Barbara was born in Beirut, Lebanon and she moved to the USA in 2003. Growing up, she frequently found herself lost in the tumultuous airs of war, as bullets were ringing by and rockets fell around her home. When the streets of Lebanon filled with victims, she witnessed the medical professionals in her family rushing to their rescue, opening up their clinics to care for the sick and the wounded, sometimes without electricity, and she vowed to complete her own journey dedicated to serving the ill when they need it the most. Barbara studied Biology at the University of Texas at Dallas, and subsequently pursued a Master of Science in Biotechnology at Johns Hopkins University. She is currently a medical student in her third year at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, and she hopes to become an OB/Gyn.
Emily is an energetic beach girl from Virginia Beach, Virginia. She went to MIT and studied biological engineering with a minor in business management. While working in the biomedical industry, she realized that she wanted to explore the political realm of health industry, and pursued her MPH at Dartmouth. Her thesis focused on the health outcomes of mothers and newborns in perinatal home visits programs by nurses and trained professionals. She then decided to go to medical school back home in Virginia and is currently a third year student at VCU. She is active in the student government and was recently elected president. She has been working on various research projects and she volunteers in the community. Emily also participates in an honors program assisting underserved populations internationally and locally. She is interested in working with pediatric populations in the future.
Although born and raised in Cape May, New Jersey, Jeff considers himself a good ole southern boy at heart, spending most of his life in Williamsburg, Virginia. He passed the majority of his adolescent years in an ominous battle, with nothing but a golf club in hand, preparing for an undoubtable failure as a professional golfer. After years of defeat, he realized it would prove more valuable to battle fires, leading him to the local fire station. Through this experience, Jeff fortuitously discovered his passion for medicine and the privilege that the title of physician carries. While living in Guatemala, he witnessed the pure, inhumane disparities that are all too prevalent around the world. Motivated by his passion and experiences, he is now preparing to fight a different battle, one in which defeat will not be an option. In his free-time, Jeff enjoys reading, hiking and jamming with his buddies in their rock band, Bacchus Rawkus.
Supraja Rajagopalan is an Iowa native and a third year medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University. From a young age, Supraja was taught that with a dedicated focus and a determination to succeed impossibilities become possible. Her passion for participating in the global community began with her family’s yearly trips to India, and their constant emphasis that we all share in the responsibility to care for one another. Supraja plans on pursuing a career as an OBGYN, and hopes to use these skills to empower women globally. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, learning new languages, and curling up with her adorable kitties and some Tolstoy.
Emily decided to become a healer at a young age, as she traveled to developing countries with her parents while they volunteered with organizations such as Physicians for Peace, where she visited small villages in Nepal and hospitals full of cats in Egypt. She then expanded her diverse view of the world’s medical system while studying Biological Engineering at MIT, where she worked with Literacy Bridge, a non-profit organization focused on education in Ghana to develop the “Talking Book,” a listening/recording device used for teaching in schools. Her passion for healing led her to MIT, where she obtained her MPH, and further along into medicine, where she strived to assist underserved populations internationally with a medical mission trip to Pinares, Honduras and nationally, volunteering at homeless shelters and investing her clinical time in a free clinic.
Barbara grew up dodging bullets in Beirut, Lebanon. She recalls falling asleep while heavy artillery resounded. Ten years later, she moved to America seeking a more purposeful life, a heartbroken immigrant aspiring to become a physician. She believes witnessing trauma unfold in the streets where she had played helped her turn helplessness into humaneness. She joined the United States Air Force in medical school in part so she could practice medicine around the world, and be more actively involved in disaster relief missions, education, and the vital support of communities worldwide. She dedicated 4 years of her life to cancer research, her efforts culminating in a fellowship to complete her Masters of Science in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University. She hopes her work at the National Cancer Institute will lead to decreasing the burden of the disease worldwide. Through her medical career she hopes to continue to give of herself, to bring healthcare to those who need it, whether they are in Virginia, Syria, or in Sudan.
Supraja and Jeff have been affecting change since going to Guatemala in 2009, driven by an inescapable principle that privilege carries responsibility. Sharing in the struggles of their generous and hardworking Guatemalan friends, they fulfilled their mandate to lessen the tremendous inequalities they were born immune to. In their first year in medical school, they created Embajadores de Salud and partnered with the Highland Support Project to take 12 medical students to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where they provided two weeks of women’s health seminars. They carry the faces of the strong, determined women who attended forever etched in their minds, and beam as they tell stories of teaching women the biology behind their menstrual cycles, delivering them of the superstition that God was punishing them.
Experiences like this solidify our belief that we have the power to halt the cycle of inequality in information and access. Through our own fortunes and our education we are duty-bound and determined to enact positive change. This challenge is an opportunity to fulfill the promise of using our medical knowledge to aid all those who need it.