Payal AggarwalTeam Captain
Being an Indian American, I grew up visiting India every year. It was during these trips that I began to see the significant disparities between my life and the underprivileged in India. My parents strongly believed in giving back and made sure I accompanied them when they distributed food or gave blankets to the poor in India. These early experiences shaped my desire to serve my community and I found myself volunteering through the American Cancer Society throughout middle and high school. In college, NYU’s Office of Student Activities gave me the opportunity to go on six service trips and be a four-year board member through Alternative Breaks and be President of Habitat for Humanity. These experiences were my greatest learning experiences. Following graduation, I enrolled in TouroCOM, where I hope to instill a commitment to community service in my position as vice president of the Student Government Association.
Kaushik GovindarajuTeam Member
Kaushik Govindaraju is a first year medical student at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York. He was born in Hyderabad, India and grew up in Las Vegas, NV before completing his undergraduate education at Northwestern University in the Chicago area. During undergrad he was involved with several social justice groups, including the Northwestern University Conference on Human Rights, which is the largest student–run undergraduate conference on human rights in the country. Kaushik was also the co-president of the Student Health Advisory Committee, a platform for students to voice their opinions regarding campus health issues. While at Northwestern, he also conducted research in the field of early–onset Alzheimer‘s disease. Kaushik looks forward to employing his passion for developing and synthesizing ideas for the betterment of global health in the communities with which he has worked and which he will work with in the future.
Westley Reinhart-McMillanTeam Member
I am a first year medical student at the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine in New York. Prior to Touro, I attended Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, where I graduated with honors in Biochemistry and Biology. I began volunteering at Dalhousie and immediately saw the positive ramifications of my actions. It influenced me to continue finding ways to improve the community and lives of others. Since then, I have volunteered alongside physicians across North America, provided pre-ambulatory care as an EMT, helped rebuild communities ravished by Hurricane Katrina and delivered care to the medically underserved in Peru. After Dalhousie, I worked with physiatrists to coordinate the implementation of best practices that would improve health outcomes for individuals with spinal cord injury. I believe that my desire to provide care to the disadvantaged, coupled with implementation experience, makes me a strong link in a chain eagerly anticipating the Global Health Challenge.
Celsa TonelliTeam Member
Growing up, I volunteered along side my parents in local soup kitchens. I learned the importance of serving others at a very young age. In high school, I took the next step by traveling to volunteer at women’s shelters and Native American reservations in Oklahoma, and summer camps in Detroit, Michigan. At the University of Oregon, I worked as the Philanthropy Chair on the Panhellenic Council to coordinate the philanthropic events for the year. Since moving to New York, I have worked as a tutor and teacher for children in the Harlem community. Living and working at the International House of New York, I have had the opportunity to interact with fellow graduate students from around the world, and to learn about their countries and cultures. Finally, as the President of Touro COM’s AMA-Medical Student Section, I work to educate the Harlem community about medical concerns and health care.
Osteopathic physicians learn on the first day of medical school that the central pillar of osteopathic medicine is that the body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance. As future osteopathic medical practitioners, we are taught to view patients holistically, taking into account environment and lifestyle to maximize the capacity of the body to adjust and respond to these factors. Rather than sequester this philosophy to an individual, we believe that it can be elaborated to encompass an entire community. We have unparalleled opportunities to influence the way the underserved can learn to be self-sustaining, much like the human body is capable of initiating changes in the face of its own adversities.
Each individual in our team has had the opportunity to be a catalyst for change through various experiences serving the underserved. Westley spent time in Biloxi, Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina where he witnessed devastation amongst the neighborhoods and the rampant hopelessness amongst the disenfranchised. It made him realize that direct medical treatment is a quick-fix solution for a long-term problem. Similarly, Kaushik realized the necessity of social programs while volunteering in his hometown of Hyderabad, India, at a clinic for women with HIV. There, he grasped the importance of self-sustaining clinics that are tailored to serve the individual needs of each patient. As a team, we realize that sustainable healthcare requires appropriate infrastructure, proper sanitation and social programs.
To effectively address a social issue, the impacted community must be involved so that the initiative is sustainable. Payal learned this during an Alternative Breaks service trip to a village in Curacavi, Chile where she worked with a group of volunteers to build homes and a community recycling center. In order to sustain the recycling center, she went door-to-door teaching the residents how to maintain and utilize the center. This trip prompted her to become the International Service Chair of Alternative Breaks in which she helped coordinate twenty two service experiences. Also, Celsa’s commitment to international leadership is demonstrated through her involvement with the International Leadership program at the International House of New York. This program taught participants about leadership, which she used in her position as President of Touro College’s AMA chapter. She learned that communication across cultures and the value of understanding the culture of the people is critical in helping the impacted community.
Our team is confident that we will successfully serve any community with which we work because of our previous experience together in Cuzco, Peru. As medical students, we spent ten days working in clinics and orphanages in Cuzco. At the clinics and orphanages, we provided physical exams and utilized osteopathic techniques to provide efficient treatment where affordable access to care was limited. In Peru, much like the sum of a self-sufficient community is greater than its parts, we realized that the sum of our collective experiences make us the ideal team. In collaboration with the Timmy Global Health Challenge, our team hopes to further engage ourselves in active citizenship.