TEAM: JeffCRISP

Our Team

Gillian Bach
Team Captain

I’m originally from Atlanta, GA, where I attended The Westminster Schools before heading to Stanford University. At Stanford, the only thing I was sure I wanted to do was sing, so I quickly joined Stanford’s Mixed Company, an a cappella group, and started studying engineering. Then Stanford’s Pacific Free Clinic (PFC), which provides care to the urban underserved of San Jose, transformed my life. In working with and through PFC’s patients—initially as a health educator and then as a preclinical volunteer—I had found my passion: medicine. So, I changed my major, graduating from Stanford with a BS in Biology conferred with departmental honors. And I continued to stay involved with PFC, ultimately serving as one of four student managers. I was then fortunate enough to be accepted to Jefferson Medical College, where I am currently in my second year, and still singing with the Jefferson Arrhythmias. 

Nithin Paul
Team Member

Born in the southern-most state of India and with my father being in the Air Force, I spent the first decade of my life crisscrossing this giant, diverse country, being exposed to a rich variety of cultures. However, a chance job offer sent my family on our biggest move yet across the world to America. I was only eleven then and life has been nothing short of living a dream since. I was very fortunate to receive an enriching education at the University of Delaware where I was able to study Biology, Political Science and Liberal Arts on campus as well as abroad in Brazil and Ghana. Post-graduation, I spent a year working on a campaign to bring solar energy to un-electrified villages in India. Realizing my passion for global health, I came back to medical school eager to learn a valuable skill-set that will help me follow my dreams. 

 

I was born and raised in Iran, and moved to the US when I was 16, arriving 2 days before my junior year of high school started (without knowing much English!). It was an eye opening experience. Once I became acclimated to my new home, I was better able to begin exploring my own interests: I attended the University of Delaware and graduated with a BA in Biology with departmental honors. Next, I took a year off to backpack around Europe alone; I love traveling! I have had the opportunity to visit over 20 countries, and still crave exploring even more. Upon my return, I started my first year of medical school at Jefferson Medical College, where I have continued to pursue my passion for travel: I volunteered at Hospital Metropolitano in Nicaragua over the summer. Since then, I have cultivated the chef, the photographer and the musician in me.

Sina Vahedi
Team Member

I grew up in rural central India and New Delhi. After finishing high school there, I left home and volunteered at the Baha’i World Center in Israel for two years. Then I went to Lake Forest College for my bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry where I graduated with honors and distinction in my senior thesis. After college I spent a few years as a chemist synthesizing organic electronic materials in Chicago before moving to Baltimore where I worked as a medical interpreter and helped set up children and junior–youth classes in my neighborhood. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, photography, reading, exploration, and racquet sports.

Team Essay

Lying on the stretcher, writhing in pain, there is a man. Absolutely no one is paying him any attention. This invisible man, a laborer by the look of his well worn hands, needs just a few hundred rupees to become visible again. I can hardly believe it.

This is the image that stuck with me about hospitals. I hated them.

Each of us has our own story that inculcated in us a shared motivation to eradicate such disparity in healthcare. Between the four of us, we have been blessed with the opportunity to live in, and travel to, over 30 different countries. Our travels have challenged us to understand and adapt to new environments, to ask for and accept help, to overcome cultural barriers and biases, and to push ourselves out of our comfort zone. Forced to confront our naive ethnocentricity, we replaced it with an attitude of receptivity and humility, no longer saying, “This is what you need to do,” but rather, asking: “How can we help you reach your goals?”

This change in outlook has been augmented by lessons learned in the field. At Hospital Metropolitano in Managua, Nicaragua, we saw the far-reaching and multiplying effect of cultivating local resources and talent. The hospital provides world-class care, not only because of the tools available, but also because of the exceptional staff. These healthcare professionals are predominantly natives of Nicaragua, trained locally. The excellent quality of care at the hospital is being used as a model to create better hospitals throughout Nicaragua. We believe that empowering local talent is the keystone for any successful, sustainable initiative.

A project providing solar power infrastructure to tribal and rural regions in north east India provided more valuable lessons. The project was seen as a success, but follow-up showed that a large number of community run distribution centers were failing. Analysis of the strategies of the successful centers, and evaluation of the unsuccessful ones-led by one of our team members-helped to revitalize the failing centers. We saw the importance of data driven followup, evaluation, and constant support.

Whether in India, Nicaragua, or stateside-working in East Baltimore to facilitate community ownership of weekly children’s classes that provide a sanctuary from drug activity, or providing health education to the urban underserved of San Jose-our team’s work with diverse cultures has been our best teacher. We have seen the importance of data-driven evaluations for identifying obstacles to progress, of community ownership for sustainable growth of programs, and the exponential power of training local talent. Health plays a pivotal role in the empowerment of people, and working to eradicate disparities in care is essential for global development.

We would like to serve with Timmy Global Health to bring about measurable improvements in healthcare. This would be a great opportunity for us to test our ideas, to learn from the knowledge and experience of the people in the field, and, most importantly, to better prepare ourselves for our future efforts in global health.