Connect with Current Students

2021-2022 Admissions Liaisons

Please find below a directory of current students that make up our Admissions Liaisons Program.  They are eager and excited to speak with you!  Their bios shine light on topics that they are especially interested in discussing, and we are confident that they will be able to answer any questions you may have.  Do not hesitate to reach out to anyone of our Liaisons at any time- they are here to help!

Portrait of student LaMani Adkins

LaMani Adkins (she/her/hers)

Email:  lamani.adkins@duke.edu

Class Year:  2022

Hometown:  Detroit, MI 

I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan. I received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Spelman College in 2017. I am happy to discuss why I chose Duke, the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship track, study away opportunities for research, how to best navigate and access Duke’s resources (such as the Multicultural Resource Center), student community involvement, and the transition from an Historically Black College/University to a Predominately White Institution. Outside of medicine I am obsessed with mentorship, making a difference in my community (in Durham and my hometown, Detroit), power yoga, meditation, and brunch!


Portrait of student Alaowei Amanah

Alaowei Amanah

Email: aya8@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Charlotte, NC

Hi everyone, my name is Alaowei. I was born in Nigeria, but I moved to NC approximately 15 years ago. I went to undergrad at UNC-Chapel Hill and completed a Master of Physiology at NC State University before matriculating to Duke University School of Medicine. As a result, I took a non-traditional route (three gap years) before starting medical school. If you have any questions about what it is like to be a minority studying at Duke Med or the expectations for students, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am more than happy to help, and I am looking forward to answering any questions you may have. Good luck with your application, and I hope you accomplish your dream and get one step closer to becoming a medical doctor.


Portrait of student Mariam Ardehali

Mariam Ardehali (she/her/hers)

Email: mariam.ardehali@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Hi! My name is Mariam and I am from Chicago, IL. I graduated from Northwestern University in 2019 and conducted biochemical and epigenetic research for the past year in Chicago before starting at Duke. I stayed in Chicago a majority of my life and this is my first time moving away, so I’d love to talk about the experience of moving away from home and moving to a smaller city. I majored in Spanish and minored in Sociology, so feel free to ask me anything about transitioning from the humanities to a medical school environment. I am also Iranian-American, and speak Persian, Spanish and English. I am very passionate about social justice and hope to pursue a career in academic medicine with research focusing on health disparities. I’d love to answer any questions!


Portrait of student Courtney Bair

Courtney Bair

Email: cab192@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Hi everyone. My name is Courtney and I’m an MS2 here at Duke Med. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Vanderbilt in 2019. I did clinical research for one year before starting med school.  Here at Duke I’ve been involved with the Social Media Advisory Board, Med/Peds Interest Group, Admissions Recruitment Committee (second look planning), and Camp Kesem Advisory Board. I’m interested in a career focusing on adolescent medicine. Outside of school I enjoy hiking and spending time outdoors, baking, and watching college football. I’m happy to answer any questions about med school, Duke, and the city of Durham.


Portrait of student Meg Barlet with dog

Meg Barlet

Email: mhb44@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023 (MS3+)

Hometown: Denver, Colorado

I am an outdoor-loving, cupcake-baking former rugby player who grew up in Denver, Colorado. I majored in physics at Swarthmore College and spent a gap year doing infectious disease research at WashU in St. Louis before moving to North Carolina for medical school. I am in the primary care leadership track (PCLT), so I am happy to talk about outpatient medicine and what it’s like to participate in a longitudinal integrated clerkship. Since coming to Durham, I’ve adopted a 90 lb lab-shepherd mix named Bo and gotten married, so I am happy to chat about making time for life outside of the classroom and clinic as well!


Franz Belz (he/him)

Email: ffb6@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023 (MS3+)

Hometown: Gaiberg, Germany

Hallo! Howdy. I hope y’all are doing well. I’m Franz a German-transplant to Austin, Texas. Growing up as the child of a physical therapist and a physics professor, I naturally ended up curious about the intersection of the natural sciences and health. Between my own experiences of concussions and mental health challenges, I debated between majoring in biomedical engineering and psychology for undergrad at UT Austin. My undergrad experiences refined my interest towards mental health. Together with two classmates, I began a mental health committee for our major. In medical school, I continued this interest, helping build the Duke Medical Student Wellness Committee with my first-year co-chair Chanel Zhan. This work has continued to date, helping our MD program develop a student-informed approach at addressing medical student wellness. Professionally, I’m in interested in the intersection of primary care, mental health, and public health, which may lead to a Family Medicine-Psychiatry residency. Aside from nerding out about mental health, I strive to first lead a life outside medicine. You can catch me hiking, cooking, climbing, tubing, or playing music or sportsball on any given weekend. Cheers!


Portrait of student Matthew Bergens

Matthew Bergens

Email:  matthew.bergens@duke.edu

Class year: 2025

Hometown: New Orleans, LA

I graduated from NC State a Political Science & Spanish double major in 2013 and subsequently commissioned in the US Army as an Infantry Officer. My last duty station was with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC. In 2017, I decided to switch careers to medicine. In my transition, I completed a post-baccalaureate research internship at the National Institutes of Health and a Master of Physiology. My passions are Latin dancing, woodworking, and Olympic lifting. Happy to answer any questions you may have! 


Portrait of student Srijan Bhasin

Srijan Bhasin 

Email: srijan.bhasin@duke.edu 

Class Year: 2025 

Hometown: Reston, VA 

Hi, everyone! My name is Srijan, and I’m a current MS1. I attended the College of William & Mary, where I studied Mathematical Biology. After graduating, I spent two years at the NIH as a post-bac researcher in a computational neuroscience lab. I love my dog, food, dancing Bhangra, and driving. I’m happy to answer any and all questions but am particularly suited to talk about getting back into school after taking a few years off, virtual interviews, or what led me to Duke. 


Portrait of student HannahSofia Brown

HannahSofia Brown

Email: htb6@duke.edu

Class Year: 2022

Hometown: Minneapolis, MN

I’m from Minneapolis, and after doing my undergrad in Nashville I realized I never wanted to shovel snow again and that’s how I ended up in Durham! I love being outside, going for runs, and walking my cat, Charles. He is a very unique cat and is one of my true passions. At the moment, I am really interested in GI, and did research on Barrett’s esophagus for my 3rd year. As a fun fact, my favorite organ is the colon! I love to chat and if you have any questions feel free to reach out!


Portrait of student Erin Bush

Erin Brush

Email: esb43@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

I studied Molecular Biology and Psychology at Johns Hopkins then took a gap year working in a dermatology clinic in D.C. I decided to come to Duke because of the amazing people and research opportunities (and it turns out I’m a big fan of Durham!) My current interests are in pediatrics and surgery and I’m a part of Duke Med Elementary and HEY Durham. Outside of school I spend my time running and baking.


Portrait of student Vivian Chen wearing White Coat

Vivian Chen (she/her)

Email: vivian.w.chen@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Dusseldorf, Germany 

Hi, my name is Vivian! My family has been living in Germany for the past decade, which is where I call home, but I grew up moving around the States and Canada. I went to Duke for undergrad and graduated as a Neuroscience major in 2020. I spent my gap year in Germany working at a pharmaceutical company, tutoring virtually, and working at a summer camp for high schoolers interested in STEM. For fun, I love yoga, group fitness classes and trying new food in Durham. Very happy to chat about anything, including the interview process, making school decisions, returning to Duke for medical school, the culture of mentorship here, and more! 


Shannon Coats (she/her/hers)

Email: sd364@duke.edu

Class Year: 2022

Hometown: Garner, NC

My name is Shannon and I am an NC native. I graduated from NC State in 2014, then completed a graduate engineering degree and pursued research before coming to Duke. I would be happy to talk about anything including being a non-traditional med student, work-life balance, pursuing the MPH degree option, and North Carolina life in general. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have!


Portrait of student Anna-Maria Dagher

Anna-Maria Dagher (she/her/hers)

Email: annamaria.dagher@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Veazie, Maine

Hello! My name is Anna and I was born and raised in Veazie, Maine. I graduated from the University of Maine in 2019 with a degree in Biochemistry and a Microbiology minor. At UMaine, I was a student-athlete on the women’s soccer team. Following graduation, I worked as a medical scribe and for the CDC COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team. At Duke, I am part of Root Causes and have an initial interest in Sports Medicine and Orthopaedics as well as preventive medicine. Outside of academics, I am a certified personal trainer, and love playing and watching sports, going for walks, traveling, and trying the amazing restaurants Durham has to offer! I am happy to talk about all things related to medical school and life as a medical student - from living away from home for the first time, coming to Durham from New England, life post-college athletics, staying active/playing sports as a medical student, the application process, our first-year curriculum, etc. I look forward to meeting you!


Isa DeLaura 

Email: ifd3@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023 

Hometown: Boston, MA 

I am currently doing transplant immunology research and am planning on going into general surgery! Before medical school, I studied neurobiology at Harvard and then lived in Colombia for a year working on Dengue and Zika immunology projects. In my free time I enjoy exploring the triangle food scene and playing soccer. 


Portrait of student Amanda Del Risco

Amanda Del Risco

Email: acd62@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023

Hometown: Miami, FL

Amanda Del Risco is a third-year medical student at Duke University School of Medicine. She is a native of Miami, Florida and is from a Cuban-American Family. She graduated with a BA in Chemistry from Florida International University in Miami in 2017. During her time in college, she worked full time as a dance instructor at a local studio teaching a variety of styles of dance to children ages 3-17 regardless of disability. During her gap year, she continued teaching dance as well as volunteered in a clinic serving adults with developmental disabilities. Here, she became interested in addressing the health disparities underserved populations face in accessing health care and hopes to reduce the barriers families face in looking for care as a physician. Amanda is a proud member of Latino Medical Student Association and is a class representative on the Davison Council. Outside of medical school, Amanda loves dancing, watching musicals and sharing her love of her Cuban culture, especially Cuban coffee, with her peers.


Portrait of student Amika Ekanem in White Coat

Amika Ekanem (she/her/hers)

Email: amika.ekanem@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: New Martinsville, West Virginia

Hi everyone, I’m Amika! I grew up in New Martinsville, West Virginia, and I’m Nigerian and Trinidadian American. I went to Duke University for undergrad and majored in Biology and minored in Chemistry. After graduating in 2020, I spent a year working at a COVID-19 diagnostic lab in Henderson, NC before starting medical school. I am an Ensign in the US Navy through the Navy Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP). In my free time, I like to workout, roller-skate, and try out local restaurants. I am happy to talk about growing up in a rural community, Duke and Durham culture, and HPSP. 


Grace Futch

Email: bgf5@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Lytle Creek, CA

I am a non traditional student from a small rural community in southern California. I finished my undergraduate education in Psychology at the University of La Verne in 2014 and decided to pursue medicine several years later. I have a passion for anything related to outdoor hobbies including fishing, dirt biking, and equitation. Given my personal love for the outdoors and my academic interests in medical research, Duke and Durham was the perfect fit for me. I’d be happy to talk about attending medical school while still enjoying my personal life (significant other, dogs, hobbies, etc). 


Portrait of student Emily Goins in White Coat

Emily Goins

Email: emily.goins@duke.edu

Class Year: 2022

Hometown: Wellesley, MA

My name is Emily Goins and I am from Wellesley, MA. I am currently a fourth year medical student in the MD program. I attended undergrad at Middlebury College in Vermont, and I took one year off in between college and medical school to teach high school biology in Boston. I love DukeMed! This coming year, I will be the Social Chair for the student body and Communications Coordinator for the Emergency Medicine Interest Group. I was previously co-president of the Surgical Oncology Ambassadors Re-defining Recovery organization and helped run Fremont Clinic, one of the free clinics affiliated with Duke. Currently, I am either going into Emergency Medicine or OB/GYN (I have two weeks to decide!!). Outside of school, I love to dance, and I teach Zumba classes at Wilson and Brodie recreation centers at Duke. I am so excited to talk to applicants about transitioning back into the medical/school world after a gap year, how much I love Durham (especially the food, drink, and nature opportunities), anyone interested in women’s health and Emergency Medicine, activities you can participate in outside of the classroom, and in general why I chose Duke! 


Portrait of student Alexander Gunn

Alexander Gunn

Email: alexander.gunn@duke.edu

Class Year: 2022

Hometown: Davidson, NC

I am an NC native who took a non-traditional route to Duke Med. I majored in Anthropology at Northwestern University and worked for ~5 years before starting at Duke. Happy to talk about transitioning to medical school after working, getting married while in medical school, health policy research at Duke, and the pick-up basketball scene at Duke.


Portrait of student Katrina Huft

Katrina Huft

Email: katrina.huft@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Orange County, CA

Hey everyone! My name is Kat, and I am originally from Southern California. I studied neuroscience and theatre at the University of Southern California and graduated in 2020. I then took a gap year and taught STEM at a private high school in the Bay Area before coming to Duke Med in 2021. In my free time, I love to hang with my cat, Facetime my fiancé, and watch documentaries! If you have any questions - whether about owning pets in med school, being in a long-distance relationship, moving across the coast, or anything else you can think of - I'm happy to answer! 


Portrait of student Nicholas Johnson

Nick Johnson

Email: Nicholas.johnson@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023 (MS3+)

Hometown: Born in Jamaica but grew up mostly in Houston, TX.

I am interested in pursuing ophthalmology for residency; however this isn’t what I wanted to do when I first came to med school! I can speak to the MS3 and MS3+ experiences. I was also a member for the longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC) track for clinical rotations during MS2. I have a few hobbies outside of med school and can also talk about fun things to do in and around Durham!


Portrait of student Grace Kim in White Coat

Grace Kim

Email: gk125@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

Hi! My name is Grace, and I am an MS1. I was born and raised in Atlanta, went to Johns Hopkins for undergrad, where I majored in Neuroscience and Psychology, and came straight through to Duke. In my free time, I love reading, drawing, exploring new restaurants, and playing board and card games. I would love to talk about why I chose Duke, medical school right after undergrad, work-life balance, and any other questions that you may have about the application process and my experiences at DukeMed!


Portrait of student Annika Kruse in White Coat

Annika Kruse (she/her/hers)

Email:  Annika.kruse@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Swarthmore, PA

Hello! I am a MS1 who grew up outside Philadelphia and then went to undergrad at Princeton and majored in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. During my gap year I worked as a COVID-19 case investigator and contact tracer for Pennsylvania. Outside of school, I love to play pick up soccer, tennis, and volleyball, go on hikes at the Eno and Falls Lake, watch sporting events like Durham Bulls and Duke Basketball, go to the farmers market every weekend, and of course eat my way through Durhams amazing food scene. I am happy to speak about the weekly class schedule, curriculum, and moving/adjusting to Durham. I have only lived here in Durham for a few months but have taken every opportunity to explore and I love it! 


Terry Lee

Email:  terry.j.lee@duke.edu

Class Year: 2022

Hometown: Salinas, CA

Hi all. My name is Terry, and I am an MS4. I grew up in Salinas, CA and completed my undergraduate studies at Harvard, majoring in psychology. I am applying into ophthalmology residency this year. During my MS3 research year, I worked on several research projects within the ophthalmology department. My main project consisted of using deep learning algorithms and other statistical frameworks to develop tools for the detection and monitoring glaucoma. Outside of school, I enjoy rock climbing, exploring brewing, and watching soccer and football.


Linda Li (she/her/hers)

Email: linda.w.li@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: New Orleans, Louisiana

I’m a New Orleans native who graduated from Emory (in Atlanta) in 2019 with a double major in biology and creative writing, and completed a Fulbright ETA grant in Taiwan before coming to Duke. I’m interested in medical humanities and narrative medicine, and I like to dabble in art and writing in my free time. Happy to talk about the first year curriculum, the second-year Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC) track, the medical humanities scene at DukeMed, the best Asian food in Durham, or really anything you would like to ask!


Portrait of student Shweta Lodha in White Coat

Shweta Lodha

Email: sl382@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: New York

I was born and raised in Long Island, New York, and went to Duke University for college! As an undergraduate, I studied neuroscience and ethics. After graduating in 2019, I worked at the Icahn School of Medicine in NYC for two years, where I specifically conducted research investigating genetic therapy in cardiovascular disease. In my free time, I like to work out, cook, and travel! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about returning to Duke as a graduate student, exploring Durham, navigating a work-life balance, and/or more!


Portrait of student Jane Marryat

Jane Marryat

Email: jem142@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Waxhaw, NC

I am a current MS2 at Duke from Waxhaw, North Carolina; I graduated in 2020 from the University of South Carolina after studying biology, neuroscience, and political science. My primary interests are in psychiatry and neurology. I'd be happy to talk about why I chose Duke for med school, my experiences as an MS1, what it's like living in Durham, or anything else--please feel free to reach out!


 

Portrait of student Lexy Medema

Lexy Medema (she/her/hers)

Email: alexis.medema@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD

I graduated from Duke in 2017 with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Education. Following undergrad, I finished a master’s in Genetics & Molecular Medicine at the University of Edinburgh and then worked as a clinical research coordinator in aortic surgery at Penn. My career interests are in surgery and medical education, while outside of school, you’ll often find me traveling or in a yoga studio. I would be happy to talk about anything regarding the Duke experience (including basketball!), living in Durham, gap year experiences, the DukeMed curriculum, medical school admissions, and anything and everything else. Between undergrad and medical school, I really consider this university home, so please feel free to reach out!


Portrait of student Aden Pepe Haskell-Mendoza in White Coat

Aden Pepe Haskell-Mendoza

Email: aden.mendoza@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Sacramento, CA

I studied Neuroscience and Philosophy at UC San Diego, where I also completed my Master's thesis in Biology. I then took another gap year to work in clinical and translational brain tumor immunology at UC Davis Medical Center prior to Duke. I am interested in novel surgical technologies and improving equity within neurosurgery. I'd be happy to discuss any questions you might have, but can particularly help with: gap years/non-trad/post-bac, moving cross-country, being Latino at Duke, research, etc. Don't hesitate to reach out!


Portrait of student Gabriela Nisly

Gabriela Nisly

Email: gabriela.nisly@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Iowa City, IA

Hey applicants! I am so excited for you guys to interview and happy to answer any questions at all y'all have about Duke or medical school in general. In particular, some things I really like to talk about are: adjusting to medical school, finding support and mentorship, prioritizing your mental health, global health interests, emergency medicine or surgery interests, Duke LMSA, having a dog, maintaining long-distance relationships, taking time off before starting med school...food and activities in Durham!! And really anything else y'all are interested in knowing. I went to Johns Hopkins for undergrad and graduated Fall 2018, took about 8 months to live abroad, then worked at an education non-profit in Baltimore for two years until starting at Duke this year. Please feel free to reach out with questions :)


Portrait of student Kelly Owens

Kelly Owens

Email: kelly.owens@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Greenville, NC

Hi everyone! I was born and raised in Greenville, NC, and I hope to live here for the rest of my life! My entire family lives in NC, and NC is a special place to me. I hope and feel confident that you will love it here too! I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and had the best college experience in the neighboring city to Durham. Go Tarheels! I worked as a nursing assistant in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit for almost two years before starting at Duke. I love dancing, reading, working out, going to the beach, and being outside, and now, I love DukeMed, too.  I am happy to talk about Durham, NC, DukeMed, transitioning to medical school, and anything else. Please don’t hesitant to reach out to me. I utilized the student ambassador page during my admission cycle and found all of my conversations reassuring. 


Portrait of student Madhura Pande

Madhura Pande

Email: madhura.pande@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Florence, South Carolina

I majored in Biology and Spanish in the Honors College at the University of South Carolina but switched Carolinas for med school! I am happy to chat about coming to Duke from a state school. I also did a gap year in renal clinical research at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. I’m passionate about service, specifically in Latinx communities, and would love to share about my experiences in ACCES (a medical Spanish course here) and in the Holton Clinic (a free medical clinic). Feel free to ask me about anything- the unique curriculum, work/life balance as an MS1, community and wellness, etc.


Portrait of student Katherine Penvose

Katie Penvose

Email: knp26@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: New Bern, NC

Hi everyone! I grew up in the Midwest before relocating to New Bern, NC in 2016. I went to Washington University in St. Louis where I studied biochemistry and medical humanities. After graduating from WashU in 2019, I worked as a medical assistant in a dermatology office for my gap year. I'd be happy to talk to you about why I chose Duke, the transition back to school after taking a year off, moving from the Midwest, or any other questions you have!


Portrait of student Denisse Porras in White Coat

Denisse Porras

Email: dp238@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023

Hometown: Tijuana, Mexico

I am a nontraditional applicant and took three years from undergrad to medical school. I spent a year in a dietetic internship to become a dietitian then worked two years as a clinical and outpatient dietitian. I grew up in Mexico but have been in the southeast area for quite some time; I absolutely love Durham and would be happy to talk about how to settle in when you're coming from another city/state/country. I also live a bit farther from campus and can speak on the benefits/drawbacks of not living in close proximity to school. I'd be happy to answer any and all questions; so happy you decided to come to Duke, we are so excited to have you!


Portrait of student Ivana Premasinghe

Ivana Premasinghe 

Email: ikp3@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Cary, NC

Hi everyone! My name is Ivana, and I’m an MS2. I'm from Cary, NC and have lived in North Carolina my whole life. I went to Duke for undergrad, where I double majored in Biology and Spanish with a minor in Chemistry. I graduated from Duke in 2019 and spent my one gap year before medical school working as a Spanish teacher at a local preschool and volunteering with my leadership club, Leaders UNITE. 

In terms of medical interests, I am interested in outpatient Psychiatry. I’m a member of the LIC (Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship) second year program, which focuses on longitudinal relationships with patients and mentors with a larger outpatient component than the regular second year track. I’m one of the two Curriculum Committee Representatives for our class as well, where I serve as a liaison between students and administrators about various aspects of the curriculum. I also continue to volunteer with the leadership club I founded in high school, Leaders UNITE, where I work with middle and high school students to teach them leadership skills. During my time at DukeMed, I also founded an organization called StudentsSHARE, a support group for local middle and high school students as they navigate the world of online learning and COVID. I also continue to be involved in Duke undergrad as well- as an admissions interviewer and premed mentor. I hope to continue my interest in Spanish language throughout medical school as well, and I was a member of the Medical Spanish course during my first year. In the LIC program this year, I hope to further explore psychiatry initiatives relating to Spanish-speaking patients and school-aged children in the Durham community.

One central part of my identity is making time for and continuing to pursue my passions outside of medicine even while I’m in medical school. I’m incredibly passionate about writing- I’m currently writing/editing my first book in a young adult fiction trilogy, which I hope to submit for publication soon (once I finish the many, many rounds of edits!) In my free time, I also love to run, ride my bike, spend time with my parents/friends (who luckily live close-by!), play piano/guitar/sing, watch tennis/cycling, and watch TV (I’m a huge anime fan!)

I’m happy to talk with students about anything- the application process, transitioning to medical school after a gap year, the transition from Duke Undergrad to DukeMed, ways to volunteer with the Durham community/Durham Public Schools/Spanish-speaking community, work-life balance, North Carolina, or anything else that might be useful!


Portrait of student Rachael Putman

Rachael Putman

Email: rachael.putman@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024 (MS2)

Hometown: Belton, MO

I am an MS2 in the MSTP program at Duke. Clinically, I am most interested in neonatology or maternal-fetal medicine right now. I want to pursue my PhD in biomedical engineering and am interested in reproductive medicine, fetal therapies, drug delivery, gene editing, biomaterials, and/or tissue engineering. I’m happy to talk to anyone about what the first-year curriculum is like, about the MD/PhD program at Duke, or what it’s like moving to Durham. I’m originally from the Kansas City area, but went to Yale for undergrad so can talk a little about how Durham is similar or different to the Midwest and/or Northeast. During my first year, I was involved with the bioethics interest group year and would be happy to talk to anyone interested about that too!


Portrait of student Alessandro Racioppi in White Coat

Alessandro Racioppi

Email: alessandro.racioppi@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Rome, Italy

I was born in Rome, Italy and raised there until I was 13 when I made Chapel Hill, North Carolina (9 miles from Durham) my home. I am a dual citizen of Italy and the United States and am happy to share my experiences with any fellow students that are immigrants, bilingual, or bicultural. I attended Elon University for my undergraduate studies, pursuing degrees in the areas of Biology and Neuroscience. I experienced a period of significant medical hardship during my time as an undergraduate and am glad to share my experience with anyone experiencing personal health struggles. I subsequently completed a Pre-Health post-baccalaureate program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2019 and a Master of Biomedical Sciences program from Duke University School of Medicine in 2020. For the year prior to my medical school enrollment, I worked as a clinical research specialist at the Duke Cancer Institute. I love being involved in the process of scientific discovery and have been a part of cancer research teams at different institutions. I am also an avid football player/fan (the original football, aka soccer here) and captain an adult competitive team in a local league, which helps me stay active and grounded in my hobbies. Please reach out if you have any questions about the area, graduate/medical school, and sports/activities around here!


Portrait of student Lee Schmidt

Lee Schmidt        

Email: lss45@duke.edu

Class Year: 2022 / MS4

Hometown: Jackson, MS

I’m a current MS4 applying this cycle for General Surgery residency! My research interests are focused on trauma and critical care patients and improving their outcomes. At Duke I’m involved with Hotspotting, the Student Faculty Show, and the General Surgery Interest Group. Outside of the hospital, I like running, yoga, going to concerts, writing, and testing coffee shops in the Triangle.


Portrait of student Connie Scoggins in White Coat

Connie Scoggins

Email: connie.scoggins@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023

Hometown: Herndon, VA

My name is Connie. I'm a former Duke grad and glad to be back in Durham with its good-eats and breweries galore. I originally studied computer science, and it wasn't until after graduation that I decided to throw that qualification out the window and take all the premed courses (jk- CS is very relevant to medicine!). I then scribed in an ER and crossed my fingers to end up back at Duke! I am just starting my third year and am interested in dermatology and psychiatry. I would be happy to chat with you about any questions and/or thoughts you might have. 


Michael Snider

Email: michael.snider@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Hello everyone! I’m a current MS1 interested in oncology, bioethics & narrative medicine. In my free time, I love hiking, playing board games, and checking out Durham’s awesome food scene. I would love to answer any and all questions you have about Duke Med!


Portrait of student Jacob Sperba

Jacob Sperber

Email: jes148@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Woodcliff Lake, NJ

Hello! My name is Jacob and I was born and raised in New Jersey. I went to Williams College where I studied psychology and neuroscience, and launched a cooking club. I then spent a year in Madrid working in a neuroscience lab followed by a year in NYC working for a small biotech company probing the gut-brain axis. I am happy to chat about anything and everything related to medicine or gap years, but I am also always excited to talk about my passions for cooking, food, coffee, reading, any type of physical activity, and guitar. Looking forward to connecting!


Portrait of student Becca Sullenger

Becca Sullenger

Email: rebecca.sullenger@duke.edu

Class Year: Class of 2025

Hometown: Chapel Hill, NC

I was born and raised in North Carolina and am excited to be back in North Carolina for medical school. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in public health, I spent one year doing health policy research at the National Academy of Medicine in Washington, D.C. I am happy to talk about all things DukeMed, including why I choose Duke, and about my interests in clinical research and public health. For fun I enjoy hiking, running, traveling, watching college sports and spending time with my friends and family (which includes pets)!


Portrait of student Meghan Sullivan

Meghan Sullivan

Email: meghan.sullivan@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Granby, MA

Hi everyone! I grew up in a small town in Western Mass and went to public school there. I then went to Amherst College and was on the basketball team. After graduating, I took a year off to scribe at a pediatric office while living at home. Other than that, I like watching the Celtics and Netflix, occasionally playing pick-up, going for a jog, or doing yoga, and sometimes paint for fun. When I go home, I love being with my family and taking our Labradors for a walk. I think I may be interested in neurology or psychiatry but it is definitely too soon to tell! I am also very interested in medical education and leadership in medicine. I am happy to talk about Duke, Durham, coming back to school after a year off, work-life balance, or really anything at all. Please don’t hesitate to reach out!


Portrait of student Max Sumner

Max Sumner (he/him/his)

Email: max.sumner@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Gainesville, GA

Hi! My name is Max Sumner and I am an MS2 originally from Gainesville, Georgia. For undergrad, I attended the University of Georgia where I studied Biology, Psychology, and Entrepreneurship. At Duke, I am planning on completing a dual degree (MBA along with my MD degree). Beyond the resume, I really enjoy spending time outside hiking, swimming, and going to concerts. I also enjoy cheering on the Georgia Bulldawgs on Saturdays and traveling as much as I can on weekends. As I came straight from undergrad, I am more than happy to discuss anything about my application process/cycle, how I picked a med school, transitioning from a large state school, Duke Med's culture, Duke basketball, and anything else going on in Durham. Please reach out if you have any questions!


Portrait of student Julie Thamby

Julie Thamby

Email: jmt114@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Gilbert, AZ

Hi! I’m Julie and I was born in Oman, but my family and I have been living in AZ for the past fifteen years or so. I went to Rice for my undergrad and majored in Cognitive Science. In college I was involved in various mentoring roles, dance teams, and loved learning about and being a part of social justice and service clubs. Currently, I am undecided about what I want to do in medicine but have been enjoying exploring my options and conducting peds research. Outside of school, I love to dance, check out new restaurants, go on hikes, and explore the city with friends! Although I may have had a slightly different start to my med school career as I started during covid, I’m happy to chat with you about the application process, moving to NC, life in Durham, work/life balance, and any questions you may have about 1st or 2nd year!


Portrait of student Steven Thornton

Steven Thornton (he/him/his)

Email: steven.thornton@duke.edu

Class Year: 2023

Hometown: Camden, NC

My name is Steven, and I am an MS3 at Duke. I grew up in Eastern North Carolina and have spent most of my life in the state. I graduated from NC State with a B.S. in Civil Engineering in 2016 before completing a post baccalaureate premed program at Johns Hopkins. I then spent the next couple of years as a high school teacher back here in NC! I'll be applying into general surgery with specific interests in pediatric and cardiac surgery. I'm happy to discuss non-traditional paths into medicine, choosing a school, the Duke curriculum, or anything else. Duke is a wonderful place to study medicine and I am happy to call Durham home. I hope you'll reach out as you explore this exciting stage of your career.


Kristin Tissera

Email: kristin.tissera@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Lexington, MA

I graduated from Tufts University in 2020 with double majors in Anthropology and Biology. After that, I spent my gap year in Singapore on a Fulbright Scholarship doing research on skin pigmentary disorders. I had previously conducted clinical and ethnographic research, though my research in Singapore was wet lab. I am fascinated by research in all forms, and would be happy to talk about research experiences! Outside of academics, I'm passionate about dance and love exploring the outdoors.


Portrait of student Margaret Weber

Margaret Weber (She/Her/Hers)

Email: margaret.c.weber@duke.edu

Class Year: 2028, I am a second year (MS2) MSTP

Hometown: Sewickley, PA

Hi! My name is Margaret! I am from the Pittsburgh area and went to Middlebury College for undergrad where I majored in molecular biology and minored in studio art. After graduating, I spent two years at Boston Children's Hospital studying hematopoiesis and cancer biology using zebrafish as a model. Now I am a second year in the MD-PhD program, which means that I am in my clinical year now and will be starting my PhD next year. Broadly, I am interested in cell biology, oncology, and infectious disease! Outside of school, I love painting, hiking, climbing, and playing with my puppy Monty! Feel free to reach out! Happy to discuss basic science research at Duke, MSTP, volunteer opportunities, life in Durham, hobbies, or really anything!


Portrait of student Peter Weng

Peter Weng

Email: peter.weng@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024-2025

Hometown: Silver Spring, MD

Hi, I’m an MD-PhD student in my graduate school years, so I’ve been here for a bit. I’m happy to talk about what it’s like moving south of Maryland, being a first-time home owner, getting a dog in Durham, the latest in sports, building a garage gym during the pandemic to make sure I could stay in shape, investing in stocks and cryptocurrency, my research on the gut-brain connection (find out more here: www.gutbrains.com), science communication, and honestly whatever you all have questions on.


Portrait of student Marilyn Yamamoto in White Coat

Marilyn Yamamoto           

Email: Marilyn.yamamoto@duke.edu

Class Year: 2024

Hometown: Kapolei, Hawaii

My name is Marilyn Yamamoto and I am a current MS2! I am originally from Kapolei, Hawaii and went to the University of Hawaii at Hilo for undergrad, majoring in Cell and Molecular Biology. I took a gap year before coming to med school where I worked as a ED Scribe and volunteered at various hospitals across Hawaii. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions about moving to Durham from far away, gap year, what it’s like to be in med school, or anything really!


Portrait of student Taylor Yoder in White Coat

Taylor Yoder (She/Her/Hers)

Email: taylor.yoder@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Knoxville, TN

I was born and raised in Knoxville, TN (Go Vols!). I graduated from Bowdoin College in 2019 where I was a Chemistry/Neuroscience major and on the women's rugby team. After graduating, I spent two years in Boston working in vaccine research and spending my free time volunteering in search and rescue and coaching a youth climbing team. Outside of medical school, I love cooking, hiking, photography, reading, trying new breweries/coffee shops, and doing really anything outside. If you have any questions about Duke/Durham, feel free to contact me! I am happy to chat about work-life balance in medical school, moving to Durham, what makes DukeMed unique, being queer at Duke, or anything else!


Portrait of student Kathleen Young

Kathleen Young (she/her/hers)

Email: kathleen.young@duke.edu

Class Year: 2025

Hometown: Essex Junction, Vermont

Hi! My name is Kathleen and I’m a current MS1. I’m originally from a small town near Burlington, Vermont, and love to hike, fish, and be outside. I graduated from Harvard with a degree in Human Evolutionary Biology and Global Health in 2019 where I was also a member of the field hockey team. I’ve loved my experience at Duke and in Durham so far, and I’m happy to chat about transitioning to med school, moving to a new city, and anything else that might come up throughout this cycle!


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