brilliant strategist or tactician, not a gifted orator, not an intellectual. At several crucial moments he had shown marked indecisiveness. He had made serious mistakes in judgment. But experience had been his great teacher from boyhood, and in this his greatest test, he learned steadily from experience. Above all, Washington never forgot what was at stake and he never gave up." - From '1776' by David McCullough, discussing George Washington.


Childhood Dreams: I wanted to own a Chuck E. Cheese’s franchise.


Hobbies: I love to play and write music.


Fun Fact: I use ChatGPT to teach me almost everything.

Nomination Quote: "Charlie is an exceptional classmate and friend! He is always there to lift up our spirits with jokes and encouragement. He embodies perseverance and worked incredibly hard in all classes last semester even during the challenging exam months. He is willing to rise to challenges and I think has well earned the title of Student of the Month!"

November 2023

Ruxandra Andriescu, OMS-III

Hometown: Born in Romania, grew up in Canada, now call DC/VA home

Life Before Touro: I went to James Madison on a tennis scholarship, majored in Biology, minored in Computer Information Systems. Got my master’s from Georgetown in Healthcare Administration. Worked at PwC (now Guidehouse) for 5 years as a consultant for the Military Health System and National Security accounts, managing various healthcare policy projects on PTSD, TBI, and suicide prevention among other super interesting mission support roles! I was so inspired by the people I worked with that I decided to join the Army as an HPSP recipient, which means I will be an active duty physician once I finish residency. 

Favorite Quote: “We can always become stronger and more agile, mentally and physically. We can always become more capable and more reliable. We should never feel that our work is done. There is always more to do.” – David Goggins

 “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” – Farrah Gray

Childhood Dreams: As a child, I dreamt of becoming a veterinarian. Growing up I fed the stray cats and dogs in Romania and continued to volunteer with animal organizations throughout my life. I am a strong advocate for adoption and encourage everyone to get their pet from a rescue or shelter. One of my lifelong goals is to open an animal sanctuary for older and disabled animals.

Hobbies: Travel, working out, cooking, trying new restaurants, comedy, podcasts, reading, documentaries, volunteering 

Fun Fact: I’ve traveled to over 15 countries, speak Romanian and French and hope to learn Spanish along the way!

Nomination Quote: "Ruxandra has been such a dedicated advocate for her patients and their families on rotations, exemplifying empathy and professionalism beyond the scope of what is required as a medical student. She worked hard and went above and beyond daily responsibilities to ensure the needs of patients were met, often checking in with them throughout the day to see how they were doing. Ruxandra is also actively involved in many organizations and activities that support the military as well as the local community. For example, she is on the Board of Metro Military Medicine Group, is a member of the Society of Uniformed Services Psychiatrists, attends conferences, is involved in research, and volunteers with the Middletown Warming Station. She is so deserving of this recognition."

Megan Worthington, OMS-II

Hometown: Maryville, MO

Life Before Touro: Before attending Touro, I played D2 college basketball in Missouri. I majored in Biochemistry and minored in Spanish in college. After college, I moved to New York for the MS program, and I've been with Touro ever since.

Favorite Quote: "When life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door." The Grateful Dead

Childhood Dreams: When I was younger, I wanted to be a mechanic like my dad. Fortunately, that dream never came true.

Hobbies: Playing pickup basketball, Biking, Hiking, Traveling, Trying new foods, playing with my cats Marley and Lennon 

Fun Fact: N/A

Nomination Quote: "I am thrilled to nominate Megan Worthington for Student of the Month. Her organizational skills shine through in her detailed exam schedules and resources that she shares with the class before each Mod exam. Also she organized a rotations panel to assist the second years in navigating where they might like to do their rotations. Megan really steps up with philanthropic and  community-based projects like the Angel Tree collaboration with the Salvation Army, setting up the Flu Clinic and going out of her way to share scholarship and internship opportunities with the class of 2027. Megan embodies the qualities that Touro University seeks for its student population – her all-around contributions make her a great choice for student of the month."

Sohail Khan, OMS-I

Hometown: Jersey City + Philly 

Life Before Touro: Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Business + Mixed Martial Arts

Favorite Quote: "Don't count the days, make the days count." — Muhammad Ali

Childhood Dreams: Become a Marine, practice cardiothoracic surgery and/or something within critical care medicine, and ultimately launch a global pharma supply chain management startup 🚀 no cap

Hobbies: Painting with oil/acrylics, drawing with charcoal/graphite, cooking different cultural foods 360° with the wrist, intense workouts/hikes, & the bane of my existence: data organization + structural architecture in data informatics 

Fun Fact: I know roughly 12-13 languages + another 4 coding languages & this New Year I’m doing the 75 HARD challenge 💯 

Nomination Quote: "I would like to nominate Sohail for the Student of the Month award, acknowledging his exceptional contributions to our medical school community.

Sohail consistently elevates the spirits of his peers by offering encouraging pep talks during challenging moments, along with his sense of humor. His positive attitude not only creates a dynamic learning environment, but also fosters a sense of camaraderie among his fellow medical students. 

Beyond his own organizational skills, Sohail readily extends support to his peers, showcasing a genuine commitment to their well-being. Whether it's providing assistance, sharing effective study strategies, or editing the OSCE peer review sheet with Dr. Giovanis, Sohail embodies the collaborative spirit that defines our medical school community.

In his role as IT, Sohail demonstrates quick and effective problem-solving skills, ensuring the seamless integration of technology in our medical education. His proactive approach to technical challenges reflects his commitment to maintaining a smooth and efficient learning experience for all students.

Additionally, Sohail's passion for the betterment of our school extends beyond the academic realm. Behind the scenes, he actively engages in initiatives aimed at enhancing the overall student experience. Sohail is consistently involved in projects and activities that contribute to the growth and improvement of our school community. Whether participating in student-led initiatives, collaborating with faculty, or volunteering for events, Sohail's commitment to fostering a positive and progressive environment demonstrates his dedication to the continual enhancement of our medical school. His behind-the-scenes efforts undoubtedly make a lasting impact on the fabric of our institution. 

In summary, Sohail's positive impact on our medical school community, coupled with his passion, motivation, and academic excellence, makes him an outstanding candidate for the Student of the Month award."

Niki Patel, MS

Hometown: Farmington, CT 

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Stockton University in 2020 where I received a degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. During my time at Stockton, I did research in medicinal organic chemistry involving the isolation and identification of components in an ayruvedic cutis cream. After graduation, I worked as a pharmacy technician.

Favorite Quote: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”- Albert Einstein

Childhood Dreams: When I was younger, I had a dream of becoming a professional gymnast. However, one severe ankle injury when I was 12 forced me to reconsider. 

Hobbies: I love hiking and recently picked up a new hobby of rock climbing. 

Fun Fact: I was born on the first day of spring.

Nomination Quote: "Niki always has the brightest smile, no matter the stress. She is friendly, encouraging, and extremely dedicated. She checks in on everyone and is an excellent peer and friend. She is welcoming and kind. She is resilient and persistent. She never lets challenges get in her way. She attacks the next task will full force and learns from her mistakes. Her positive outlook is inspiring. She is eager to learn, grow, and adapt. I can't wait to see what the future holds for her."

October 2023

Kacper Bury, OMS-III

Hometown: Valley Stream, NY 

Life Before Touro: I got a B.S. in Biology with minors in Gerontology and Chemistry at SUNY Oneonta in 2019. During my time there, I had the opportunity to scribe in the local E.R. while also being the President of the E.M.S. department. During my gap year, I scribed in an orthopedic office for a knee surgeon and ironically tore my ACL during my first month working there.

Favorite Quote: "It ain't about how hard you hit. it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done" - Rocky Balboa"

Childhood Dreams: I dreamed of working in the sanitation department as a garbage man. I was fascinated about how the trucks could pack everything into their storage units (I still am if we're being honest) and I found it super cool when the workers held on the back of the truck going from house to house.

Hobbies: Videogames, snowboarding, fantasy football, weight lifting, and watching the Jets be terrible at football. 

Fun Fact: Growing up, my first language was Polish. While my parents taught me this language, I would teach them the English I learned in elementary school. I then went on to be an assistant teacher in a Polish school and taught younger kids how to speak Polish fluently. 

Nomination Quote: "For always being positive and pushing through these tough rotations as a team. Being a good friend and colleague to everyone he works with. "

Eliana Shaskan, OMS-II

Hometown: Manhattan, NY 

Life Before Touro: Before coming to Touro I completed my undergrad degree at Binghamton University in Integrative Neuroscience. I had the incredible opportunity to work in a research lab for Parkinson's disease in Binghamton and another lab for Alzheimer's disease at NYU. After graduating & during the pandemic I worked as an EMT for a few ambulance agencies, in the ER, and at an urgent care. When things began to slow down I was able to take 2 months off from work as a HCP and instead found a more laid back position as a dog walker.

Favorite Quote:  "Having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness." -Katherine Henson

Childhood Dreams: To become a physician or a veterinarian

Hobbies: Cooking, weight lifting, swimming, fishing (pretty much anything outdoors)

Fun Fact: I have an IMDB page

Nomination Quote: "Ellie is the most deserving person of this award. She is the kindest I know and I am very fortunate to have her as a classmate and friend here at Touro. There is not a single person that I have met that has not said amazing things about Ellie and how her positive attitude has impacted those around her. There is no doubt in my mind that she will be one staple in our community as a future physician. Ellie has already impacted out community and those at Touro. She has put together such an amazing event, the Teddy Bear Clinic. The Teddy Bear clinic has touched so many classmates as well as our community and It was a such a joy to witness the impact this event had on others. There is not a day that goes by that Ellie is not thinking of those around her and how she can help. She is always the first person to jump at an opportunity to help others and figure out ways to positively impact others."

Gloria Okafor, OMS-I

Hometown: I was born in Los Angeles, CA then moved to Taft, CA when I was 8. 

Life Before Touro: I was a substitute teacher for 2 years after undergrad while volunteering as a Cope Health scholar.

Favorite Quote: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.” - Nelson Mandela.

Childhood Dreams: I once thought I could be a model because I was offered to participate in beauty pageants.

Hobbies: playing tennis, listening to Afrobeats, eating Nigerian food. 

Fun Fact: One of my cousins is a former NBA basketball player named Emeka Okafor.

Nomination Quote: "I want to nominate Gloria Okafor for Student of the Month because she has been so supportive to me during my transition to medical school. Her extensive knowledge of the academic and social aspects of TouroCOM has been instrumental in helping me navigate this new phase of life. When we first met, she willingly shared her experiences, provided insightful advice, and offered study tips that significantly contributed to my on-going adjustment to the demands of the program. Gloria has also been an exceptional friend throughout our time so far at school. She is always being there to listen and offers encouragement when I'm struggling or feeling down. Her friendship has been a source of comfort and motivation, making the experience more enjoyable and manageable. Overall, Gloria's kind-hearted and compassionate nature sets her apart. She has repeatedly demonstrated empathy and genuine care for the well-being of others. Whether it's lending a helping hand, offering a shoulder to cry on, or participating in community service, Gloria consistently shows a dedication to making a positive impact on those around her."

Tracey Simon, MS

Hometown: Union City, NJ 

Life Before Touro: I graduated from the College Of Staten Island with a degree in Biology. I was on the Women's basketball team and the Women's Track and Field team and on the committee for Student Services on SGA. I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity to do research with Rutgers University, where I contributed to the upcoming groundwork on Nanobased carrier systems for targeted and specific site therapeutic delivery. I was also recognized and awarded by the American Chemical Society. I went on to work for the Vascular Surgery Department and shadowed at the Wound care center at Englewood Hospital. I also participated in the Herbert Dardik Research Program. I then became the team lead at our newly opened sister location in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Favorite Quote: "Everything negative -- pressure, challenges -- is all an opportunity for me to rise." - Kobe Bryant 

Childhood Dreams: I wanted to be a supermodel with a big house in Italy. I used to model but then I became passionate about medicine and science.

Hobbies: Love going to the gym, reading, and going to museums.

Fun Fact: I have a baby picture signed by Wesley Snipes. 

Nomination Quote: "Tracey always demonstrates a positive mindset and has a happy demeanor about her that is so infectious. Tracey works diligently as a class rep to help accommodate the class as best as possible. She is always happy to answer any questions and is always making an effort to get to know her classmates on a personal basis."

September 2023

Jared Nasso, OMS-II

Hometown: Holbrook, NY 

Life Before Touro: I grew up in Suffolk County, Long Island, and went to Binghamton where I studied Spanish and Biology. I had an awesome undergraduate experience where I had the opportunity to pursue meaningful extracurricular activities! I served as an EMT-B while working in the southern tier and on Long Island. During undergrad, I researched prions in Molecular anthropology and I would love to talk about them! I was an RA, a COVID-19 tester, and a public health intern. I took a gap year prior to med school where I traveled and cared for patients in Urgent Care out on Long Island.

Favorite Quote: “Something weird might just be something familiar viewed from a different angle.” Marceline’s Mom - Adventure time

Childhood Dreams: Zookeeper (I love orangutans)

Hobbies: I like to explore and travel seeing places at different times of the day. I love to watch sunrises and sunsets. I love to hike, learn languages, play video games, and watch documentaries and shows. I love to cook.

Fun Fact: I have circumnavigated the world by accident! I flew from NY to the Philippines via the Pacific and a typhoon caused a whole bunch of cancellations, leading to us flying back through Europe and the Pacific. 

Nomination Quote: "Jared is an amazing peer. He brings a calming energy to the class. He is accepting and never judges anyone. He has an incredible ability to make others feel safe. Jared is one of the most supportive classmates. He is is kind, smart, resilient, hilarious, and dedicated. He continuously puts others before himself."

Jake Singh, OMS-I

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA 

Life Before Touro:  I majored in Biology at UC Davis, after which I earned a Master’s in Computer Science at Santa Clara University. This lead me to working briefly in the Ad Tech space, cybersecurity research, and doing tech work for a local community charity. I also volunteered in the San Francisco Bay Area community performing hospice visits and working directly with unhoused populations. 

Favorite Quote: “Who’s Joe?”

Childhood Dreams:  I wanted to work with computers, but I wanted to become a physician even more. Whatever subliminal messaging my parents gave me clearly worked.

Hobbies: Memes, Baking, Gym, Sleeping, Programming, Hiking 

Fun Fact: Both of my sisters are physicians! 

Nomination Quote: "Jake is doing a FANTASTIC job as class rep. He has been actively distributing resources for our first Physio exam and keeps the class up to date on updates from the professors. I think the class could agree that he is helping limit the stress of the first exam thanks to his hard work. ."

August 2023

Jessica Kroner, OMS-IV

Hometown: Nanuet, NY 

Life Before Touro: I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition at the age of 4 and always knew I wanted to go into medicine. I attended a small liberal arts college in Lancaster, PA (yes, with the Amish!) and I graduated from the MS program at Touro in 2020, all with the hopes of one day becoming a pediatrician!

Favorite Quote: "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light" -Albus Dumbledore

Childhood Dreams: Have a pet chinchilla 

Hobbies: Travel, reading (not textbooks), and spending time outdoors with family

Fun Fact: I am obsessed with doing puzzles. I am currently working on a 2000 piece Disney one! 

Nomination Quote: "Jessica is a wonderful classmate, friend, and person. Time after time, she proves to be incredibly selfless. When younger students have questions about class and rotations, she is always quick to help. This year, she went above and beyond to drive to her 3rd year clinical site to give a new 3rd year a tour of the facilities so that student would feel confident on their first day. Furthermore, she serves as a great resource for her classmates. When she prepares materials for residency, she immediately shares them with others. She never expects anything in return- she is truly just a generous person and friend. Lastly, she generously donates her time to serve on the National Pre-SOMA board. She was hand-picked to be in charge of all conference programming for this year, including OMED, the largest osteopathic medical conference. Outside of her role, she takes the time to mentor pre-med students whenever they need her help. She deserves to be student of the month because of her years of dedication to Touro as well as these notes listed above for the past few months. She is a great representative of Touro and will be an incredible doctor."

Grace Bang, OMS-II

Hometown: Syracuse, NY

Life Before Touro: I grew up in Upstate NY and went to SUNY Albany and Le Moyne College. After graduating, I took a gap year where I did a hodge-podge of things! From living in Chicago working for a non-profit in education to moving out to Sacramento to coach high school lacrosse and all the in between— the year before Touro was one that I look back on fondly.

Favorite Quote: “What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven't even happened yet.”  -Anne Frank

Childhood Dreams: When I was younger, I dreamed about being the kind of person that could make meaningful impacts on the lives of others. I never really had careers in mind, but was focused on the fact that I wanted to stay true to myself no matter what ‘hat’ I was wearing. 

Hobbies: I enjoy reading (ACOTAR series is my favorite!), lake days, hiking, playing guitar and hanging out with friends & family.

Fun Fact: I am training for my first marathon next spring. And I’m so incredibly excited, but also terrified!

Nomination Quote: "Grace has been a pillar in the Middletown community since starting school here. She took initiative last year to reach out to the Boy&Girls Club to form a volunteer opportunity, not for volunteer hours, but because she truly cares. She is passionate about volunteer work and her passion shows through her execution of setting up initiatives for her fellow students. Grace always knows how to get the job done. If someone has an idea, she makes it happen. She always encourages her fellow classmates to do things that spark their interest outside of school, like running a half marathon. She is always willing to help students find ways to become involved at Touro and in the community."

Shaikh Wahid, OMS-I

Hometown: Queens, NY/Montgomery, AL 

Life Before Touro: I graduated with a biology major, along with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I also did a Master’s in Biotechnology from there before doing the Master’s Program here at Touro. I worked as a student researcher for Parkinson’s Disease at UAB’s Neurology Department, and then later on as the research admin/tech for the laboratory here at Touro. 

Favorite Quote: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up” - Thomas Edison

Childhood Dreams: I’ve always wanted to sit courtside at an NBA game and be the on-court physician for the team, preferably the Brooklyn Nets. 

Hobbies: Cooking, exercising, basketball (#Mambaforever), video games

Fun Fact: I’ve seen every superhero movie (DC & Marvel) on its opening day

Nomination Quote: "Sharar is someone who will always go out of his way to help others and is one of the kindest people I know. He does his best to make everyone's day better and brighter. I always see him helping his classmates do their best, whether it be explaining difficult concepts, showing them different resources that could help them succeed, or giving a great pep talk. He is smart, resilient, and hard-working. Sharar is a great friend, and I know his future patients will be lucky to have him as their physician! "

Olivia Mcnulty, MS

Hometown: Boca Raton, Florida

Life Before Touro: I graduated this past May 2023 from Villanova University where I majored in Biology and minored in Mathematics. During my time at Villanova, I completed a senior thesis in the Chemical Engineering Department for CAR-T Cell Therapy. During my junior year, I was an Academic Associate in the Emergency Department at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital where I helped register patients into the hospital’s on-going studies. More recently, I was an Oncology DE&I Council Co-Op with Janssen Pharmaceuticals where I helped with various workstreams in the Oncology department after completing two summer internships with the Oncology team.

Favorite Quote: “It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live” - Mae Jemison

Childhood Dreams: When I was younger, I wanted to be a lawyer and even went to a summer camp for it. Then, I thought I was going to study English and History in college. This was all before I watched a Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery during my Human Anatomy and Physiology Class in high school. 

Hobbies: Running, Reading, watching the Philadelphia Eagles, spending time with my two yellow labs (Jordy and Harper) as well as spending time with my family and friends.

Fun Fact: I have only been out of the country once, but I plan to do some traveling during the summer!

Nomination Quote: "Olivia consistently sticks her head out to ensure her friends and peers have correct information for all classes. She does not hesitate to take the time to explain a difficult topic even if she has a lot of work to do herself. She helps coordinate study sessions with her peers and then will reach out to professors to bring her group into office hours to discuss difficult topics as a group. Additionally, Olivia keeps a positive attitude and encourages her peers despite the stressful environment. "

May 2023

Juliette Ferdschneider, OMS-III

Hometown: Brooklyn Ny 

Life Before Touro: I worked as a patient care tech for 2 years before medical school in Rochester NY.

Favorite Quote: What matters is how we lived and loved and how we spend our dash. -Linda Ellis

Childhood Dreams: I wanted to be a marine biologist. 

Hobbies: Cross stitch

Fun Fact: My hair has been every color of the rainbow 

Nomination Quote: "Juliette is such a kind and smart individual and future doctor. She is an active and engaging team player on rotations, helping out in anyway she can. She cultures an open environment so her patients feel heard and not judged or dismissed. In her free time, she is more than willing to spend time reviewing information together and sharing resources. Her dedication to the student body shines through her past experience with SGA, Wellness club and Student Ambassadors. She will lend an ear or a shoulder for support or bring a smile to your face when you need it. She would go above and beyond for any Touro student and therefore deserves to be the Student of the Month."

Misleydi Rios Rodriguez, OMS-II

Hometown: Tampa, FL (born and raised in Havana, Cuba) 

Life Before Touro: After graduating from the University of South Florida with my Bachelor’s degree, I discovered PhysAssist and became an Emergency Medical Scribe. I worked as an ER scribe for three and a half years and then decided to pursue a Masters’s Degree. I completed my master’s program in 2020 and applied to medical school. While awaiting my acceptance letter, I tutored and helped many students transition to an online curriculum during COVID. 

Favorite Quote: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Mahatma Gandhi

Childhood Dreams: I wanted to become a pilot. Technically, I could still fly a plane one day!

Hobbies: Playing with my dog Sule, walking my dog, sharing my whipped cream with my dog. I also like to take electronics apart and put them back together.

Fun Fact: I learned English by listening to Michael Jackson, my favorite singer!

Nomination Quote: "Mily is one of the most hard-working people I know. Not only does she attend every class and it's constantly engaged by asking questions, but she is also very active in many clubs, organizes many events, does research, and it's the head TA for immunology/ microbiology. Besides her work ethic, she is an amazing friend, wife and puppy mom."

Eboni Skerrit, OMS-I

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY ( lived in Lawrenceville, GA)

Life Before Touro: Eboni graduated with her master degree from Touro University in 2022

Nomination Quote: "She has gone above and beyond, class after class, helping provide resources needed to succeed in class. She vowed that we would all get the points from class clickers and she stuck to it. She has been consistent and quite frankly, I'm not sure how I would've gotten through this year without her."

"Eboni embodies every characteristic that the STOM at Tourocom should. From always being willing to help her classmates in any and every subject, to supporting many classmates in personal life matters in anyway shape or form. She excels at organizing and planning events that medical students otherwise would let fall by the wayside. This may not seem like a big deal but this helps keeps morale at an all time high during stressful periods. Without Eboni, I can assure you, the student body as a whole would be at a great disadvantage."

"Eboni is one of the major reasons I am not failing this semester. I owe my grades to her. She is the true MVP"

"Ebony is a true team player and wants to see everybody win! She is selfless, is ready to act when challenged, and truly knows her stuff! She is very hardworking yet still has time to show how caring she is. She is always just a call away and will always leave you laughing!" 

"She is a team player. She always is willing to help and will help someone else before herself"

"Eboni is one of the most supportive classmates that I have encountered at Touro. She is hilarious, kind-hearted, and extremely intelligent. She puts everyone before herself and ensures that those around her feel supported and included. I so lucky and thankful to have met such a wonderful classmate and friend"

April 2023

Veroneka Mikhail, OMS-IV

Hometown: Marlton, NJ 

Life Before Touro: I was born in Alexandria, Egypt and came to the United States at the age of 9. My family and I lived in Philadelphia for a couple of years, then moved across the bridge to NJ. I obtained my bachelor’s degree from Ursinus College where I majored in biology and minored in psychology. At the time, I was a resident advisor, a tutor, a hospital volunteer, and a waitress. After graduating, I become a medical scribe at St. Christopher’s hospital in Philadelphia and then I eventually came to NY and completed the master’s program at Touro in 2019. 

Favorite Quote: I have 2 favorite quotes:

1) “Nothing worth having comes easy” and 2) “May you be proud of the work you do, the person you are, and the difference you make”

Childhood Dreams: When I was younger I wanted to be either a doctor, a princess, or a super hero.

Hobbies: Photography, videography, baking, shopping, and binge watching tv shows.

Fun Fact: I have 2 twin pet cats: Cupid and Zeus 

Nomination Quote: "Veroneka is one of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. She has served as a mentor and friend to numerous students in the class years below her. She goes above and beyond to reach out to everyone and guide them through each and every medical school milestone. She also goes out of her way to help create connections for students to connect them to other mentors. She is so kind and compassionate to everyone she meets and is truly a bright ray of sunshine. I know she will go above and beyond for her future patients."

Yasmine Hemida, OMS-III

Hometown: Kew Gardens, NY

Life Before Touro: I worked as a rowing instructor, scribed in the ED and urgent care, and did some clinical research at Memorial Sloan Kettering within the Breast Cancer department in NYC! I loved working in the city and being part of a hustling diverse culture and mentality.

Favorite Quote: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."

Childhood Dreams: Be a lead singer on broadway.

Hobbies: Rowing, scuba diving, rock climbing, working out, traveling/going to beaches, visiting art museums, trying unique foods and restaurants. 

Most recently picked up on ceramics and DJing in medical school though!

Fun Fact: I once rowed for 13 hours straight, and I don’t recommend that to anyone.

Nomination Quote: "Yasmine exemplifies grace and understanding in her patient care. She inspires me to work harder and learn more because every day I see her push herself to learn more. She wants to learn from anyone she can and her patients love to have her around. She is a great example of how a third year student should be."

Linda Trujillo, OMS-II

Hometown: Dover, NJ (Born in Bogota, Colombia)

Life Before Touro: Before Touro I went to Montclair State University where I received my BS in Molecular Biology. While in college, I worked as a Medical Assistant at a Pediatrician's office, and as an executive assistant at an Immigration Law Firm. A few years later, I decided to go back to school and received my Masters in Biomedical Sciences at Rowan SOM. As I waited for acceptance to medical school, I worked at Penn Medicine's Neurosurgery department

Favorite Quote: "Everything beautiful that we create in life requires a leap of faith"

Childhood Dreams: When I was little I wanted to be a flight attendant, then growing up I wanted to be a forensic scientist, but after shadowing a few OMM physicians, I fell in love with the osteopathic philosophy of body, mind and spirit. In the near future, I hope to apply this philosophy to my Pediatric patients.

Hobbies: Traveling, roller skating, playing tennis, volleyball, hiking, working-out, watching sunsets and taking moon pictures.

Fun Fact: A few years ago, I did an internship at the morgue and got to see the removal of a cornea for a corneal transplant!! 

Nomination Quote: "Linda has been an example and motivation to many students, not only for the 2025 class but for MS and other DO classes. She continues to support everyone around her despite experiencing difficulties herself. She is that friendly face that brings you peace and calmness during times of stress. her hard work, diligence, and work ethic encourages many of us to continue moving forward."

Victoria Wilkins, OMS-I

Hometown: Scotch Plains, New Jersey

Life Before Touro: Up until college, I played soccer and it was a very big part of my life. In high school, I became an EMT and have been one for six years now! I went to Seton Hall University for undergrad, where I majored in Biology and then ended up at Touro!

Favorite Quote: “This too shall pass”

Childhood Dreams: To become a doctor, living the dream lol

Hobbies: I love to cook and spend time with my crazy family!

Fun Fact: I just ran my first half marathon!

Nomination Quote: "Victoria is a compassionate and kind human being who is a great voice of reason when people are overwhelmed. She manages to stay calm during stressful times and is always there to help out others in need. Victoria puts a smile on so many faces everyday. She encourages everyone to take care of themselves mentally and physically. She is incredibly hard working and is always there to help anyone out."

Vanshika Arora, MS

Hometown: Vinton, Virginia (Originally from India) 

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Virginia Tech as a Biology Major in 2022. While in college, I was working as a pharmacy technician and later as a scribe under orthopedic surgeons. I did research in oncology and developed cancer models about how certain cancers work using the coding language called Netlogo.

Favorite Quote: "Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."- Oscar Wilde

Childhood Dreams: I had MANY phases as a child for what I want to be when I grow up. I remember some of them were: Principal of a school, Badminton player, Business owner, Musician, and the list keeps going

Hobbies: Racquetball, Yoga, and Learning a new instrument (Guitar these days)

Fun Fact: I am very flexible, you know what that means- that I am good at Yoga. Recently I discovered in the OMM lab that it's also because I am Hypermobile and if you do a Texas twist on me, it can be fatal, fun stuff!

Nomination Quote: "Vanshika has always gone out of her way to help others and is one of the most hardworking people I know. She has made a genuinely positive impact on the community and her classmates by taking lead in special events such as Holi. I saw the hours and effort that she put into planning and carrying out the event in the midst of exams and how wonderful it turned out. I admire her ability to constantly take initiative and advise anyone who may be struggling. She is kind, resilient, and dedicated. I am glad that I can confide in her about anything and when it comes to guidance, she strives to have everyone's best interest at heart. She has been an incredible friend both in and outside of the classroom, and is very deserving of student of the month."

March 2023

Lyndsey Sbarro, OMS-III

Hometown: Yardley, PA

Life Before Touro: Before Touro I went to Drexel University where I received both my BS and MS in Biomedical engineering. While in college, I worked as an EMT and volunteered at various hospitals in Philadelphia. Later on I worked as an engineer at a pharmaceutical company but, as cliche as it sounds, I always felt like there was something missing. I ultimately decided to take a major risk and apply to medical school! Now, as I finish up my third year, I can confidently say that "shooting my shot" (as the kids say) was the best decision I could have made, even if I was unsure of the outcome. 

Favorite Quote: "Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things" -George Carlin

Childhood Dreams: To be Batman (or at least to own the batmobile)

Hobbies: Crochet, Painting, 3D-printing/CAD, Hiking (a struggle, but I always enjoy my snack at the top)

Fun Fact: I used to ride a unicycle as a kid instead of a bike. Yes, I was super popular.

Nomination Quote: "Lyndsey is an exemplary student and friend. She is constantly going above and beyond to help her classmates out on rotations and be a friendly face. She spends so much time caring for all of her patients. Her care towards others is the core of who she is as a human being, as evidenced by her in depth commitment to the student body and larger Middletown community. "

Sonia Nemani, OMS-II

Hometown: Rochester, NY 

Life Before Touro:  I went to undergrad at George Washington University in Washington D.C. where I majored in Public Health and Minored in Biology. I graduated in 2020 and immediately after started an MBA in Data Analytics at Lousiana State University at Shreveport. While studying, I worked full-time as a Lab Assistant at GWU at their in-house COVID research and testing lab where we were processing 1000+ test tubes daily. In 10 months, I completed my MBA and soon after was accepted to Touro Middletown.

Favorite Quote: "It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest potential for doing good, both for oneself and others."

Childhood Dreams: When I was really little, I wanted to be a McDonald's drive-through window worker because my parents would tell me I had a unique voice. Then I wanted to be a vet or teacher. In middle school after getting typhoid, I started paying attention to the patient stories my parents would tell at dinner and that began my interest in medicine

Hobbies: I play tennis and ski. I am a big foodie and love to try new foods and restaurants. My dad and I have similar music tastes and we go to concerts together whenever we can.

Fun Fact: My dream trip right now is going to Thailand!

Nomination Quote: "I would like to nominate Sonia because she is such a kind friend and classmate. She goes out of her way inside and outside of the class to make everyone feel included. She will help any student that is in need and will go the extra mile to make sure she has done everything in her power to help others. In addition to that she worked extremely hard over the past year as the treasurer of SGA. Even after her role had been completed she made sure to train the new treasurer and was there whenever SGA board needed her. She is overall just a great friend and peer and deserves to be recognized. "

Oluwasegun Odukoya, OMS-I

Hometown: Washington, DC

Life Before Touro: I attended college in Maryland where I played football, ran a mentoring program for inner city youth, and did organic chemical research. I got my masters and worked as an ex-Vivo lung perfusionist technician before starting here at Touro

Favorite Quote: an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” 

Childhood Dreams: to be the chillest doctor alive 

Hobbies: weight lifting and hanging out with friends

Fun Fact: I have more tattoos than special senses

Nomination Quote: "Louie is a beacon of joy in our class. He is one of the most engaged students at Touro and will always be the first student to volunteer or answer questions in class. No matter what class we are in or what time it is Louie's hand is in the air ready to engage and help lead the discussion in class. He makes it his job to greet every person he sees and tries to make everyone feel welcome and heard. Despite the month he has had he never let up and kept pushing through adversity and our trying exam schedule. He embodies every unique characteristic of what TouroCOM's student of the month should be. "

Dayanna Zuluaga, MS

Hometown: Long Island, NY

Life Before Touro:  I received my Bachelor in Biology w/ a Minor in Digital Arts '22 from Stony Brook University.

Favorite Quote: "The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty." - Winston Churchill 

Childhood Dreams: I wanted to be an artist full-time and live out my days doing arts and crafts.

Hobbies: I love to cook & bake, go on long hikes, make art, and look at puppy/dog videos.

Fun Fact: I can recite the 50 States in alphabetical order in under 20 seconds! 

Nomination Quote: "I believe Dayanna should be awarded student of the month because of her kind personality and willingness to go out of her comfort zone for others. She is not afraid to participate in class when no one else wants to answer. Dayanna is one of the most level-headed, disciplined, and persistent students I have seen throughout this program. She is always seeking self-improvement while adding to the success of her peers. Dayanna proactively works towards a high standard that she has set for herself. In addition to her being a diligent, hardworking student, she has simultaneously dedicated a lot of time this past year to joining the U.S. Air Force through its medical scholarship program in the military. 

Addtionally, whenever I needed support, Dayanna really took the time and effort to be there for me and explain things thoroughly. She pushes the people around her to do their best and keeps them accountable while supporting them.  All around Dayanna is one of the sweetest people in the program and will do anything to to help others.."

February 2023

Peter Dunn, OMS-III

Hometown: New Hyde Park, Long Island NY 

Life Before Touro: I moved down to Baltimore and attended Loyola University Maryland where I graduated with a degree in Biochemistry in 2019.  While there, I enjoyed playing club Ice Hockey and exploring the charm city.  After graduation, I worked as a medical assistant in NYC until I started at Touro 

Favorite Quote: “Great moments are born from great opportunity.” – Herb Brooks

Childhood Dreams: To play college hockey, and then go to the league to play for the Rangers as a 3rd round draft pick. 

Hobbies: Golfing, skiing, pond hockey, Morgan Wallen, and mozzerella sticks 

Fun Fact: Blood type O+

Nomination Quote: "Pete has been shining throughout his 3rd year clinical rotations, but I wish to highlight his strength as a medical student on Emergency Clerkship. He exhibited exceptional work ethic, taking initiative with patients, honing his interview and presentation skills as well as developing technical skills including venous access and ultrasound technique. 

He is such an asset to the medical team, including fellow students, assisting others in any way. Clinically, after a visit with Pete, patient's demeanor was always more positive and upbeat than upon arrival. The same is true for the entire staff and students. Pete's ability to brighten anyone's day is unmatched. His passion for medicine and dedication to patients will be an asset to any medical team and he will be an incredible physician."

Jenna LaColla, OMS-II

Hometown: Beacon, NY

Life Before Touro: I graduated with my BS in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in 2018. I then moved to Stockholm, Sweden to do bioinformatics research for 6 months at the Karolinska Institute (the university that awards the Nobel Prize in Medicine every year)! Once I moved back to the States, I began working as a medical scribe in the Emergency Department at Vassar Brothers Medical Center in Poughkeepsie, NY and learned so much prior to starting my medical school journey!

Favorite Quote: "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

Childhood Dreams: My first dream was to be a mermaid, but I quickly learned that isn't possible. Then at the age of 4 I decided to become a doctor, and I'm so thrilled to be making that dream a reality!

Hobbies: Cooking, baking, and yoga

Fun Fact: I'm a Certified Yoga Teacher and actually taught a class on the beach while I was on vacation in the DR!

Nomination Quote: "Jen embodies the definition of a true friend. If you're ever struggling, she is there to support you both emotionally and physically. No matter what she has going on in her life, she is there to listen to your problems and struggles. She is also a natural leader in groups. She is the type of leader who does not dominate a group, but instead observes to see what a group needs and  then fills in whatever role needs to be done. To me, serving and not dominating a group shows true leadership. This was shown when Dr. Brown asked for someone to be a class rep for med sim this semester. She volunteered only after other people did not show interest, not because she was disinterested in the position, but because she wanted to see if others wanted the position first. This sums up Jen - putting her own interests aside silently in order to give other people a chance to shine. She also is involved in Sim Team as the Coordinator, and ensures that sim team works as a seamless unit. She is a mentor in med achieve, and truly cares for her mentees well-being and mentors him as much as she can by always checking in with him and reaching out to him. She is also always there for people to lend a helping hand. For example, Rik was tutoring PA students and she took time of her day to hump in and help for two hours when she's not even an official tutor for the PA students!! She did this not out of personal gain, but because she truly cares about every student in this school (DO, PA, masters) and not just her friends. She does everything really, silently and humbly, and I would love for her to finally get the recognition she deserves. "

Justin Prusinski, MS

Hometown: Latham, NY

Life Before Touro: I graduated from SUNY Albany in 2019, receiving a BS in Human Biology with minors in Psychology and Neuroscience. During that time, I worked as a patient care technician in the ER, ICU, and surgical units. Since graduation, I have been working as a medical scribe in the ER  

Favorite Quote: “Never let success get to your head; never let failure get to your heart.”

Childhood Dreams: I was always between playing in the NFL for the New York Giants or joining Lucasfilm to work on future Star Wars movies.

Hobbies: Traveling, hiking, video games, trying various foods/coffee shops, playing sports, going to concerts, and exercising. The easy answer is anything that involves me being outside in the summertime.

Fun Fact: In 2018, I participated in a study abroad program in Belize where I participated in a literacy program for grade school students at various schools in San Ignacio. During my free time, I was able to zipline through the jungle, travel through pitch-black caves at night with only a headlamp, and snorkeled with nurse sharks!

Nomination Quote: "I think Justin deserves student of the month because he is a person who always looks out for his peers. During stressful times with exams coming up he has always been a person that motivates others, constantly compliments them on their hard work. One key thing that lead me to nominate him was his ability to stand up for his peers and help them out when they are at their low despite juggling his own work and life despite this being a competitive program. So I appreciate having met Justin at Touro and believe he deserves a recognition for all his kindness and hard work. "

January 2023

Melissa Zahl, OMS-III

Hometown: Point Pleasant, NJ

Life Before Touro: Beach kid, hard worker, oncology dietitian, thrill seeker 

Favorite Quote: "You're stronger than you think. You'll always be stronger than you think. Feel with your heart and do what you want." -Corey Taylor

Childhood Dreams: Live in Hawai'i

Hobbies: Snowboarding, concerts, checking things off the bucket list

Fun Fact: I had a tattoo on the bottom of my big toe once, it only lasted 6 days

Nomination Quote: "Melissa has been an excellent representative of Touro and great classmate during her 3rd year rotations. On every rotation, she stays late and asks her preceptors for more work so that she can learn more while contributing to the medical team. She is always looking to enhance her own knowledge! I believe setting this kind of example is of utmost importance- when preceptors see her as an example of hard work and determination, she is really serving as an ambassador for Touro!

In addition to this, she has worked hard to help her classmates. She provides great study outlines and shares study tips for shelf exams. She is sure to include many people, regardless of their rotation site. In addition, she seeks out research opportunities everywhere she goes. The most impressive part of this, however, is that she seeks out research for her classmates as well, not just for herself. If she finds an opportunity in a specialty a classmate is interested in, she is always sure to connect the student with the appropriate preceptor, rather than just keep it for herself. This type of selflessness is rare, but so important in the medical field!"

Megha Nadig, OMS II

Hometown: Norwalk, CT

Life Before Touro: I studied music education in undergrad. I taught band, orchestra, and general music in NYC and in North Carolina. After deciding to pursue a career in medicine, I went back to school for prerequisite courses then taught high school chemistry during my gap years.

Favorite Quote: "If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives." - Lemony Snicket

Childhood Dreams: My childhood dream was to be an architect

Hobbies: I like to play a variety of instruments, quilt, build computers, play video games, explore new restaurants, and tend to my plants.

Fun Fact: I helped grow the local pokemon trading card game community during my time in North Carolina. I took a test on the rules of the trading card game, became an official Pokemon professor, and was certified to judge at official trading card game events.

Nomination Quote: "I believe that Megha should be awarded student of the month due to her friendly personality and participation in class. Megha is the type of person that can start a conversation with anyone. She isn't afraid to say hi to anyone and dive into a deep conversation with them. She creates a collaborative environment between students by including everyone in her conversation. In class, Megha asks thought provoking questions. Not only does she ask great questions, but she isn't afraid to pitch an answer when a professor poses a question and no one else is willing to answer. Her answers are usually well constructed and keeps the class moving. Additionally, I feel that she steps up in her role as a Physical Diagnosis TA. She puts countless hours into reviewing and perfecting the exam review PowerPoints. Also, she takes the time to organize the TA calendar. All around, Megha is a great person, student and friend in the Touro community!"

Tegan Gallina, OMS-I

Hometown: I grew up near Ann Arbor, MI, but moved to Brooklyn for high school

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Brooklyn College in 2020 with a BS in Biology, and from the Touro MS program last year. I worked all through my time in undergrad, and was most recently an urgent care senior scribe for 3 years.

Favorite Quote: "Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." Ginny Weasley

Childhood Dreams: Before deciding to pursue medicine, I wanted to go into environmental research. I worked in a lab at Columbia from my sophomore year of high school until partway through my first year of undergrad studying phytoplankton and carbon cycling. I loved the work, but was ultimately missing the fulfillment associated with patient care.

Hobbies: When I have a spare morning here, I like going rock climbing and hiking. I have also played the trumpet for over 15 years. 

Fun Fact: I love building Ikea furniture.

Nomination Quote: "Tegan has always been a leader among her peers and for her underclassmen. She engages with the community and with the school through different events. While studying and completing her coursework, she has been helping with organizing the upcoming MCI event through the SIM team for the Spring Semester. 

Instead of going home for the winter break, she stayed in Middletown to help with the community. She volunteered a lot of her time at the Warming Station overnight to help with the homeless population. Even during the extremely cold holiday weekend when the Warming Station stayed open for 24 hours, Tegan had stayed beyond the 12-hour time frame to help the staff. What made this more challenging was that the station had frozen water pipes, so there was no running water for cleaning. The staff had to find alternative solutions to acquire water for the station and for its guest. She also established goodwill with the other volunteers of the community, providing a positive representation of a Touro student and our work ethic."

Gia Nguyen, MS

Hometown: Fairfax, VA

Life Before Touro: I grew up in a fishing village in Viet Nam. My family ran a small fish-sauce bottling shop; I was the labeler and cap-sealer. I started high school in the US, and before joining Touro, I was a volunteer EMT-B for 5 years and a medical scribe.

Favorite Quote: "Be quick to apologize, be slow to take offense" -Unknown

Childhood Dreams: Blacksmith. Things took a drastic turn somewhere early on.

Hobbies: Repairing things, traveling, road trips, doing nothing. 

Fun Fact: I hate cooked fish (see above). I also have a soft rule to not decline free food, so please don’t do it.

Nomination Quote: "Gia has been a role model for his peers in the MS program. His work ethic and study habits keep those around him focused on the task at hand. He keeps a box of ice cream sandwiches in the freezer, and whenever he sees a fellow student who seems down, he offers them ice as a pick-me-up. Despite being a high-achieving student, he can balance his schedule with volunteering for community events that provide education for children. Two prime examples were his involvement in the Educational Haunted House event and the Rose Elementary School educational event in the Fall semester. He takes the initiative within the school to help the faculty with their projects, such as assisting the Anatomy Department with dissections over the winter break."

November/ December 2022

Negar Heidarpour Bardei, OMS-III

Hometown: Laguna Niguel, CA

Life Before Touro: I am a proud daughter of two amazing Persian American immigrant parents. I was born and raised in Iran. When I was 12 years old, my parents packed their bags and moved across the world to give me and my brother the opportunity to have a better life and the chance to make our dreams reality. 

Favorite Quote: “I stand on the sacrifice of a million women before me thinking what can I do to make this mountain taller so the women after me can see farther” – Rupi Kaur

“Determined to find it… Destined to reach it…”

“Dont let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game" - OG: A cinderella story

Childhood Dreams: To be a violinist at the Philharmonic Orchestra.    

Hobbies: Painting, eating ice cream with sprinkles, listening to Persian music, salsa dancing, watching the moon at night while listening to the waves at the beach. 

Fun Fact: I love exploring the world and I’ve visited over 11 countries

Nomination Quote: Negar is not only an incredible person, but an incredible student and leader as well. She has taken rotations by storm, putting in extra hours to learn as much as she can, setting up schedules for her peers, and sharing information with other students about what to expect on each rotation. She is unapologetically herself - which is a thoughtful, kind, and fearless individual. She always goes out of her way to brighten everyone's day and deserves to be recognized as an outstanding student.

Paola Arteaga, OMS-II

Hometown: Linden, NJ

Life Before Touro: Before coming to Touro, I was an SAT Program Coordinator for Office of Diversity and Academic Successes (ODASIS) which sparked my interest in mentoring the next generation of minority youth. While volunteering as an EMT at Freehold EMS squad, working as an ophthalmology technician, I enjoyed taking care of others not just medically but putting their mind at ease in times of distress. 

Favorite Quote: “What defines us is how well we rise after we fall.”

Childhood dream: I dreamed of giving my dad a day off from work because he is one the hardest working people I know. Now I would like to give my family more than a day off but a nice vacation to their dream spot.  

Hobbies: I enjoy singing alone on long car rides, dancing with friends, and going to the gym. 

Fun Fact: In high school I was part of a modeling agency and was an extra in two music videos. Although I did not get much camera footage, my friend got a picture with Enrique Iglesias and my best friend got a close up on camera during the video. Haha. 

Nomination Quote: Paola is not someone that I have spoken to often, but every time I have, she has always been friendly. Paola is very approachable and works diligently as a class representative. She provides many updates to students, always keeping us in the loop. She works hard to get the class all they resources they ask for and to meet the needs of the students. One of the things I love about Paola is that she actually thanks the class for reaching out to her and coming to her with their concerns. In addition to being a star class representative, Paola has successfully started the Latino Medical Student Association. This club has hosted countless events from Spanish lessons, to medical screenings for people in the underserved community, fundraising for hurricane relief and so much more. All and all, I can always tell that Paola is trying her best and I would love to see her get recognized for making Touro a better place.

Rika Kaneshige, OMS-I

Hometown: Honolulu, HI

Life Before Touro: Received my Bachelors of Science in Neuroscience '21 and Masters of Public Health '22 from the George Washington University, in Washington DC.

Favorite Quote:  "You are exactly where you are meant to be" - unknown

Childhood Dreams: Disney Imagineer 

Hobbies: Running, Hiking

Fun Fact: I was an extra for NCIS Hawaii (Season 2, Episode 1). Look out for me on the USS Arizona at the Pearl Harbor Memorial!

Nomination Quote: Rika is constantly sending (very well written) study guides to our class' group chat. She is helpful and kind, and her resources have been awesome!

Sohail Khan, MS

Hometown: Jersey City + Philly

Life Before Touro: Pharmaceutical & Healthcare Business + United States Marine Corps (still doing it)

Favorite Quote: “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Childhood Dreams: Become a Marine, practice critical care and/or cardiothoracic surgery, and launch a global pharmaceutical supply chain management startup 🚀 no cap

Hobbies: Painting with oil/acrylics, drawing with charcoal/graphite, cooking different cultural foods 360° with the wrist motion, and intense workouts/hikes

Fun Fact: I’m a polyglot — I speak about thirteen languages & another four coding languages.  Other than that, I’m into CIA, GOT, LOTR, HP movies

Nomination Quote: Sohail Khan has been very resourceful and instrumental towards the rest of his classmates within the 2022 Middletown MS Program. From tech support to course related discussions, Sohail Khan has consistently exemplified his professionalism and altruism by continuing to provide his assistance towards the students as well as instructors and faculty members. Please take Sohail Khan's candidacy into immense consideration for this Student of the Month accolade.

This student has shown honorable behavior in and out of class. In the classroom, he actively assist in any IT related difficulties and consistently is engaged and asks thought provoking questions. Outside of the classroom, sohail strives to help his fellow classmates in times of need and during times of struggle by trying to teach others difficult concepts. I nominate Sohail Khan for student of the month due to his hard work in and out the school, not only being a student he manages his 25 hour+ workload every week as a Marine Corps Officer and that’s an honorable attribute.

I want to nominate Sohail for his passion for the material and his commitment to helping and teaching fellow students. I have seen him repeatedly take hours out of his study time, even the night before exams, and devote it to ensuring his peers fully grasp the material. Sohail has a talent for breaking down and explaining math problems in a way every student can understand. He uses popular culture as a metaphor for tough concepts and therefore analogously supports the learning comprehension of other students.

In class, Sohail is unafraid to ask questions. He occasionally leads the question with humor when the class is tense because of the heavy load of exams. Sohail is a voice for students who are otherwise anxious or nervous to ask questions. He genuinely cares for the class and creates an atmosphere of open discussion and collaboration. Whenever there are any technical issues during clinical case studies or lecture hours, he always has a solution to help with the period of instruction.

Sohail is always willing to help and acts like a team player.

Sohail is always willing to go above and beyond to help his peers. He is very personable and friendly and always has a cheerful and positive outlook.

Doing excellent this year in the MS program!

October 2022

Danielle Savastano, OMS-III

Hometown: Wayne, NJ

Life Before Touro: I was born and raised in New Jersey and my family moved to Dallas, Texas junior year of highschool, getting the best of both worlds. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2020 and majored in biology. You can bet I attended every home football game during their glory days of championship playoffs and Heisman winners. Junior year I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad in Barcelona. Shortly after an online quarantine graduation, I began studies at Touro. 

Favorite Quote:  "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right." -Henry Ford 

Childhood Dreams: I was convinced I was going to be a huge fashion designer, learned how to sew and had my stuffed animals absolutely styling. 

Hobbies: Spending time in nature, hiking, hot yoga, reading. I travel as often as I can- I love seeing the way people live in other parts of the world & getting acquainted with new cultures.

Fun Fact: I have a twin sister! Everyone always asks if she's also in the medical field, but she actually faints at the sight of blood. 

Nomination Quote: "First, Danielle is a kind and warm person and an amazing mentor to younger students and peers alike. She takes the time to recommend study tools and strategies, offers to explain difficult concepts, and provides positivity and encouragement to those around her! As an OMS-III on rotations, Danielle also goes above and beyond for her patients at the VA. She takes extra time to provide comfort and a listening ear, and explains diagnoses and treatments; this makes a big difference to those who need it most.  Danielle embodies compassion and dedication to the values of our profession and I can't think of anyone more deserving of Student of the Month! "

Khadija Malik, OMS-II

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Life Before Touro: I was a Senior Scribe at an Urgent Care before matriculating into the Master’s Program at Touro & then getting admitted into the DO program. 

Favorite Quote: "Too many people spent their lives performing a role they thought they were supposed to play as opposed to simply being who they were”

Childhood Dreams: I wish I had something more interesting to say, but I’ve always wanted to be a doctor haha

Hobbies: Driving home on the weekends

Fun fact: My first week of medical school I was hospitalized with appendicitis & told I needed an emergency appendectomy. But it was a Wednesday night so I told the doctors that I had classes the next day & I couldn’t get the surgery done… the doctors were definitely very patient with me. Also shout out to Sayma for taking me to the hospital & not letting me die <3.

Nomination Quote: "Khadija is such a warm and hard-working soul. She balances being the president of one of the most active clubs on campus, going to multiple conferences and bettering herself as an osteopathic medical student, all the while studying for our own classes and still making time for things that she likes to do. Aside from her being an amazing student, she's the first person to offer someone food, a cup of tea, or somewhere to sit if you don't have anywhere to go for the hour between classes. I'm so grateful to have Khadija as a friend and a peer."

Dan Pekker, OMS-I

Hometown: Sunnyvale, CA

Life Before Touro: I was born in Haifa, Israel, but I spent my whole conscious life in California. I graduated from UC Santa Cruz (go slugs!) in 2019 with a BS in Cognitive Science and a concentration in facial perception and mate choice. I then worked 2.5 years as a Critical Care EMT and another year as a COVID Health Coordinator at a preK-12 school!

Favorite Quote: “Should you shield the canyons from the windstorms, you would never see the beauty of their carvings." - Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Childhood Dreams: When my first family dog passed away, my mom told me that he became a star. Accordingly, my first career ambition was to become an astronaut and retrieve him from the cosmos.

Hobbies: My interests are diverse and erratic, but my core hobbies include hiking, reading and writing poetry, birdwatching, gardening, and doodling.

Fun Fact: I’m really passionate about pediatric ethics! One question I’m particularly interested in exploring is autonomy:  how much say children of varying ages and maturity levels should have in their treatment plan, especially in terminal cases where the child’s wishes contradict that of their parents.

Nomination Quote: "I would like to nominate Dan Pekker due to his absolute sincerity and dedication for creating a positive, welcoming and friendly environment for the class of 2026. Since being on campus Dan has sent positive messages with funny and remarkable factoids to help us remember details for exams and encourages supporting and bolstering each and every single one of us in class. Dan is active in the classroom to ask questions and create discussions with students. You can never have a dull or hollow conversation with someone so passionate about medicine, people, and interests all around. Dan does not shy to be active and a friend to all of our class and make sure we are all striving for our best health and education here. I truly hope to see Dan do incredible things here and is much deserving of student of the month. 


Jake Singh, MS

Hometown: Palo Alto, CA

Life Before Touro: Tech & Research. I also did extensive volunteering with the unhoused community in Berkeley, CA.

Favorite Quote: "WINE!"- Robert Baratheon

Childhood Dreams: I wanted to own a two-story house and work as an anesthesiologist. Not a whole lot has changed.

Hobbies: Lifting, dancing, chinups, singing country songs (especially Toby Keith), traveling through the National Parks. On a more serious note, my biggest passion is investing heavily in the success of my friends.

Fun Fact: I used to own ducks and chickens & I have an MS in Computer Engineering.

Nomination Quote:  "Jake has been an amazing class rep and has gone above and beyond to share resources for physio exams. Additionally, he does a great job keeping the MS class informed about physiology schedule changes and overall maintaining a solid line of communication with the class. He bridges the professors and students and overall has been a great professional."

"Jake is our class representative for Physiology and he takes his role seriously. He is always on top of his game getting our concerns addressed, working hard to provide his peers with resources, and helping them in any way possible. Jake has not only taken his role as the CR seriously but he also looks out for his peers. When he sends out resources and long emails updating us of all class info he always leaves us with a positive note whether it is just a picture of his dogs. I am nominating Jake because not only has he been working really hard but he has also been very kind and motivating to his peers during this rigorous program by always checking in on us after an exam, addressing our concerns, and by always being there willing to help. Thank you Jake for all you do to help us in stressful times."

September 2022

Leizer Steppa, OMS-IV

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Brandeis University in 2019 with a BA in Psychology. Prior to Brandeis, I lived in Israel for a year and volunteered with the local ambulance corps.

Favorite Quote: "Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.” -Bill Murray

Childhood Dreams: Be a Baseball Player and part-time Zoologist

Hobbies: Making pizza with homemade sourdough crust, listening to music, spending time with family and friends

Fun Fact: My name is pronounced Laser.

Nomination Quote: "Extremely smart, hardworking student. He’s currently rotating all over the country pursuing his dream of becoming a pediatrician. He was an excellent class rep during our second year Clinical Systems course and deserves some recognition. "

Tyler Gopee, OMS-II

Hometown: Wallkill, NY

Life Before Touro: Born and raised in Ulster County, NY. Went to Wallkill Senior High School, then SUNY New Paltz for undergrad. After undergrad I took a gap year and applied to med school.  

Favorite Quote: “You are what you believe in. You become that which you believe you can become.”  -Lord Krishna

Childhood Dreams: As early as I can remember, I really wanted to become a fisherman. Eventually, I realized I wanted to make people feel better, and I became interested in healthcare.

Hobbies: If I get the day off, I guarantee you I am fishing or planning where next to go fishing. I enjoy cooking (baking especially), as well as trying new cuisines.

Fun Fact: When I was around 12, my parents bought me a portable massage table just in case I wanted to become a chiropractor or physical therapist. They knew I liked working with my hands and wanted to go into healthcare. I now use that table to practice OMM.

Nomination Quote: "Tyler always has the best interest of his fellow students at heart. He provides advice to Master students he sees that are struggling and checks up on them periodically. He possesses a wealth of knowledge as he holds three TA positions: BioChem, Physiology and OMM. You can sometimes catch him outside of Classroom 3 helping OMS-1 students on OMM techniques in between his breaks. "

Megan Worthington, OMS-I

Hometown: Maryville, MO

Life Before Touro: I grew up in a small town in Northwestern Missouri, attended college in Southwestern Missouri where I played division two college basketball and majored in Biochemistry with a minor in Spanish. I moved out to NY last year for Touro’s masters program and now they just cannot get rid of me.

Favorite Quote:   “She was powerful. Not because she wasn’t scared but because she went on so strongly despite the fear.” - Harper Lee

Childhood Dreams: When I was younger I always thought that I would grow up to be a mechanic like my dad.

Hobbies: I enjoy spending time outside -hiking, biking, wishing my cat liked going on walks…the usual.

Fun Fact:  My high school had a drive your tractor to school day, and an annual cow tongue toss- the middle of nowhere version of egg toss.

Nomination Quote: "Megan is always willing to go above and beyond for her fellow cohort and other students of TCOMM. She is constantly helping others who are struggling whether it be academically or personally. Megan is a sounding board to some and a valuable resource to others"

"I want to nominate Megan because from my first day here at Touro, Megan has been a fantastic help to me. I met Megan during orientation in the bathroom she adopted me as a mentee from that day. Megan let me know she was once in my shoes in the Master's program and encouraged me that I could do it. I asked her a few questions, and she gave me her phone number to talk to her that weekend without even knowing me. Megan walked me through how to prepare for each class, introduced me to her friends, had a friend help set up my Anki, and shared her resources with me. Megan always checks in and is willing to help. She has been the best Mentor and friend. "

"Megan has been an absolutely wonderful friend and study partner. She wants to see her classmates do well so she creates a ton of study materials to share with them. I have seen her hard at work, using her free time to help and mentor current first year and MS students. I, personally, would not be here if it was not for her willingness to help. With some people, you can just tell that they have your best interest in mind and Megan is one of those people. She has wonderful leadership skills and fights for what is right. I would love to see her run for SGA because I know she has our best interest in mind and will continue to work hard to help her classmates. She really deserves this."

Nigora Jurabaeva, MS

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Life Before Touro: I attended Brooklyn College where I majored in Psychology and minored in Chemistry. After graduating in 2021, I worked as an EMT during

my gap year which was one of the best experiences and made me want to pursue medicine even more. I also worked as a barista and enjoyed making latte

art. I still go back to my old job from time to time to make myself the perfect cup

of coffee.

Favorite Quote: “Nothing without great effort."

Motto of Brooklyn College

Childhood Dreams: I wanted to become a singer, but I have absolutely no artistic talent.

Hobbies: I enjoy hiking, lifting, and tennis. A good book or a show is also amazing on a rainy day.

Fun Fact: I speak two other languages which are Russian and Tajik (Farsi)

Nomination Quote: "Nigora was outstanding in her role as the MS Biochem Class Rep this month by addressing student concerns and questions as soon as they came up, especially around exam time. Even in her absence, she made sure to keep the class notified of any updates. She came up with the idea to consolidate notifications and updates into a specialized group so fellow students can find subject related content. This made updating the class more streamlined, to which the other MS Class Reps emulated this idea for their corresponding classes. Effective communication is important for the success of the class, and that is where Nigora thrives."

"Nigora is the Biochemistry Class Representative for the MS class. She is constantly meeting with Dr. Bagh and Dr. Kamath about the class concerns, finding ways to improve our course, and updating the class accordingly. Nigora initiated a separate GroupMe for Biochemistry-related topics, so the class can have easy access to all Biochemistry updates that she provides several times a week. Most recently, Nigora worked with Dr. Bagh to organize a weekly 30-minute review session in order to refresh the material from the past week! I found this session to be extremely helpful in keeping the information current, while also reiterating the most important topics of the course material.  In addition to the aforementioned reasons, I am nominating Nigora Jurabaeva as the SOTM for September because she is always looking out for others and making sure we are effectively coping with this rigorous program. She is truly a wonderful person and, consequently, an amazing class representative. Thank you, Nigora, for all you do inside and outside of the Biochemistry classroom."

August 2022

Nicholas Gatto, OMS-III

Hometown: Warwick, NY

Life Before Touro: I was born in Ohio, but grew up right around the corner in Warwick, NY. I went to undergrad in Boston at Northeastern University, and l lived in Brooklyn and Jersey City. My background is in biotech, but I guess that just wasn't close enough to the medicine for me.

Favorite Quote: "Whenever I'm about to do something, I think, "Would an idiot do that?" And if they would, I do not do that thing." -Dwight K. Schrute

Childhood Dreams: Any occupation that could allow me to play Video Games. Although I'm pretty sure designing or professionally playing games probably sucks all the fun out of them by the end. Not that I think the latter was a viable option for me as a career path.

Hobbies: Film/Television, Video Games, Cooking, tinkering with new technology, travelling, Nature. And more recently I've been getting into Peek-a-boo (with Griffin!). My dog Nacho and cat Keiko are definitely getting jealous of the attention he's been getting from my wife Keri and me.

Fun Fact: My favorite study buddy is my 8 month old son Griffin. He doesn't actually help me focus or explain any concepts to me, but we're more or less on the same sleep schedule and he thinks I'm hilarious. I was told that the best way to learn the childhood developmental milestones was to have a child. I can confirm it makes it more memorable, but there's probably easier and faster methods out there.

Nomination Quote: "Nick is an outstanding person. Not only did he hold a leadership position for SGA, volunteer, attend club activities, study for class and boards but all while being a new dad! He brightened online class time by with lighthearted jokes and having his son in his lap. Now Nick is in clinical rotations for Family Medicine. He is doing his very best to support his patients and learn from his preceptors. Nick always has such a warm presence that while certainly make a fantastic bedside manner. "

Destiney Taylor, OMS-II

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Lincoln University in 2019 with a bachelor's of science in biochemistry and molecular biology. I immediately started working as a medical scribe at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Spring 2019 while simultaneously studying for the MCAT. In 2020, I was admitted to the Masters's program at Touro COM- Middletown, which I completed in May 2021, and was directly admitted into the DO program. 

Favorite Quote: Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you." declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

Childhood Dreams: Professional basketball player in WNBA 

Hobbies: I enjoy cooking, exercising, spending time with my family, and living my best life ALWAYS. 

Fun Fact: I played basketball for over 12 years. In high school, I was recognized for scoring over 1000 points from 9th-12th grade.

Nomination Quote: "Besides continuously showing up and participating in every class, Destiney motivates every single student she encounters. She has personally helped me find the confidence in my studying and motivated me every day to be the best version of myself that I can be. Her faith and positivity is absolutely inspiring, and it has been a huge privilege to have her as a classmate and friend. She is also an anatomy TA and I got to see her give advice and knowledge to first years. She is extremely involved in her own studies and doesn’t let her grades falter while being involved in research, clubs, and being a TA. Her essence inspires me to continue to work hard because the one thing I’ve learned from her, is that we are strong enough to handle anything that is thrown at  you."

Kush Patel, OMS-I

Hometown: New City, NY in Rockland county 

Life Before Touro: Went to Stony Brook University graduated in 2019 with a Major in health science and minor in Biology. Then I worked at CITYMD urgent care in Rockland county as Senior Medical Scribe for the past 3 years. I enjoyed teaching new scribes the basics of HPI Documentation and urgent care Medicine. 


Favorite Quote: "The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it" - Jordan Belfort


Childhood Dreams: I want to be a Veterinarian for exotic animals. 


Hobbies: Weightlifting, Volleyball, Soccer, Cooking, Watching Anime :)

Fun Fact: In the 3rd grade, I sustained a nice abrasion on my nose while playing in recess. The next day was picture day and I still have that photo to this day. Also my fashion sense has not changed at all since then. I didn't choose the floral patterned life, it chose me.

Nomination Quote: "Kush has been a leader since day 1. He has single-handedly created a google drive to allow students to share their study materials. He has also been a main contributor of these materials. Kush is eager to help other students and always had an enthusiastic attitude." 

"Kush has gone above and beyond to help his classmates acclimate and start school off on the right foot. He has made and shared anki decks and is always available to explain difficult topics."

"Going above and beyond to answer questions from peers and to help them understand the material at greater depths. Kush is always there to help us learn and committed to having all of us succeed."

Justin Peter Rosales, MS

Hometown: Lake in the Hills, IL

Life Before Touro: I have recently completed my Bachelor's of Science majoring in Biomedical Sciences with minors in Chemistry, Psychology, and Perspectives in Science, Technology, and Medicine at SIUE in the Spring 2022. I was previously a Behavioral Technician at Hope Autism Clinic, a Patient Care Associate in Mercy Hospital - St. Louis, and an Organic Chemistry TA.

Favorite Quote: "purrrr" - Gen Z

Childhood Dreams: I was planning to make it on Broadway in middle school but I found Medicine cooler.

Hobbies: K-pop Dancing, Classical Vocal Performance, writing Fanfiction, and an avid Simmer.

Fun Fact: I was the top player of Glee Trivia in Illinois in October of 2013.

Nomination Quote: "Justin went above and beyond to ensure his fellow students had all the proper resources to prepare for the 1st Anatomy exam. He even reached out to our Harlem Campus counterparts to share study materials and resources as well. He provided external videos of anatomy lab dissections that are similar to our labs to enable students to review anatomy lab material if they had missed Open Lab hours. Justin also maintains a positive learning environment among his peers."

April 2022

Leizer Streppa, OMS-III

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Brandeis University in 2019 with a BA in Psychology. Prior to Brandeis, I lived in Israel for a year and volunteered with the local ambulance corps.

Favorite Quote: "There are big ships, there are little ships, there are ships that sail the seven seas, but the best ships are friendships, forever shall they be."

Childhood Dreams: Be a Baseball Player or a Zookeeper

Hobbies: Making pizza with homemade sourdough crust, listening to music, playing and watching sports, spending time with family and friends, reading graphic novels

Fun Fact: I used to figure skate and I am named after a beam of light.

Nomination Quote: "He is an all around great guy and will be a skilled and caring pediatrician in the near future. Apart from easily being one of the smartest people in our class, Leizer is an outgoing and dedicated student. He was class representative for clinical systems and fostered an excellent relationship with the student body and faculty. He is funny, always around to help out his friends in a pinch, and just generally a well-rounded individual..."

Lindsay Hock, OMS-II

Hometown: Wethersfield, CT


Life Before Touro: I graduated from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and moved to Boston shortly after. I already loved Boston sports, but living in the city made me fall in love with the area even more; I really miss going to weekly Red Sox or Bruins games! In Boston, I worked as an engineer in the biotech industry, leading a team to make monoclonal antibodies and viral vectored therapeutics. It was awesome! Unpopular opinion, but I love cell culture!


Favorite Quote: "Eventually all things fall into place. Until then, laugh at the confusion, live for the moments, and know everything happens for a reason" - Albert Schweitzer


"You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take – Wayne Gretzky" – Michael Scott


Childhood Dreams: To be a pro soccer player like Mia Hamm…or a doctor or lawyer (aka like I wrote in my 6th grade year book lol)


Hobbies: Playing sports (especially field hockey and golf), watching Boston pro sports, going to the beach, finding new breweries, and playing with my adorable puppy


Fun Fact: I learned how to row a gondola on the Grand Canal in Venice during my study abroad semester!

Nomination Quote: "Lindsay Hock is an outstanding student. She puts her heart into everything she does for the school, her peers and the community. Lindsay is immersed in this school in so many ways including but not limited to having been a MedAchieve mentor for two years in a row, putting in extra hours as a TA, holding leadership positions in more than one club, participating in research, being an active member of SSP and finding the time to volunteer as a part of the Orange County Medical Reserve Corp all while being an academically excellent student. 

Lindsay inspires people to dream big and reach their full potential. Her unyielding support has been a beacon of light to many of her friends when the exam schedule had gotten challenging over the past two years. On top of all of her extracurricular work, she is always willing to help review material or go over a topic that a friend might be having a hard time with even if it means sacrificing her own time. Best of all, she’s happy to do it and never complains.   

She has been a fantastic President for SOMA, through her leadership and encouragement the members of the eboard were able to accomplish over an impressive amount of events this year including but not limited to: the equipment drive to help students be prepared for PD while also looking out for the student budget, encouraged attendance to local legislator events, held an apple picking event to support a local orchard and remind students to take care of themselves, hosted many educational lectures, co-hosted the TouroCOM Research Symposium, established a sub-division of our SOMA chapter to encompass Pre-SOMA membership including electing Pre-SOMA liaisons, rallied significant attendance for the national SOMA event, Words of Affirmation for FreeArts and then held a TouroCOM event to create additional support for the FreeArts. Lindsay also collaborated to host a Trivia event that raised money for the Warming Station, then had a table at a health fair held there a week later! She is even helping as an associate instructor for a Stop the Bleed event. The list goes on and a page is not enough space as it is hard to eliminate anything. 

The class of 2024 has so many wonderful students but I urge you to consider voting for this spectacular student as she is very modest but deserving of recognition for all that she does. No doubt that she will continue to be a model student here at TouroCOM and motivate those around her! Thank you for your time and consideration."

Shayan Nossrati, OMS-I

Hometown: Bayside, Queens, NY


Life Before Touro: I attended CUNY Queens College, where I receive a B.A. in

Biology. While attending college I was very active in my community. I was an

EMT at Whitestone Volunteer Ambulance Service, part of the FDNY’s 911

Network. It was here that I saw how medicine could help change peoples lives

and my love for the field grew. I also was a tutor at the Queens Public Library

and worked at the rectory of my local church.


Favorite Quote: "Happiness comes to them who bring happiness to others." Zoroaster


Childhood Dreams:  As a child I wanted to be either a physician or a firefighter.


Hobbies: I love being active. I love playing team sports, especially soccer and

basketball. I love hiking and riding my bike.

Fun Fact: My favorite animal is a seal.

Nomination Quote: "If people struggle with material, he comes up with really good ways of memorizing it."

March 2022

Thomas Richter, OMS-IV

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Allegheny College in 2015 with a BS in Biology and BA in Music. I spent a couple of years after college doing multiple part time jobs like wedding gigs, working at a dry cleaners, and coaching soccer as I tried to figure out what career path was best for me. I realized I loved medicine after taking up a scribe position at a small ED in my local area. I did a post-bacc in pre-medicine at VCU as a result, and then came to Touro the following year. 

Favorite Quote: "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." - Yogi Berra

Childhood Dreams: I always wanted to be a drummer in a rock band. 

Hobbies: Soccer (supporting FC Barcelona), golf, piano, drums, guitar, traveling, video games, and doing escape rooms!

Fun Fact: My parents and two older sisters were all born in Bratislava, Slovakia before I was born here in the US. 

Nomination Quote: "Tom has been incredibly helpful to myself and other 3rd years. He has spent many hours giving us tips on how to best approach 4th year and prepare ourselves to be strong candidates for residency. He pulled no punches in using his resources to help us out. He personally set me up with a childhood friend of his who is at a residency program I am looking at. Tom has been a phenomenal mentor and friend the entire time I've been at Touro. He helps a lot of his peers and underclassmen feel much better about the daunting nature of medical school. He is a selfless mentor who goes above and beyond to help others out. Thank you for your time and consideration."

Krista Rounds, OMS-III

Hometown: Whitesboro, NY

Life Before Touro: After receiving my BS in Biology from SUNY Geneseo in 2018, I moved back home. I’ll always look back and cherish that extra year I had to spend with my friends and loved ones (and of course, the local Utica, NY food!). During this time, I was also hired as a medical assistant. I started out in a Family Medicine office before taking on a position in a Neurology office for the remainder of the year. It was a great experience that I’ll always hold near and dear to my heart!

Favorite Quote: “In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.” - Anne Frank

Childhood Dreams: As a child I had dreams of making it on American Idol and becoming an Olympic swimmer!

Hobbies: I usually spend my leisure time creating new recipes. A recent favorite is my chewy caramel carrot cake. 

Fun Fact: I’ve run in Utica, NY’s annual Boilermaker 15K road race 9 times & counting.

Nomination Quote: "I am currently rotating at Oneida Hospital with Student Doctor Rounds. I had a meeting with a hospital administrator who raved about how professional, courteous, and hard-working Krista has been with all of her preceptors. She has received amazing evaluations and has gone above and beyond to help her colleagues. She was very helpful in helping some students decide where to go for their 3rd year rotations, and has been a constant source of support for many of her friends. She is one of the few students who are consistently present for student didactics, and shows respect for all members of the hospital staff. Nominating Student Dr. Rounds for student of the month is long overdue. She has my full endorsement for this recognition, and I hope your committee feels the same."

Melissa Zahl, OMS-II

Hometown: Point Pleasant, NJ

Life Before Touro: I grew up less than 2 miles from the beach. The real Jersey Shore is a truly wonderful area that is nothing like the show. Beautiful beaches with a very laid back lifestyle. September is actually one of the best times of year to go as a local, the water is so warm and the crowds are gone. After high school, I attended Rutgers University for undergrad - home of the original "fat sandwich" sold from the Grease Trucks formerly on College Ave. Quite the experience. PSA - to anyone else from NJ, it is called pork roll not taylor ham! Only Bennys call it taylor ham. After graduation, I had a career as an oncology dietitian before deciding to pursue med school. Attending TouroCOM is actually the first time that I've lived outside of NJ.  

Favorite Quote: "You're stronger than you think. You'll always be stronger than you think. Feel with your heart and do what you want." -Corey Taylor

Childhood Dreams: Live in Hawai'i

Hobbies: Going to concerts is one of my absolute favorite things to do. Outside of that, travel and thrill seeking by completing bucket list adventures like skydiving in Hawai'i, snowmobiling on a glacier in Iceland, riding a camel in Dubai or scuba diving in Jamaica, etc. Otherwise, I am an avid snowboarder, proud dog mom, enjoy hikes, love the beach and spending time with friends/family. 

Fun Fact: I went to the last Vans Warped Tour 8 days post operative for my second back surgery. It was a rock festival that hosted about 30,000 people on the Atlantic City beach. My neurosurgeon was not pleased with me but it was worth it!

Nomination Quote: "Melissa has been an absolute Allstar in the Touro Community. She organized a number of phenomenal events as the President of ACOS as well as several others including charitable organizations like ORSI. She has always excelled at organizing community events whether it be for charity, education, or fun, but fortunately they are usually all of the above. Bake sales, bowling, surgeon guided dissections, trivia, raising awareness and funds for charity, she has found a way to bring the students of our school together in so many ways. This has been especially important considering how scattered and isolating many of the years of our education has been. Not to mention that she's just an incredibly nice, smart and helpful person. I'm honestly surprised she hasn't gotten SOTM before."

Kimberly Brafi, OMS-I

Hometown: Highland Mills, NY

Life Before Touro: Medical scribe at City MD and a Mentor for Underrepresented minorities 

Favorite Quote: 1st John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

Childhood Dreams: Actress and a WNBA basketball player 

Hobbies: Playing the flute and kickboxing

Fun Fact: I have an Identical Twin sister!

Nomination Quote: "Kim is one of the most incredible people I've ever met. The passion and spirit she brings to the classroom is contagious and inspiring. When beginning my time at Touro, I was nervous to raise my hand an ask questions, daunted by the expectations of medical school and what other students and faculty might perceive as silly. Maybe without realizing it, Kim set an example for the entire class that there is no shame in asking questions and even after an explanation, admitting that you are still confused. It made me open up as a student to participate by both asking questions and contributing answers. My learning experience and hunger for knowledge was immensely heightened by realizing the friendly and supportive environment I was in, thanks to students like Kim. She taught me to make the most out of my education and never sit back when I know I need more assistance. Not only is Kim so determined to succeed, she is determined to help others do the same. A quality I so wrongly did not expect from my peers amidst the medical school admissions process. Each day Kim sits amongst the class helping others understand concepts and work through tough problems. I am so in awe of her undying drive and kindness that this nomination was a no brainer..."

Jennifer Rose, MS

Hometown: I grew up in Las Vegas, NV but moved to South Florida in high school. My family now lives in Lake Worth, FL

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Florida State University in 2018 with a B.S. in Sociology and a minor in Chemistry. During college, I worked in a research lab examining the jaw muscles of Florida Carpenter Ants, which also meant learning how to perform microdissections on ant heads for tissue extractions! I also worked as a Food Service Manager and loved having the opportunity to expand my culinary skills. After college, I traded my chef’s hat for scrubs and worked as a medical scribe for two years in Family Medicine and Cardiology. I also held a managerial role with the scribing company, where I helped train new scribes, in addition to other responsibilities.

Favorite Quote: “Just when we think we figured things out, the universe throws us a curveball. So, we have to improvise. We find happiness in unexpected places. We find ourselves back to the things that matter the most. The universe is funny that way. Sometimes it just has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong.” -Meredith Grey (Grey’s Anatomy)

Childhood Dreams: I always dreamed of becoming a physician. I still remember in Kindergarten we had to dress up a paper doll as what we aspired to become when we grew up, and I dressed mine up as “Future Dr. Jen.” 

Hobbies: I love cooking. I also enjoy staying active in the gym and dancing (mostly ballet).

Fun Fact: I have two middle names.

Nomination Quote: "Jenn is an outstanding student and friend! Even when she is dealing with so much she always finds the time to check in on her friends. She has helped numerous people in her class with difficult physio topics, serving as sort of a pseudo TA. She also always goes to class in person and is an active participant with both the professors and fellow students. She is truly a ray of sunshine and a dedicated student."

February 2022

Giftty Obadan, OMS-II

Hometown: Houston, Texas

Life Before Touro: I am Nigerian by origin. I was born in Houston, Texas and moved to a French speaking West African country called Togo when I was about 2 years old. Soon after, my family moved to the Republic of Benin. I spent most of my childhood in Benin where I learned how to speak French, and moved back to the United States when I was 14 years old. I went to Texas A&M University in College Station where I got my degree in Biomedical Science. After graduation, I worked as medical scribe at the Houston Methodist Hospital Willowbrook during my gap year.

Favorite Quote: "God is within her, she will not fall;God will help her at break of day."- Psalm 46:5

Childhood Dreams: I had a dream of becoming a dancer with the hopes of being a back up dancer for Beyonce! My African mom told me to take the letter D in dancer and change it to D for doctor. I haven’t looked back since then. Studying medicine has been the best thing that has happened to me, and I am so glad to be a part of making people feel better. Unfortunately, my mom passed away when I was 8 years old, she won’t be physically present to see me accomplish my dream, but I really hope that I make her proud.

Hobbies: I love to dance, sing, and I like to make videos occasionally. By the way I have a Youtube channel (but I haven’t been posting recently due to school). My channel name is Golden Ese. 

Fun Fact: I have twin siblings Angel & Angela (a boy & a girl) that are just 2 years old and they are so adorable. They will be turning 3 years old in a couple of days and I’m so excited for them.

Nomination Quote: "Giftty always goes out of her way to help others; I have seen her countless of times helping students in the anatomy lab. She is patient, flexible, assertive and humble. She sacrifices so much of her personal time to put Power Point together for TA review. She is always willing to go over materials and help find ways to enjoy our journey at Touro. She has a great passion for anatomy and does an amazing job at sharing her knowledge.

Furthermore, she is the best mentor one can ask for always a text or a phone call away always ready to help or find the best approach to take moving forward. Giftty possess the many qualities a mentor should have. An enthusiastic and empathetic person, she provided honest feedback and take time to support when necessary. She is truly invested in the success of her mentee and I appreciate having her as a mentor."

James Goldin, OMS-I

Hometown: Monroe NY

Life Before Touro: Colgate University Undergrad, Columbia University Masters in Public Health

Favorite Quote: "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night" The Old Astronomer to His Pupil  -Sarah Williams

Childhood Dreams: To be a pediatrician!

Hobbies: Avid reader, hiking, and trivia 

Fun Fact: I am utterly incapable of whistling

Nomination Quote: "James has SAVED our class many times with technical issues. Whenever the a professor (or student) has a technical issue, James jumps out of his seat and is always willing to help. He stays with the professor until the problem is fixed. With our transition to Zoom/hybrid lectures, there have been many challenges. James has attended every class in person to make sure that our classes are running smoothly. He has helped almost every professor in one way or another- from setting up the clickers, to helping Dr Braun get Zoom to recorded and helping just about every professor with the notorious mic issues. He has been doing this since the fall semester and has really been an asset to everyone during remote learning. We are very thankful for James and his willingness to help with any tech issues. He is ALWAYS willing to help, goes above and beyond to make sure our classes are successful. You will often hear students calling out for "JAMES" whenever their is a technical issue and James always helps with a smile! THANK YOU JAMES FOR ALL OF YOUR HELP and keeping us going during these challenging time!"

Emily Bueti, MS

Hometown: Brewster, New York

Life Before Touro:  I have been in EMS for the past thirteen years, starting when I was sixteen years old. I have been working as a paramedic in both Putnam and Westchester Counties for the past five years up until arriving at TouroCOM. During that time, I also taught and mentored students who were interested in medicine and EMS by guiding them through skill-based training and ride alongs.

Favorite Quote: “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” - Dolly Parton

Childhood Dreams: My mother would say that my earliest childhood dream was to be a purple cow. Though my earliest recollection was to be an orca and dolphin trainer, which lead to my dream as an adult of running an animal shelter.

Hobbies:  I enjoy spending time with my family, my loved ones and my two cats as often as I can. In my free time, I enjoy yoga, hiking, music and reading. My favorite genres are poetry and fantasy.

Fun Fact: I love musical theater and was very involved in local theater during high school and during my undergrad years. My favorite Broadway musical is Hadestown, which I have seen three times.

Nomination Quote: "Emily is always kind and willing to help everyone. She's always full of enthusiasm for everything we do and always has a super positive attitude. She is a true joy and ray of sunshine. We can always count on her to find ways to make us smile and encourage us the best way she can."

January 2022

Santino Patrizi, OMS-III

Hometown: New Hyde Park, NY

Life Before Touro: Before attending Touro, I had gone to SUNY Old Westbury for my undergraduate degree in Biology.  I had taken two gap years where I worked as a medical scribe and at Gino's Pizzeria (best pizza on Long Island) before arriving in Middletown. The rest of my time was spent traveling and hanging out with my friends and family!

Favorite Quote: Believe it - Naruto Uzumaki

Childhood Dreams: To be a mechanic

Hobbies: Bringing old motorcycles back to life and traveling

Fun Fact: I've traveled to 10 countries!

Nomination Quote: "You cant go wrong choosing Santino for student of the month. Former President of ortho club and VP of SSP, [he] is out there saving lives everyday with the ambition of becoming the best ER doc..."

Simal Ali, OMS-II

Hometown: Horsham, PA aka “just outside of Philly” 

Life Before Touro: Ahh life before med school, a time when I actually knew what the sun looked like…okay just kidding!!! 

Before Touro, I attended Drexel University as a Bio major where I also worked as a clinical research assistant at the Weight, Eating, and Lifestyle Science Center (WELL).  I did my co-op in the Neurosurgery Clinical Research Department at Penn Medicine and also worked as a medical scribe in a hematology/oncology office. I also always tried to stay involved with my local mosque whether it was as a student or youth group advisor. 

Favorite Quote: “Most people live their life looking forward to Friday because it means the workweek is over. We spend most of our lives at work, so do something you love and make your life so you look forward to your Mondays” - Dad  

Childhood Dreams: By the grace of God, living the dream :) 

Hobbies: I love getting some sun, being in nature, eating dessert (my fav meal), painting, and podcasts like The Genius Life, As a Woman, and Yaqeen Institute. 

Fun Fact: In college, I took entrepreneurship classes to develop a medical hijab for patients and providers who wear one to wear in the OR and clinic. It had hooks for masks and ear slits for stethoscope access! 

Nomination Quote: "Simal is such a passionate advocate of lifestyle medicine. She is an outstanding leader for our new LMIG and has worked so hard to establish a brand new club that we have been recognized by the national American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) - our national parent organization as an outstanding new chapter. She is a pioneer in establishing a club with new structure that allows all our student leaders to follow their unique passions in lifestyle medicine and I truly believe she will make a difference at our school and in our local community."

Rachel Madore, OMS-I

Hometown: Milford, CT

Life Before Touro: I attended St. Lawrence University and graduated with dual degrees in Biology and English Literature. After graduation, I took a few gap years to try and figure my life out! I did research at Yale constructing a novel artificial heart device for a non-invasive surgical procedure for aortic dissections. I was also a research assistant for a retrospective chart review studying determinants of preeclampsia in pregnant patients. After that I became a Histological Technician (whoohoo histo!!) for Yale Surgical Dermatology where I cut and stained tissue sections from Mohs surgeries. I even worked as a bartender and sales associate for Banana Republic to supplement my income and pay for my med school applications!  

Favorite Quote:  "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if only one remembers to turn on the light." - Albus Dumbledore  

Childhood Dreams: What I really wanted was my Hogwarts letter but that never came :( so I dreamt of being a doctor one day instead and here I am!  

Hobbies: In my free time I love to go on hikes and walks with my dog (Herbert is the love of my life), hang out with friends and family, religiously watch Law and Order SVU, and try to solve cold (unsolved) true crime cases!

Fun Fact: I was a competitive swimmer for 12 years and then throughout college, as well as a ballet dancer for 10 years! Don't ask me to go on a run though, it's not gonna happen.  

Nomination Quote: "Rachel is an inspirational student to work and learn beside. Her warmth and charisma reach far beyond just the OMS - I class. She is a mentor for both MedAchieve and AMWA, as well as a volunteer for the Warming Station. Her determination and passion for social justice drive her work ethic and will be the key pillars of her career as a patient-centered physician. She is involved in research on campus which focuses on women’s health and is a proponent for inclusion and diversity - most importantly she puts these values into practice during each interaction with professors, colleagues, and peers. I know my medical journey thus far would not be filled with the same amount of laughs if it weren’t for her friendship (and her adorable puppy Herbert, who is basically the therapy dog for Touro COM)!"

Hannah Forman, MS

Hometown: Washington, DC

Life Before Touro: I graduated Skidmore college in 2019 with a degree in Chemistry and a minor in anthropology. Soon after graduation I moved to San Diego to work in neuroscience research at the Salk Institute.

Favorite Quote: "If you will it, it is no dream" - Theordor Herzl

Childhood Dreams: Before deciding to go into medicine I wanted to work in physics and work at NASA like my grandfather. After getting to college I realized was not nearly as good as physics as I thought I could be and that I didn’t enjoy it, but I still wanted to be in the field of science. I switched to studying biochemistry and became an EMT and both these things made me realize I wanted to go into medicine.

Hobbies: Hiking, climbing, and listening to audiobooks.

Fun Fact: My middle name comes from a movie from the 90s.

Nomination Quote: "Hannah is one of the most hardworking people I know. You can always find her in the library for some quiet studying together, and she is always happy to talk through confusions with you."

December 2021

Nicholas Lupano, OMS-III

Hometown: Waldwick, NJ

Life Before Touro: As an undergraduate at VCU, I majored in biomedical engineering with a minor in chemistry. I chose the road less traveled with engineering because I felt understanding medical equipment and the human body on a technical level would provide me with a unique perspective most medical students had not considered. In turn, I am able to take this perspective with me into the field, hopefully leading to noteworthy care for the patients I will serve. Following graduation, I worked in an ER in Newark, NJ. I was hired as a medical scribe, and also built databases for the research department's data collection. My time in Newark provided me the opportunity to work with very diverse populations. I gained firsthand experience with how the healthcare industry handles underserved communities, inspiring me to be part of the next generation of doctors tending to these patients. While working, I applied to medical schools until I was invited into the Master's Program at Touro, an opportunity which I accepted most contentedly.

Favorite Quote: "Do. Or do not. There is no try"

Childhood Dreams: My passion for the medical field dates further back than I can even remember. Growing up, I always felt my purpose on this earth was to help others by becoming a doctor. It felt, and still feels, as though it was my duty to do so. My calling. While other children asked Santa for toys and bicycles and candy, I asked for an anatomy textbook so I could study the human body. I found the efficiency of the body absolutely fascinating in comparison to man-made objects like cars and machinery. My interests only strengthened over the years, leading me to pursue my biomedical engineering degree.

Hobbies: I enjoy working on projects with my family, such as building/renovating multiple areas of our house and on our property. During my free time I also engage in creative writing and spend time with friends. Often, I try to partake in activities that I believe will help me improve different skills to become a more well-rounded person.

Fun Fact: One time a fellow student and I beatboxed in front of our histology class. Our performance was almost as entertaining as the lecture that followed!

Nomination Quote:

Jonah Duran, OMS-II

Hometown:  Sandusky, MI

Life Before Touro: I received my BS from Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids, MI where I majored in Biomedical Sciences and minored in Chemistry. I then received my MS from Case Western Reserve University in Applied Anatomy. Afterwards, I did a service year through AmeriCorps in Cleveland, OH where I provided support to high school students. 

Favorite Quote: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” -Henry Ford

Childhood Dreams: To either be a professional hockey player or mailman like my father.

Hobbies:  Hockey, football, and golf

Fun Fact: I met ice hockey Hall of Famer, Gordie Howe, and I am mentioned in his book called, “Mr. Hockey” for cutting the ribbon to the grand opening of the ice hockey rink in my hometown. His wife, Colleen J. Howe, was from my hometown so the rink is named in tribute to her.

Nomination Quote: 

Tegan Gallina, MS

Hometown:  I grew up near Ann Arbor, MI, but moved for high school and have been in Brooklyn ever since. 

Life Before Touro: I graduated from Brooklyn College in 2020 with a BS in Biology. Throughout my undergrad, I worked in the food industry for a few years before spending 3 years working as a senior scribe in urgent care. I had the honor of working with many great providers, including one who graduated from this Master's program in its early years and pushed me to apply here. 

Favorite Quote: "Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve." -Ginny Weasley 

Childhood Dreams: Before medicine, I wanted to go into environmental research! I worked in a lab at Columbia's LDEO campus from my sophomore year of high school until mid-freshman year of undergrad studying phytoplankton and carbon cycling. I left when I realized that while I loved the work, I was talking to my cultures in the lab, and went off in search of an equally interesting discipline where I would be able to have conversations with actual people. 

Hobbies:  I have played the trumpet since I was 9, and most recently played in a community concert band in Brooklyn. I also really love cooking. 

Fun Fact: I'm really terrible at ball sports, so instead over the years I picked up fencing, inline speed skating, rock climbing, and lion dance. 

Nomination Quote: 

November 2021

Christian Rafla, OMS-III

Hometown:  Newport, CA

Life Before Touro: I attended Claremont McKenna College in Los Angeles, where I pursued a degree in Financial Economics. At the time, my career ambitions were set for Wall Street as an investment banker and/or being a financial engineer for a Fortune 500 company. It wasn’t until my senior year that I decided my true calling was in the hospital, and I wanted to help make a difference in the world instead of wasting my life away behind an office desk. I enrolled in a post-baccalaureate program at the University of Pennsylvania to finish up pre-med courses with my current roommate (Harrison Rhee @djmistrhee)…and the rest is history!

Childhood Dreams: An international supermodel - it’s a work in progress.

Hobbies:  Beach Volleyball, surfing, and fishing

Fun Fact: I was regionally ranked in Settlers of Catan.

Nomination Quote: " incredibly humble...and is the best candidate for this honor and I'm sure he would appreciate the recognition for all of his hard work."

Herisha Shah, OMS-II

Hometown:  Parsippany, NJ 

Life Before Touro: I went to Rutgers University-New Brunswick for Undergrad where I majored in Biological Sciences and Exercise Physiology, and minored in Nutrition. On campus, I volunteered at an elementary school and tutored children from underprivileged neighborhoods, worked at a recreation center and as a writing tutor, and served as the president of Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA). This organization allowed me to compete in international competitions where I won first place twice, in Medical Terminology and in HOSA Bowl. A few months after graduating from Rutgers, I continued my education in the Masters program here at TouroCOM. 

Favorite Quote: "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." – Mahatma Gandhi 

Childhood Dreams:  When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an ice-cream truck lady so I could eat all the ice-cream for free. My dreams were shattered when I realized I would have to pay for the ice-cream and there was no employee discount. Then on, since I was in 5th grade, I have always wanted to be a doctor. 

Hobbies:  I love dancing! I have been dancing since I was in kindergarten, and I trained for 13 years in Kathak (classical Indian dance form). I enjoy doing other styles as well (I’m always down for Zumba or Salsa). I also love hiking, working out at the gym, and playing field hockey, along with baking, doing puzzles, and watching movies.

Fun Fact: In high school, I broke the record for doing the most push-ups out of all the girls in my school. I did 54 push-ups! 

Nomination Quote: "Herisha organized the rotations panel for 2nd year students and helped organize the Warming Station holiday decoration. She did a phenomenal job with both initiatives that benefit Touro students and the Middletown community."

Imanni Welcome-Laing, OMS-I

Hometown:  I am of Jamaican and Guyanese descent and from Fort Lauderdale Florida. 

Life Before Touro: Before starting at Touro, I medically volunteered both locally and internationally for several years while also working as a Medical Scribe.  

Favorite Quote: One of my favorite quotes is taken from Romans 8:28 which states, "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them."  

Childhood Dreams:  Growing up, I dreamt of becoming a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Sparks prior to falling in love with medicine.  

Hobbies:  I enjoy traveling and exploring different countries with both my family and friends. I've had the opportunity to visit eighteen countries. I also enjoy cooking, dancing and playing basketball. 

Fun Fact: One thing off of my bucket list that I would like to accomplish is to travel to Antarctica next year.  

Nomination Quote: "I believe Imani should receive student of the month because she is a kind soul. She makes each and every student feel like they are family by embracing them with hugs and smiles. She is currently speaking on behalf of student’s mental health. She is working with Ms. Lenora in figuring out different activities and outlets for students to improve the mental health of our student body. I believe she should receive the student of the month award because she had helped many students during their hardest time in this semester by offering support and quality time."

 "She’s always positive and one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met!"

 "She is a very kind person and I always see her making sure that everyone is doing okay. She really lights up my day!"

Shaikh Wahid, MS

Hometown:  Queens, NY/Montgomery, AL 

Life Before Touro: I graduated with a biology major, along with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in 2014. After completing my undergraduate studies, I decided to pursue a Master’s in Biotechnology. Along with keeping up with graduate school courses, I worked as a student researcher for Parkinson’s Disease at UAB’s Neurology Department. I also tutored part-time math and science subjects at the Birmingham Tutoring Club for high risk inner city students. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, I started volunteering as a medical assistant at an urgent/family care clinic in order to help the community, while continuing working as a teaching assistant, a lab facilitator, and a research leader for the Biotechnology Covid-19 project at UAB Biotechnology Master’s Program.  

Favorite Quote: “Accept the things you cannot change. Have the courage to change the things you can. And, have the wisdom to know the difference.”- Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox  

Childhood Dreams:  I always wanted to make a difference in other people’s lives. It is why I am here today.

Hobbies:  I love to spend time with my friends and family. I enjoy playing billiards. I love anything fitness related and my favorite sport is basketball (#MambaForever).  Cooking is a hobby I started very recently that the pandemic forced me to rely on and it is truly one of my most favorite activities now. I love music too! Anything I do will usually have something playing in the background. I am also a comic book nerd; I prefer DC over Marvel :) 

Fun Fact: I am a dad of two adorable cats, one of which I named MCAT. 

Nomination Quote: "Each time I see him in the hallways of the library he always is smiling and is so friendly to everyone in the class. He’s always offering to help, and that is something that I appreciate in this tough program."

October 2021

Angela Ho, OMS-III

Hometown:  Los Angeles, CA

Life Before Touro: I was born and raised in southern California and completed my B.S. in Human Biology at the University of California, Irvine. Following graduation, I took 2 gaps years where I worked as a clinical research coordinator at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, lived in Vietnam to teach English and work on a medical mission. I also worked as a caregiver for geriatric patients and provided respite care for hospice patients. Aside from medical-related activities, I took some time to explore the world and feed my travel bug.  

Favorite Quote: "If you need something to believe in, start with yourself."

Childhood Dreams: To be a queen and rule my own kingdom.

Hobbies:  hiking, painting, spa and anything that gets my adrenaline pumping.  

Fun Fact: I started an initiative called Diversity In Medicine in hopes of sharing our struggles so that it can be a part of someone else’s survival guide.  

Nomination Quote: "Angela Ho has been an advocate and an example for first generation students interested in medicine. She has been a presence in the online community that continues to inspire others to pursue their path in medicine. She is very easy to talk to and is very responsive despite her busy schedule."

Andrew Bertollo, OMS-II

Hometown:  Kinnelon, NJ

Life Before Touro: I completed my undergrad at Rutgers while working in EMS and primary care community health programs in multiple hospital systems around New Jersey. 

Favorite Quote: “Success is not measured by titles, money, or fame...but rather by the people whose lives you change.” 

Childhood Dreams: I’ve always wanted to build a log cabin by hand…preferably in Alaska. It’s still one of my bucket list dreams so I’ll make it happen someday!

Hobbies:  Cycling, camping, hiking, and woodworking

Fun Fact: I have ten siblings and used to live with eight of them in the same house…needless to say, it was a bit crowded and there was certainly never a dull moment. 

Nomination Quote: "Andrew has been an amazing TA in both Physio and OMM not only working with first years in group TA reviews, but dedicating significant time to working with students individually and in small groups to aid our understanding of the material. He is incredibly patient and thorough in his explanations, even when balancing his own academics. Thank you Andrew!!"

Benjamin Rourke, OMS-I

Hometown:  Lansing, NY

Life Before Touro: I graduated from SUNY Cortland in 2018 with a B.S. in Exercise Science. I played football there, until injuries made me realize that I was better off playing volleyball. My senior year, I led our team to the national tournament as the president, which was an unforgettable experience. I spent a few years working on an inpatient surgical floor, then transitioned to an outpatient Primary Care/Internal Medicine practice. I began counseling for a crisis line in undergraduate school and have been volunteering for them since. I briefly lived in Guatemala, served with a PCP in various geriatric clinics, and also delved into a sea turtle conservation project for some time. Additionally, I’ve worked for the NYSDOH as a Contact Tracer up until this past September. It’s been a wild ride to get here, and I don’t anticipate letting up anytime soon. 

Favorite Quote: “Try harder!” -my mother 

Childhood Dreams: Growing up, I always thought I was going to be a professional athlete, but once reality took hold and I learned the game of numbers, my dream transitioned to marine biology. I was fascinated by marine life and still am today, especially the potentially new therapeutics that the sea has to offer. 

Hobbies:  I’m an exercise fanatic, so you can catch me at the YMCA. I enjoy water sports, hiking and fishing during the summer, and snowboarding during the winter. I look forward to traveling to beach towns with my girlfriend, so we can indulge in our favorite cuisine- seafood. Our destination next month is one of our favorites- Delray Beach. 

Fun Fact: I did a PBSC donation this past July through Be The Match. I swabbed for this registry over 7 years ago, and it was a 1 in 30 million chance of matching. My donation went to a young man with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and could potentially save his life. 

Nomination Quote: "Goes out of his way to help out his community. Always friendly."

Desiree Raymond, MS

Hometown:  Chicago, IL

Life Before Touro: Before Touro, I received my Bachelors of Science in Health Science with a Public Health Concentration from THE Spelman College, the #1 HBCU, in 2019. While at Spelman, I had the opportunity to conduct and publish research while also working as a Scribe in the ER. After matriculation, I earned my Masters in Medical Science at Hampton University where I first learned about osteopathic medicine and was able to shadow a D.O, who then turned my attention to Touro (: 

Favorite Quote: "Waterfalls wouldn't sound so melodious if rocks weren't in the way."


"Purpose is an essential element of you. it is the reason you are on this planet at this particular time in history. your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill." - Chadwick Boseman 

Childhood Dreams: Amazingly, I'm manifesting my childhood dreams of becoming a doctor. I've tried doing other things but nothing sparks my inner child more than knowing one day I'll be Dr. Raymond. 

Hobbies:  I'm vegan so I love love loveeeee trying new vegan dishes. Like food makes my soul smile. I also enjoy travelling internationally, graphic design, playing my flute, reading, and running (never in a million years did I think I would be saying this) 

Fun Fact: I'm Haitian but I don't know how to cook rice 😅 

Nomination Quote: "She has shown great leadership abilities."

September 2021

Hemaxi Desai, OMS-IV

Hometown:  Moorpark, CA

Life Before Touro: I’m originally from southern California and went to UC Berkeley for a bachelor’s in Integrative Biology. I was involved with nonprofits that aimed to improve health education and access, and it fueled my passion for medicine. After getting my master’s in Biomedical Sciences, I moved to NY for medical school. I’ve always loved teaching and worked as a tutor throughout college, and I love that I get to incorporate that every day into patient care! 

Favorite Quote: "Everyone on Earth is carrying around an unseen history, and that alone deserves some tolerance." -Michelle Obama 

Childhood Dreams: To be a teacher...and be able to teleport.

Hobbies:  Pilates, baking, watching Friends and Gilmore Girls (over and over) 

Fun Fact: I love to skydive in new places when I travel!

Nomination Quote: "She has always gone out of her way to help others whether it be her peers or patients more than any other student I have seen. As medical student liaison at GHMC this past year, she always made sure that students felt heard and were getting the most optimal education during clinical years as well as preclinical years as a TA to immunology and OMM." 

Jolie Brustein Cotler, OMS-II

Hometown:  Sloatsburg, NY

Life Before Touro: Before Touro I attended SUNY Oswego where I studied biology and health science. I was an EMT and conducted a small research study in diabetes treatment for my Honors Thesis. Following graduation, I came to Touro for the Masters program, after which I took a gap year and tutored students at SUNY Orange Community College in Middletown, NY. It was there that I fell in love with teaching, and now, as a second year, I am a Teaching Assistant for three classes! 

Favorite Quote: 

"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." - Bertrand Russell

Childhood Dreams: As a child, I wanted to do whatever was right in front of me! My goals jumped from a pet groomer, to a veterinarian, to a social worker, and finally a physician!

Hobbies:  I have always been a dancer and I still love to dance for fun. I also love podcasts and puzzles (in my limited free time)!

Fun Fact: I can solve a Rubik's Cube in under 2 minutes!

Nomination Quote: "... [Jolie] is doing everything that she can to use her knowledge to help other students succeed during their time at Touro. She has gone above and beyond in her newfound role as a a TA in Anatomy by meeting with students over zoom, over the phone, in Z space, or in any other way that she can...

Beyond that, Jolie also worked tirelessly to hand match so many of the OMS-I and Master’s students to their mentors. She put so much time and effort into matching individuals with the hopes that the mentoring program would allow for individuals feel connect to the community at Touro...

Jolie ...has done so much to help students within the LGBTQIA+ community feel not only welcomed, but has allowed them to begin to recognize that they are crucial members of the community at TouroCOM and that they have a safe space to be their true selves as they pursue their passions for medicine....she was so excited to get to talk to first years during their orientation about pronouns. This served as a major jumping off points for many students to learn about being an open and accepting physician and community member, and it was the first time that a talk like this was ever given to incoming students during orientation!.."

Mohammad Farooq, OMS-I

Hometown:  Bensalem, PA 

Life Before Touro: Before Touro, I spent 6 years in West Chester, PA studying at West Chester University. I earned my Biology degree with a minor in Political Science in 2017, and then my Masters In Public Health in 2019. I’ve worked various jobs in health care, from a pharmacy tech, a hospice consultant, and a scribe, but always knew that becoming a doctor was my true calling. After completing the MS program here at TouroCOM, I happily matriculated into the DO program. I’m very thankful to be here! 

Favorite Quote: 

“Bran thought about it, ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ 

Childhood Dreams: To be the number 1 Pokémon master.

Hobbies:  I absolutely love cooking. I believe it’s the perfect hobby that shows you how small, little, incremental improvements make a difference over time. It also allows me to flex my creative juices, especially when I’m taking a study break. Plus, who doesn’t like food? 

Fun Fact: I was a competitive martial artist from 12-20, and earned my second degree black belt in Tang Soo Do at the age of 17.

Nomination Quote: "He has gone above and beyond to make sure that their classmates accommodated the best they could to their new lives as med students. He always answers questions with a smile and sacrifices free time to help others. He was on top of his responsibilities as class rep for anatomy and made sure there was no stone left unturned as far as exam info we needed and requests/questions from fellow students." 

Jacob Sonnenklar, MS

Hometown:  Roslyn Heights, NY 

Life Before Touro: I graduated undergrad at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA majoring in Music within a Pre-Med track. After graduating, I worked as a Medical Scribe at ScribeAmerica in Internal Medicine.

Favorite Quote: 

"Do or do not, there is no try"- Yoda

Childhood Dreams: To one day become a pediatrician.

Hobbies:  Playing classical/jazz/pop/rock piano, watching sports.

Fun Fact: I once was asked by a concert master to play piano with his blues band on a cruise ship.  A pianist from the dueling pianos show on the ship was in the audience and asked me to play in his show with him the following night. 

Nomination Quote: "Always polite, always reminds everyone when quizzes are due, when we are off for classes, etc... Very nice person, love to have him around." 

"Jacob is always providing resources whether it be videos, mnemonics, pics, etc that are beneficial to our classes. He's always sending encouraging or motivational messages to keep everyone in our class going!"

"He is always sharing resources and motivating our class!"

"His good morning text and almost daily reminders really help the class out! Always send out resources and lending a hand to class documents and sharing."

April 2021

Chidumebi Nwokolo, OMS-IV

Hometown:  Lagos, Nigeria

Life Before Touro: Before Touro, I got my Bachelors degree in Biomedical Engineering, worked for a year as an ED scribe then went on to get my MPH with a concentration in community health and development.  The journey helped concentrate my passion for health equity and led me here where I have met some of the most amazing people!

Favorite Quote: 

What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.

Childhood Dreams: I remember desperately wanting to be a Powerpuff girl.

Hobbies:  Puzzles, Fiction reading, Prose writing, Bargain shopping, Karaoke, Cooking and Eating (especially brunch!)

Fun Fact: A group of porcupines is called a prickle and I think that is just so cute.

Nomination Quote: "she has worked tirelessly with organizing this year's Match Day, graduation, and for helping her fellow students through the SOAP and scramble. She has advocated for her fellow students, speaking on our behalf to the Dean's and Provost in order to obtain a graduation gift. She has also been working extensively to create SOAP & scramble guides so that following years will have the advising necessary to meet these challenges. While she did not act alone in these endeavors, and the work of her fellow students both here at Middletown and Harlem has been extensive, I think that her breadth of participation makes her shine above and beyond the rest."

Brenten Marshall, OMS-III

Hometown: Stuart, Florida 

Life Before Touro: Before Touro I lived in South Florida with my beautiful wife, Sam, and our Golden Retriever, Luna. I worked as an engineer for a lightning protection contractor and was lucky enough to work in an office that allowed dog visits for lunch. I had always assumed that I would want to move back to Florida after medical school but unlike almost everyone in NY, I've really enjoyed snow!

Favorite Quote:  

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take - Wayne Gretzky" - Michael Scott

Childhood Dreams: Live in NYC as a veterinarian


Hobbies: Hiking, reading history books, holding my wife's shopping bags at the mall

Fun Fact: For one of my undergraduate engineering courses, I built a baseball pitching machine and accidentally launched a baseball into a university employee's office while demonstrating it.

Nomination Quote: "Brenten is one of the most selfless and humble students in our class. He takes the time to help everyone in our subgroup and other groups as much as he possibly could. He has great work ethics, and I learn a lot from his interactions with physicians, residents, and patients. He is always willing to carry the load of work and he does it well with a good spirit. Working with him in rotations is always an absolute pleasure."

Ubaidat Abdul-Rahman, OMS-II

Hometown: Clifton Park, New York


Life before Touro: I was born in Accra, Ghana. I am the eldest of five siblings. I came to the United States at the age of 4. My family and I lived in Maryland for a couple of years, then moved to Clifton Park, NY. I went to SUNY Albany where I completed my  BS in biology and a minor in psychology and neuroscience. I was a phlebotomist for a year and conducted breast cancer research at GEN*NY*SIS center for Excellence in Cancer Genomics until I was accepted to TOURO’s Master’s program in 2019.


Favorite Quote: 

The world you desire can be won. It exists... it is is’s yours.”  

- Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.


“It is what it is.”


Childhood dreams: Honestly, I wanted to be everything from an astronaut to a forensic scientist, but throughout my childhood being a doctor was always my dream.


Hobbies: I love to read, go on hikes and bake.


Fun Fact: When I was on the plane coming to the US the flight attendant gave me the small butter packets, I didn’t know what it was back then, so I ate it thinking it was candy.

Nomination Quote: "She is a kind, dedicated person and is always willing to hear out and help others!

Brittany Zaita, OMS-I

Hometown: Howard Beach, NY/ Mahwah, NJ


Life Before Touro: I graduated from Fordham University with a degree in neuroscience and minor in philosophy (Go Rams!). I worked in clinical neuroscience research providing interventional therapies to children with unilateral cerebral palsy. The feeling of seeing two young girls that I helped to reach goals such as eating and brushing their hair with their affected limb reminded me of why I wanted to become a physician. I also worked as a medical assistant in a pediatric office where the kids liked me much less since I was the one doing their finger stick.  


Favorite Quote: “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” - Rumi 

“So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit - It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.” - John Greenleaf Whitter


Childhood Dreams: I was a very practical child and I wanted to be a lawyer! 


Hobbies: Anything art related, spending time with my family, exercise, cooking, baking, traveling.


Fun Fact: My favorite study buddy is my Pomeranian husky named Atlas!

Nomination Quote: 

"Brittany continues to strive for excellence, but is also dedicated to helping and empowering her classmates to do their best. She has maintained a positive attitude through the difficult exam schedule...I am thankful to have her as a classmate and a friend."

"Brittany is one of the most helpful and supportive classmates I’ve ever had. She works harder than most other people and always puts others needs ahead of her own. She helps other students study by running through review questions and working through problem areas with them. She always has a smile on her face and is more than willing to sit down to make sure her fellow classmates are doing okay. She continues to work hard every single days and inspires the rest of us to improve our own work habits." 

"Brittany is one of the most hard working and ambitious people I know - she is kind and always willing to help others."

"Brittany is always excited to super her fellow classmates. Whether it's being encouraging in OMM or PD lab or trying to help make study guides, Britt is always putting her best foot forward to support the people around her..."

Aaminah Jamal, MS

Hometown: Washingtonville, NY/ New City, NY 


Life Before Touro: I graduated from Binghamton University in 2018 with a BA in Linguistics. I grew up bilingual at home, speaking both Urdu and English, so I was really interested in studying the origins and the different aspects of language. After graduation, I worked as an ER scribe here in Middletown at Garnet Health, and then began outpatient work as well. I also work at a summer day camp for pediatric oncology patients in the New York Metropolitan Area, as the Wellness Coordinator, and just recently got promoted to be the Director of Health and Safety for this upcoming summer! 


Favorite Quote: “Know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and hardship with ease.” 


Childhood Dreams: When I was around 4, someone gifted me a book about Archaeology so I went around telling everyone I was going to become an “anesthesiologist,” instead of an “archaeologist.”


Hobbies: Spinning! One of my favorite ways of letting go of stress and getting in a

solid workout. My goal is to become a certified spin instructor one day. I love

learning new languages, and am currently attempting to teach myself Albanian. I also enjoy reading in my spare time, and playing tennis. 


Fun Fact: Pandas are my spirit animals.

Nomination Quote: "Aaminah has been so helpful and encouraging as a class rep. She goes above and beyond to make sure everyone understands what’s going on and what’s due. And she’s constantly showing how much she genuinely cares for everyone."

March 2021

Shreya Prashar, OMS-IV