meet the team (2021)

SONIA IYENGAR (SHE/HER/HERS) | CONFERENCE FOUNDER

Sonia is a third-year medical student at Michigan Medicine and a dual-degree MD/MPP candidate. With prior experiences organizing in the community and in politics, she hopes to center the needs of patients most marginalized by our systems and work toward developing innovative models of care to serve them. She is passionate about providing medical care to urban underserved communities, health economics, and building justice into health systems. Sonia aims to unite these interests with a career in public service. She is a proud APIDA womxn, a low-income student, and a Los Angeles native. You can find her venting (among other things) about soaring coffee prices and unnecessarily aggressive drivers.

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AURIANNA LAJAUNIE (SHE/HER/HERS) | CONFERENCE DIRECTOR

Aurianna is passionate about providing family and psychiatric medicine to urban underserved communities. After growing up in NYC and seeing stark differences in wealth and health outcomes in neighboring zip codes, she is dedicated to addressing the underlying causes of disease by focusing on social determinants of health and lifestyle medicine. She also hopes to practice integrative medicine to make holistic care accessible, affordable, and inclusive. Aurianna loves all forms of movement, including dance and yoga, reading a good book, and being in nature.

AURELIE TRAN (SHE/HER/HERS) | WORKSHOP DIRECTOR

Aurelie is a third-year medical student working towards developing more robust community-based care models in under-resourced areas to empower marginalized communities, and subvert healthcare and medical research practices to prioritize, honor, and structure itself in alignment with the expertise of those being served. Struggling with her own experiences in housing instability and supporting individuals experiencing homelessness in the Bay Area, CA, she hopes to focus particularly on stronger integration and improvement of street medicine and complex care management within the greater healthcare system. She is a proud cat mom and coffee/food enthusiast!

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SIERRA BENTLEY (SHE/HER/HERS)

"My name is Sierra, or those who know me professionally refer to me as Bentley. I had two realizations when I graduated high school: I was either going to be a female Neil deGrasse Tyson, or be an IT person (preferably without glasses). I get a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when I'm able to help someone who struggles with problems when it comes to their technology devices. Information Technology lets me connect with people by solving complex problems while not being classified as a robot (Google joke)." In her free time, Sierra can be found going to farmers markets and supporting small businesses. She also enjoys finding colorful rocks along Lake Michigan and taking trips to Mackinaw Island.

HANNAH CATZEN (SHE/HER/HERS)

Hannah is a second-year medical student at UMMS who is passionate about shifting power and resources to communities of color. She graduated from Wellesley College in 2011 with a double major in Music and Peace and Justice Studies. In the years since, she has conducted research in health equity and palliative care, worked on urban farms, and served as an organizer with Kavod House in Boston, mobilizing Jewish communities around food justice and anti-racism initiatives. She loves hosting dinner parties, swing dancing, making music, and riding her bike. Baltimore, Boston, Brooklyn—and now Ann Arbor—are all places she calls home. 

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NASHIA A. CHOUDHURY, MPH (SHE/HER/HERS)

Nashia is a public health professional and a social justice and health equity advocate living in Southeast Michigan. She completed her M.P.H. degree in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, and completed her B.S. in the Department of Health Sciences at Oakland University. Nashia’s interest in the field of public health stems from working with populations facing racial and ethnic disparities that often lead to low health equity in various communities due to the impact of social determinants of health. She seeks to continue efforts of breaking down these barriers to access by addressing social determinants of health needs in the metro Detroit area. In her free time, she can be found scouring the dessert menu at new restaurants while catching up with family and friends!

COLBY FOSTER (SHE/HER/HERS)

Colby is excited to partner with her fellow medical students to create a space where health equity and primary care are center stage. Uplifting patients and colleagues who are often unheard and marginalized is life-long work that she plans to engage and grow in as a medical student and future provider. She believes in the power of preventive medicine and is passionate about incorporating lifestyle medicine practices in her career, regardless of specialty. She cares about amplifying the field of primary care and showcasing its importance in caring for the whole patient and communities longitudinally. She loves to cook, do yoga, and FaceTime her sisters, and right now, her most favorite things are taking long walks and listening to podcasts! 

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ERICA LU (SHE/HER/HERS)

Erica is an aspiring 3D Character Animator at CG Spectrum who is passionate about expanding BIPOC and LGBTQ+ representation in entertainment. She believes in the power of storytelling and its ability to challenge the status quo, celebrate cultures, and provide healing to diverse audiences. Through film and digital media, Erica hopes to amplify the voices and narratives of marginalized populations. She is a full-time dog mom and plant mom who loves being active outdoors, or staying home and trying new crafts.

EMAN MUBARAK (SHE/HER/HERS)

Eman is a fourth-year medical student at University of Michigan Medical School. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Health and hopes to improve outcomes and quality of health care for marginalized patient populations, especially in under-resourced areas, both in the U.S. and abroad. She is interested in learning how medical professionals can become more active and effective advocates for their patients through a health justice and ethics-based approach.

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KYRA SAGAL (SHE/HER/HERS)

Kyra is a third-year medical student at UMMS who hopes to better understand how society contributes to systemic disease, how we can identify and mitigate these factors, and how we can prioritize equity in doing so. She is passionate about learning more in the public health and public policy fields, and aims to uplift the groups most underserved by the medical system. While home has been a moving target for Kyra, Philly will always be a special place.

GABRIELLA VanAKEN (SHE/HER/HERS)

Gabriella is a second-year student at the University of Michigan Medical School. Growing up in rural Michigan, she has come to understand how meager medical resources can often lead to health disparities in marginalized groups. Through her work investigating social and political factors that impact health outcomes, she has become especially passionate about removing barriers that prevent underserved communities from receiving equitable health care access. In her free time, Gabriella can be found exploring local coffee shops, listening to true crime podcasts, and enjoying a movie with her cats.

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KINSEY VEAR (SHE/HER/HERS)

Kinsey is a third-year medical student at the University of Michigan Medical School who is passionate about the power of cultural diversity and how it necessitates understanding, acknowledging, and engaging human beings from all walks of life on an interpersonal level. Growing up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, she is empowered by the value of community and understanding each one’s unique and diverse needs. She believes in meeting people where they’re at and providing a supportive environment to uplift the voices of those most marginalized within the healthcare system and beyond. More broadly, she values working with communities to advocate for more structural change to dismantle oppressive systems. She loves movement and nature in all their forms—including yoga, climbing, running, biking, hiking, swimming, and more!