Meet the 2021–2023 HEAL Fellows
Welcoming the 7th cohort of international leaders in health equity to the HEAL Initiative
Each July, the HEAL Initiative welcomes a cohort of fellows into our growing community of now over 170 healthcare workers worldwide. This year’s cohort has 22 fellows from North America, Central America and Africa. Together, they will spend the next 2-years building their leadership and advocacy skills through HEAL’s intensive curriculum and immersive trainings, building their capacity to address some of the most urgent issues in global health.
The cohort includes seven domestic site fellows that are from farm worker communities in Central California or are Indigenous People working in health centers across Navajo Nation. Seven international site fellows that serve rural communities in Rwanda, Malawi, Uganda, Mali and Mexico bring their expertise to the community. Eight rotating fellows who are U.S. trained physicians also join and will work alongside site fellows at our partner sites throughout Navajo Nation, and internationally.
Scroll through the cards below to learn more about the fellows, and click for their bios. Be sure to follow our publication Voices From the Frontline to hear more of their stories in the coming weeks!
Angelique C. Karambizi has been a clinician for 15 years and has always dreamt of being a pediatrician since her childhood. She grew up in Rwanda, and went to medical school and did her residency in pediatrics at the University of Rwanda. Thereafter, she had worked in a teaching hospital, where she mainly focused on clinical care delivery in the pediatric emergency and critical care departments, quality improvement projects, clinical teaching and research and guideline development.
Angelique believes that the closer you are to the community, the more you understand the challenges and have the opportunity to deliver early treatment and advocate for the most vulnerable people. Read More.
Anne Erickson grew up in Oakland, CA as the daughter of a teacher and a social worker. Her interests in rural and global medicine started in high school, when she spent two summers volunteering in Honduras and Panama with the nonprofit group Amigos de las Americas. She went on to take a gap year prior to college to work on public health studies in India, Mexico, and Brazil, further solidifying her interest in international medicine and especially in women’s health.
She got her B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University. After college, she completed a Fulbright Scholarship in Mozambique, during which she studied the barriers to providing high-quality surgical care at district-level hospitals. Read More.
Bronwyn Smith grew up on the Navajo reservation in a small community called Lechee near Page, AZ. Her clans are Tl’izi lani (Manygoats clan), born for Tábąąhá (Water’s Edge clan), her maternal grandfather is Biih Bitoodnii (Deer Spring clan) and her paternal grandfather is Kiyaa’áanii (Towering House clan). Bronwyn earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree at Roseman University of Health Sciences in 2017 and went on to complete a PGY-1 pharmacy residency with Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation (TCRHCC) in Tuba City, Arizona. Prior to receiving her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree in Biomedical Engineering at Arizona State University in 2013. Read More.
Brown David Khongo was born and grew up in Usisya, Nkhatabay District of Northern Malawi. He enrolled at University of Malawi, College of Medicine in December 2011 where he successfully graduated with Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) in May 2016.
Currently he is working and growing with Partners in Health/Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo (PIH Malawi) as a Secondary Healthcare Manager with primary focus on provision of comprehensive and high quality healthcare services at two hospitals in the district. Brown is passionate about serving the underprivileged/marginalized and advocating for social justice and health equity. He enjoys football and gym. Brown is a Site Fellow at Abwenzi Pa Za Umoyo. Read More.
Bruno Raúl Vargas García was born in the megalopolis that is today’s Mexico City, from a young age his family migrated to the state of Puebla, where he grew up in a modest town which name is as hard to pronounce as it is to find. He continued his education in a private school in the city of Puebla where he was unsettled by the inequality he saw between these two contexts. Once he terminated high school he worked in the USA as kitchen staff for half a year, and then started Med school in Mexico City. Where he rotated through various hospitals, witnessing the lack of social services that is given to those who are in a socioeconomic disadvantage. He then made his social service in Compañeros en Salud, where he discovers a new and completely distinctive approach to health that gave him the answer to so many unsettling things that saw through his life. Read More.
Calandra Ahasteen is an enrolled member of the Navajo tribe. She was raised and lives on the Navajo Reservation. Calandra also spent many summers and weekends with her grandparents in Tolani Lake, AZ. She received an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from University of New Mexico- Gallup and pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from University of New Mexico. Ms. Ahasteen has experience in Geriatric Nursing, Emergency Nursing, Diabetes Education and as Project Director for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) grant. Her present role is Performance Improvement Nurse and Planning Chief of the Covid-19 Incident Command System at Tohatchi Health Center with the Gallup Service Unit. Read More.
Chelsea Kettering is a member of the Navajo (Dine) tribe (Deeshchii’nii, Tachii’nii, Kinyaani, To’aheedliinii). Her educational achievements include Bachelor’s degrees in Music Vocal Performance and Psychology; a Masters degree in Public Health with an emphasis in Social and Behavioral Sciences; and a Doctorate in Public Health with an Epidemiology specialization.
Her dissertation focused on improving glucose screening rates for Native American postpartum mothers with gestational diabetes. Throughout her educational and professional journey, Chelsea has contributed to multiple taskforces with extensive focus in community health organizations, schools, hospitals, and tribal/state programs. Read More.
Christina Knight was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala and was adopted by her parents who are from Canton, Ohio which is where she grew up. Christina attended The Ohio State University for undergraduate studies and for medical school. She then completed her Internal Medicine/Pediatrics residency at Indiana University School of Medicine. Her passion for health equity and global health work was sparked from service trips to her home country of Guatemala.
She has completed medical work in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Kenya. Her interests include global health education and providing culturally competent care to adults and children anywhere in the world. Read More.
Dalia De la Cruz was born in the central coast of California in large farm working community. As the daughter of Mexican farm working immigrants, she set out from an early age to seek out a vocation that emphasized service to others. Upon completing high school she started working as a Certified Nursing Assistant and quickly found a passion for improving the health of others, especially the farm working community in which came from.
She pursued additional education, and obtained her LVN in 2009. She has worked at Natividad Hospital for 13 years, first as a CNA and for that last 12 years as an LVN in a primary care clinic, at Natividad Medical Group. She enjoys all aspects of her job, but finds most joy educating patients about their health and how to improve it. Read More.
Doris Altúzar was born and raised in different places of Chiapas, Mexico. She studied medicine at the Universidad Autónoma de Chiapas in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Since she was a medical student, she developed interest in working in rural communities of her state, which is why she did her year of social service with Compañeros en Salud in El Matasano, a community in the Sierra Madre of Chiapas.
During that year, she realized that what she wanted to do with the rest of her life was dedicate herself to serving vulnerable populations. At the end of her year of social service in 2020, she returned as a COVID-19 response volunteer to Compañeros en Salud and then she worked providing care to patients with COVID-19. Read More.
Emmanuel Saye Miller was born in LAMCO, Yekepa, Nimba County. He is a registered nurse (RN), with an Associate degree from The Stella Maris Polythenic 2006. Emmanuel presently works as a quality assurance officer with Last Mile Health in Grand Bassa County along with the county health team. He supervises community health services supervisors (CHSS) who also cascade supervisory technique to community health assistants (CHA) in the remote communities of Liberia.
Emmanuel’s main advocacy is bringing equity in health by balancing health needs between the underserved and those who have access. This has been achieved through partner shipping with the government of Liberia through the National Community Health Assistant program (NCHAP). Read More.
Emmanuel Bua is a registrar in surgery at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital in eastern Uganda and an honorary lecturer in Surgery at Busitema University. Inspired by his mother, a nurse and midwife, he completed his medical school and residency in Mulago hospital under Makerere University in Kampala. He is a board certified member of the college of surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa.
Over the years of his practice he has learnt that illness and health are intricately intertwined with socioeconomic conditions. He therefore believes in advocacy for healthcare that goes beyond just offering medical care. This, he believes is possible through addressing systemic factors that contribute to illness and access to health. Read More.
Esperanza C. Sanchez was born in Peru. Her mother is a South American Native, Quechua speaking and her late father was a mestizo. She grew up seeing the disparity between the natives and non natives in Peru. She was exposed to the needs of the community by her mother who was a nurse in Lima, Peru.
Since little, she wanted to become a doctor to take care of her people. During the terrorism in Peru, her entire family left Peru and moved to the USA in search of the American dream. Her dream of becoming a doctor became a reality when she was accepted to Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 1996. She graduated medical school in May 2000 and started an Emergency Medicine Residency in New York Medical College Metropolitan Hospital in 2000. Read More.
Kate Bergen grew up outside of Atlanta, GA. Prior to college, she spent time living and working in Costa Rica in various capacities including projects with Habitat for Humanity. She obtained her undergraduate degree in political science at Armstrong Atlantic State University, followed by a masters in international affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She initially worked in the human rights field after college and spent time lobbying with Amnesty International and working with Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
She then decided to pursue a medical degree from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She recently completed her residency in family medicine at Brown. Read More.
Kaylah Ibidapo is originally from Atlanta, GA. She received her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine in 2018 and continued on to complete her community general Pediatrics residency at Morehouse School of Medicine where she trained at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta while focusing her continuity clinic care in underserved clinics, primarily those focused on African American healthcare, in the metro Atlanta area.
While obtaining her undergraduate degree at Georgia Southern University, she became a MHIRT (Minority Health International Research Training) Scholar which is an NIH funded grant for undergraduate students interested in pursuing global health field specialties. Read More.
Kelly Bogaert grew up in the mountains of Colorado. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, she studied International and Environmental Studies, which both piqued her initial interest in medicine.
After college, she lived in Malawi, working on research related to severe acute malnutrition, and completed a Post-Bac program at UVM. She attended the University of Washington in Seattle for medical school, where she fell in love with women’s health while working on a project to improve evidence-based and respectful maternity care in Kenya. She completed her training in OB/GYN at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Read More.
Kristin Nguyen is originally from the Washington, D.C. area. Her parents immigrated from Vietnam during the war. Their refugee stories ignited Kristin’s interest in helping underserved populations globally. She became involved in the Amnesty International chapters at her high school and college at the University of Central Florida.
She debated becoming a human rights lawyer, but ultimately decided to major in Molecular and Microbiology and attend medical school at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. While there, she was fortunate to have opportunities to do global health work, including two volunteer experiences in the Dominican Republic and one in Bolivia. She moved to San Francisco for psychiatry residency at UCSF. Read More.
Pamela Etsitty is originally from Narrow Canyon, Arizona. She is of the Nat’oh Dine’e Tachii’nii (Tobacco/Red running into the water) clan and born for the Tl’izi lani (Many goats) clan. The Bit’ahniis (Within his cover) are her maternal grandfathers, and Todich’ii’niis (Bitter water) are her paternal grandfather clan. Pamela received her Bachelor’s degree in Health Promotion emphasis on Community Education from Northern Arizona University of Arizona.
Pamela works for Chinle Comprehensive Healthcare facility in Clinical and Community Nutrition for 13 years. She is committed to the development and strengthening of networks that support good health from new born to elders on the Navajo Nation reservation. She currently works as a lactation counselor, supporting baby-friendly at her worksite. Read More.
Shaniya Wood is a 25 year old Navajo, mother to Mason age 6 and Carter age 2. Shaniya and her family live in Naschitti, New Mexico. Shaniya currently works at Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup, New Mexico at the specialty clinic as a Lead Medical Assistant. Shaniya finished school 2014 then went on to becoming a Medical Assistant in 2017.
Shaniya has worked Oncology, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics before recently transferring into Urology, OB-GYN and General Surgery. Shaniya is very dedicated to her family, work and community. March of 2020 when the Coronavirus hit New Mexico Shaniya and her provider Dr. Caleb Lauber were sent to the local hotels in the Gallup community to care for over a total of 5,000 patients. Read More.
Youssouf Keita was born and raised in Bamako, the capital of Mali. He obtained his Doctorate in Medicine degree from the Faculty of Pharmacy and Medicine and Odonto-Stomatology in Mali in 2011. He started working the same year as a Research Assistant at the Center of Expertise and Research in Telemedicine.
From 2014 to the present day, he has worked for the NGO Muso where he has occupied various positions including community health worker (CHW) Manager, Training Director and, since 2017, Innovation and Training Director. He has also been involved in a lot of operational research and in responding to Muso’s strategic questions. Read More.
Zac Tabb grew up in the Bay Area, CA and after college left the state for the first time to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uganda. Inspired by his work with community health workers, he decided to pursue a career in medicine, determined to return to work in resource-restricted settings for his career.
He took a year off from medical school in Rhode Island to work as a Fogarty Global Health Fellow in Tanzania during which he focused on adolescents living with HIV and their mental health. He completed training in a Global Child Health Residency pediatrics program in Texas and now is excited to learn from and work alongside communities in New Mexico and Liberia. Read More.
Zena Salim completed her internal medicine residency at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California. She received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and attended medical school at Michigan State University.
She is originally from Kenya but grew up across many states including Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, and California. Her personal experience with her family members in Kenya along with refugee camps she volunteered with stimulated a passion in global medicine. She’s excited to be a part of the HEAL community and to dedicate her career to learning and focusing on low resource healthcare settings. In her free time, she can be found eating ice cream, traveling, or spending time with family. Read More.
Follow our Medium Publication “Voices From the Frontline” to hear more stories from the 2021/2023 HEAL Fellows as they begin their 2-year fellowship. Video introductions to fellows will come out Fridays in June and July!
Subscribe to the HEAL Initiative Newsletter for more stories from our Global Health fellows and updates coming from our international community.