Connect with Current Students


2017-2018 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!


Andre Agassi

My name is Andre Agassi and I am from Nashville, Tennessee. Currently I am a second year medical student in the MD program. I was an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and would be excited to talk to anyone coming from out of state especially from larger state schools such as UTK or other SEC schools. I also took a year off between my undergraduate college education and the start of my medical career. I can provide some insight about transitioning from a gap year back into an educational setting.

Benjamin Andrew


Hometown: Westport, CT
Undergrad: Cornell University —> dietetic internship at Brigham and Women’s 
Topics of Interest: research, dual degrees (MD/MHSc dual degree), non-traditional pathways


Andrew Barbour

Andrew Barbour grew up in Fairfax, VA and graduated from Duke University in 2007.  He then obtained a PhD in marine biology and fisheries science at the University of Florida, working in the mangroves on SW Florida. Next, he spent two years as a research associate in neonatology at the Medical University of South Carolina.
Andrew is excited to talk with prospective students on a variety of topics, particularly in relation to untraditional paths to medicine, transitioning back to classroom learning, how Durham has evolved over the past decade, the flexibility of Duke’s curriculum in fitting individual interests, and life in med school as a thirty year old.

Stephen Barchick

I attended a Jesuit high school and am a former collegiate rower who graduated college in 2009.  Following college I was commissioned in Marine Corps from 2010-2015 serving two deployments before beginning medical school in 2015.

Hometown: Toledo, OH
Undergraduate Institution: Harvard
Topics of Interest: Veterans in medicine, veterans health, students interested in public/military service, student-athletes in medicine

Hannah Bell

My name is Hannah Bell.  I am a first year MD/PhD student interested in genetic disease and cell biology.  I am from San Diego, CA and went to UCLA for undergrad.  I would be excited to talk with applicants about the MD/PhD application process, how I chose Duke, and what the accelerated first year curriculum is like.

Isaac Bleicher

Hi! I’m one of the newly minted third years at Duke Med. I grew up in Boston and studied chemical engineering and economics at MIT. After graduation, I worked for almost four years for a management consulting firm where I advised clients in healthcare, health insurance and life-sciences industries on marketing, organizational and product strategy. I started at Duke in 2015 and have been involved in Davison Council (our student government organization), work on a project teaching nutrition to medical students and am starting my research studying 3D modelling and virtual reality in the ophthalmology OR. In my spare time, I like to be outside cycling, rock climbing or hiking and do a lot of cooking as well. I’m happy to talk to anyone about alternative paths to medicine, healthcare business, engineering, keeping up hobbies during medical school or really anything else!

Kelly Buchanan

I am rising third year medical student at Duke University School of Medicine. I am from Chicago,IL and attended Case Western Reserve University for college. I graduated in 2015 with a degree in Biomedical Engineering. I am still debating what residency to pursue, but am interested in internal medicine, pediatrics, or medicine-psychiatry. I am excited to talk to applicants about how much I love living in Durham, the pros/cons of the Duke curriculum, and in general what it is like to be a Duke med student. 

Bryanna Carpenter 

Hi! My name is Bryanna Carpenter, and I am currently a MS2. I’m from Charlotte, NC and I graduated from Harvard in 2015. While there, I majored in Stem Cell Biology, with a minor in Race & Gender Studies, and a foreign language citation in Spanish. Feel free to contact me about anything regarding Duke, but I am especially available to talk about North Carolina in general, extracurriculars, getting involved in research as a MS1, music, and maintaining a work-life balance (which I firmly believe in). 

Jonathan Chang

I am a second third year student (entering c/o 2014) originally from Austin, Texas. I did my undergrad at the University of Texas at Austin. For my third year(s), I did a year of research in Uganda and am now pursuing an MPH at UNC. I would love to talk about global health opportunities and applicants interested in MPH programs.


Rachel Draelos

Rachel is a fourth year MD/PhD student (GS-2), currently working on a PhD in Computer Science in Lawrence Carin’s research group. She grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (Redmond, Washington), and then migrated eastward to study computational biology at Cornell. Before coming to Duke she worked for a year as a research programmer at the University of Pennsylvania. Rachel is currently in her second PhD year, focusing on medical applications of machine learning. Clinically, she is interested in medical genetics. In her free time Rachel enjoys biking, creative writing, playing the piano, and exploring North Carolina with her husband. Rachel would be happy to talk with applicants about living in Durham, attending Duke Med, and the many exciting computational/quantitative biomedical research opportunities at Duke. 

Valentine Rae Esposito

Hi everyone!  My name is Valentine.  I’m an MS3+ here at Duke Med where I’m currently working on an MHS dual degree through the Clinical Research Training Program.  I came down to Durham for undergrad at Duke in 2010, and just never left since being a Blue Devil was just too perfect.  I would be very excited to talk to prospective applicants about life in Durham, extracurricular activities (especially student government, teaching opportunities, and the Student Faculty Show!), dual degree programs, and the sense of community here are Duke Med.  Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Alex Fenn

My name is Alex Fenn, and I’m currently a MS1. I am a Colorado native, having grown up in Fort Collins, CO, and attended CU Boulder for my undergrad. After college, I did Teach For America and taught third grade for three years. I then enrolled in a formal post-bacc program at CU in order to obtain my prerequisites, and worked at a GI clinic during my application year. 

I am happy to talk about being a non-traditional student at Duke (and anything this encompasses), as well as advantages of the condensed curriculum from an educator’s perspective.
My (non-school) related interests are: Running, being outside in general, reading, and anything of/relating to food/drink. I welcome any and all conversations about these topics!

Emma Fixsen

I am a MS3 from Chapel Hill, NC.  I also went to UNC-Chapel Hill for undergrad (clearly, I love this area haha).  During college I was very involved with the student radio station, and graduated in 2011 with a degree in studio art (focus in drawing and painting).  After college I made a complete 180 and worked in a lab at Duke for two years, studying hematopoietic stem cells. I then completed a post-bac program at Meredith College (had to take all the pre-med classes) and applied to med school!  During my application year I worked as a medical assistant at a dermatology office, and as an EMT with the South Orange Rescue Squad.  

For my research year I got a Doris Duke fellowship and will be working in Puerto Maldonado, Peru.  I'm interested in OB-Gyn (but also everything, I'm indecisive) and will be studying mercury exposures during pregnancy and maternal-fetal outcomes. 

Topics of Interest: things to do in Durham/NC, being a non-traditional student, why I chose Duke, medical humanities, life outside of school (running, hiking, music/art scene), and fun things to do with your classmates (Student Faculty Show!)

Jenna Frush


Hometown: Durham, NC
Undergrad: Duke
Topics of Interest: academic resources, school-life balance, life in Durham, and anything else you think would be helpful


Jemi Galani

Jemi Galani is an MS1 from Charlotte, NC. She attended Duke University for undergrad, where she majored in biology, and went straight through to medical school after graduation. Feel free to reach out to her with any questions about navigating the medical school application process, how to balance interests in both research and public health, the transition to medical school, or any other queries you may have. 

Elizabeth Howell

I'm originally from Atlanta, and came to Duke in 2010 for undergrad. After graduating, I worked for two years as the clinic coordinator for Duke's Brain Tumor Center, and decided to stay here for med school! I would love to talk to anyone who has questions about living in Durham - I've been here for 7 years, so I'm basically an expert! I'm also more than happy to talk about the transition from working to going back to school, and the DukeMed first year in general. I would also be excited to talk about the types of things DukeMed students are involved in outside of the classroom. There are some amazing extracurricular opportunities here, and I would love to chat with you about them!

Jennifer Huang

Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS
Undergraduate institution: Stanford University 

I am an MSTP student who is now in my last year of graduate school, meaning that I’ve been at Duke and in Durham for a while! Both Duke and Durham were great when I started here, and both have only gotten better over the years! I’d love to talk to anyone about Duke (clinical rotations in year 2 and super supportive and friendly faculty and staff!), my experience living in Durham (love the food and my dragon boat team!), and any other questions you may have!

Ouwen Huang

My name is Ouwen Huang hailing from San Antonio, Texas. My undergrad years were spent at Duke as a nerdy computer science major. Currently, I am a year 2 Duke MD/PhD Candidate and entrepreneur interested in applying machine learning to medicine. I'm very passionate about tech in medicine, and would love to talk about the kind of resources Duke provides in this space. Hope to see you here!

Kevin Ji

I’m an MS3 doing a Masters in Clinical Research for the next 2 years here at Duke.

Hometown: Toronto
Undergrad: University of Pennsylvania
Topics of Interest: Transitioning from life in the North/ Northeast, unique features of Duke’s program and objective assessment of Duke SOM vs other medical schools, things to do around Durham, what I enjoy about being at Duke, general life advice regarding going into the medical field

Rayan Nadim Kaakati

Undergraduate School: UC Davis (go aggies!)
Hometown: California and Lebanon/Beirut

I was born and raised in California for 10 years (lived all over Cal), moved to Lebanon for 1 year, then to Qatar for 5 years, back to Lebanon for 3 years of high school, then back to CA for undergrad and now in North Carolina! I love moving and meeting new people and discovering new places. It’s been a privilege to be part of the diverse Duke and North Carolina community. My family actually moved to Cary, NC and we couldn’t have imagined a better place to be in. It’s been great (not to mention the beauty of having 4 seasons with amazing food in the triangle). Please feel free to email me with any questions! Happy to discuss anything.

Apoorva Kandakatla

My name is Apoorva Kandakatla, and I am a MSI at Duke this year. My hometown is Columbus, Ohio, and I went to school at the University of Pittsburgh. I graduated from Pitt in 2016, and I took a gap year to continue my research in regenerative ophthalmology before I joined medical school at Duke. I would love to talk about anything dealing with research, global health, social justice, or how to generally choose a medical school that is a good fit for you.

Brian Ketterman

Hometown: Pueblo, Colorado
Undergrad: University of Denver, Biology & Psychology, graduated June 2016
Topic of Interest: I would be happy to talk about whatever you would like!



Amanda Matthews

I’m a current MS1 at Duke. Grew up mostly in Pennsylvania. Graduated from the United States Military Academy in 2012 with a Life Science degree. Served five years as an active duty Army officer prior to coming to Duke. I’ve been married for four years and have three dogs.

Topics of Interest: I’d be willing to take any questions from applicants but specific areas I could probably help the most with are any military vets looking to come to Duke, questions about being a non-traditional applicant and getting back into school after a number of years off, and being married in medical school. 

Krystina Quow

My name is Krystina Quow and I am a fourth year medical student. I'm originally from Springfield, NJ and I moved to Durham in 2009 to attend Duke University where I received a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in chemistry and biology. Upon completing my undergraduate education, I worked as a research assistant at the Duke Eye Center identifying genetic variants for high myopia and also worked as a general and organic chemistry teaching assistant. Since matriculating to Duke for medical school, I have been involved as a co-president for our chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), a year one Practice Course student leader, and a student ambassador for the medical school. In my free time, I enjoy trying new restaurants in the area, traveling, and trying new exercise venues in Durham like Pure Barre and syncstudio. I would be interested in talking about life in Durham, my experiences as a double Dukie, and why DukeMed is a great choice.

Victoria Robinson

Education: Stanford Class of 2012, NYU Postbacc 2015
Hometown: New Haven, CT/New York, NY
Topics of Interest: Happy to chat about post-bacc programs, taking time off between medical school and undergrad, transition from Northeast to Durham, being a minority at Duke, and any general questions about DukeMed



Larissa Rodriguez-Homs


Hometown: Houston, Texas
Undergraduate Institution: University of Michigan
Topics of Interest: Underrepresented minorities, Life in Durham, School Curriculum, Counseling/Student Support- any topic/questions welcome!


Emily Romanoff


I’m from Durham, Connecticut and went to school at the University of Richmond, Class of 2016 where I was a major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 


I’d love to talk about:

  1. How to get involved in the Durham/Duke community outside of the classroom
  2. How to make full use of the resources (faculty, deans, online journals/databases) that Duke offers. I found the Deans Group program to be really helpful — I think our group is very supportive of each other, and my dean has been a strong source of support for me
  3. The advantages of our accelerated curriculum. I’ve had a really great experience with Duke in terms of the welcoming and family/friend-oriented community here, so I can definitely take about that too! 
  4. The benefits of early clinical exposure (ie. ACE clinic, Practice Course, Community Partner) at Duke 
  5. Being the first doctor in my family! 
  6. The great things about Durham, NC, including places to live nearby campus as well as cheaper options further from campus. 

Melissa Ross

I'm an MS2 from Warrington, PA and I graduated from the University of Richmond in 2016. I'm happy to talk with students about quite literally anything, but I have personal experience coming to school straight through from college, transitioning from student-athlete to full-time student, and Jewish life here. 



Elise Seyferth

My name is Elise and I’m an MS2 from Bennington, VT. I went to Dartmouth College and then took two gap years, one of which I spent doing a Fulbright research year in Germany studying chemical ecology and the other in New York City working on a pediatric obesity prevention and treatment quality improvement project. I love the outdoors, cross-country skiing and running, snow (unfortunately not something I find in Durham much), and visiting the Duke Lemur Center as much as possible. I’m happy to talk with you about the experience of Duke’s MS1 year with the compressed curriculum, life at DukeMed after taking a gap year or years, what it’s like living in Durham, and the benefits and drawbacks of Duke’s curriculum overall, among other things!  

Anand Shah 

My name is Anand Shah and I am originally from Greenville, SC. I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I studied Business Administration, graduating in 2015. Following graduation, I traveled to Eastern Europe prior to starting medical school. Since starting at Duke, I’ve made an effort to explore the health system as a whole and decided to pursue the joint MD/MBA.

Topics of Interest: general life at Duke School of Medicine, second year, dual degrees, intramural sports, curriculum, general questions

Zachary Smothers

I was born in a rural farm town in Northeastern Ohio. Although I technically lived in Nova (a small town composed of one stop sign with roughly 500 inhabitants) I commuted to school in the larger village of New London, Ohio with about 2000 residents. The best way I can describe my hometown is “resource poor” due to the fact that most of us live in serious poverty with few opportunities. I am a first generation college student and one of an exceptionally small group to go to college. No one I know of (besides myself) has gone on to graduate or professional school. New London has a serious heroin issue with many of my friends either being dead from or in for jail heroin. Suffice to say I did not have a traditional up-bringing. Before coming to Duke, I attended The Ohio State University, the second largest school (by student population) in the nation. After this I earned my Masters of Biomedical Science from the Duke University School of Medicine, allowing me to live in Durham for over 2 years now. 

Topics of Interest: Personally, I would be excited to talk to students about the opportunities that Duke provides. Coming from a resource poor environment, I am constantly in awe of the volume and quality of the opportunities that are available to us. Also, I would like to discuss with students the atmosphere and culture that Duke possesses. Reflecting on my journey, it was a daunting task to come from literal corn fields to a major academic hospital. I want to share this experience of how Duke’s culture has been accepting and grateful of my perspective, as well as the resources available to ensure you do feel as if you belong. Finally, I want to be able to have frank conversations with applicants about what they will learn from Duke and Durham outside of the classroom. Durham is an incredibly diverse society, and I know I have benefitted from getting to know the people, places, and cultures that make Durham what it is.

Mara Storto

I am a current MS4 from Concord, MA. I attended Duke University and completed a double major in Chinese Language & Culture and Religion. For interested applicants, I would be more than happy to discuss life in Durham and the amazing opportunities for 3rd year at Duke. I have loved living in Durham for the past 7 years, and have made it a mission to explore new restaurants and activities. Durham really has everything that I would want in a graduate school city, which I definitely would not have expected before I lived here. I also would love to chat about the value of Duke’s third year curriculum. I was lucky to be able to spend my year working in a lab in New York City, due to a generous scholarship that a Duke mentor advised me to apply for. There are so many rewarding experiences you can create for yourself, ranging from a second degree to basic science research in another country! Good luck and please reach out to me with any questions that you have.

Aaron Tarnasky

Hometown: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Undergrad: University of Notre Dame
Topics of Interest: DukeMed Community, Durham Bar Scene, Cycling, The Triangle Area, Basketball, Getting Involved, Coming Directly from Undergrad, Coursework, Anything Else

David Tat

Hometown: Dallas, TX
Undergrad: Duke University
Topics of Interest: Non-traditional students, career switching, where to live, and making long distance relationships work!



Jennifer Tu


Hometown: New Orleans
Undergrad: Harvard
Topics of Interest: music and service, spirituality and religion, geriatric medicine and long-term care, East Asian culture, gap years and travel.


Luke Wachsmuth 



I am an MS1 originally from Charlotte, NC. I moved to Cartersville, GA for high school and completed my undergraduate education at the University of Georgia. After graduating, I spent three years doing research, two of those at the National Institutes of Health. I’m excited to talk to prospective students about research, choosing a medical school, living in the south, and how awesome the people who make Duke such an amazing place are!

Westin Tom


Hometown: Mundelein, IL
Undergrad: University of Chicago
Topics of Interest: Duke curriculum, Student life, Durham/Triangle restaurants & food scene, transition from Chicago to Durham, LGBT climate.

Tori Wickenheisser

My name is Tori Wickenheisser and I am currently a 2nd year medical student from Cheshire, CT. I was a physiology and neurobiology major at the University of Connecticut. I graduated in 2016 and came straight to medical school, so if you have questions for someone who did not take time off, I’d love to answer them! I would also be happy to talk about moving out of state for the first time, having fun in Durham, adjusting to medical school etc. etc. I love to workout, take my work/life balance very seriously and would love to answer any questions about Duke Med!

Julian Xie

Greetings! I'm an MS2 in PCLT, born in England and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. I studied economics and a music minor at Duke. Here at Duke Med, I co-founded a student organization called Root Causes, which is dedicated to promoting sustainable food production and equitable food access through education, advocacy, and service. I'm happy to chat about connecting food and medicine, any questions about PCLT, political advocacy at Duke Med, and doing dual degrees since I'm in the midst of applying to MPP and MBA programs. I love playing music (participated in the Student Faculty Show - ask me about this!), cooking, gardening, biking, and putting exclamation points in emails!!!




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