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Faces of Orientation

Meet the people you will be seeing a lot of during Orientation Week. They will guide you through every nook and cranny at RWJMS. Your Orientation Team will be making sure your Orientation Week runs flawlessly, while your Peer Mentors will be guiding you throughout the daily activities of Orientation Week and throughout your first year, so get to know them!

If you have any questions, feel free to email

Orientation Team

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Orientation Co-Coordinator

Ellie Deianni

Hometown: Waldwick, NJ

Alma Mater: Ramapo College of New Jersey

Involvement in RWJMS: Orientation Team, RU Synapse Mentor, Reach Out and Read

Advice for M1s: Don't compare yourself to other people. All of you are here for a reason - trust yourself! Continue the hobbies you love while you're here, and try to explore new things as well. Bust most importantly, spend time getting to know your classmates, because they're going to be helping you cross the finish line!!!

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Orientation Co-Coordinator

Karen Noh

Hometown: Ridgewood, NJ

Alma Mater: Georgetown University

Involvement in RWJMS: Orientation Team, Promise Clinic Steering Committee, Research

Advice for M1s: Take a break before medical school starts! Go on a trip, spend time with your family and friends, or do absolutely nothing for a few weeks. You've worked hard to get here - you deserve and need to unwind before getting back to it.

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Orientation Co-Coordinator

Raadhika Kher

Hometown: Plainsboro, NJ

Alma Mater: Brown University

Involvement in RWJMS: Orientation Team, MSFC E-Board, Research, DISC, Reach Out and Read

Advice for M1s: Take time for yourself, whether that means doing an activity, spending time with a loved one, or just relaxing on your own! The long bits of studying are made easier, not harder, by taking breaks and making space for downtime.

Housing Co-Director & Peer Mentor

Avery Tamakloe

Hometown: Old Bridge, NJ

Alma Mater: Princeton University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic Urgent Care Team, RWJMS Wellness, Admissions Committee

Advice for M1s: P = MD

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Housing Co-Director

Taylor Chiang

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Alma Mater: Swarthmore College

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Sexuality and Gender Alliance Co-President, Reach Out and Read Co-President, Ultrasound Interest Group Vice President, Patients At/In Risk Elective, Distinction in Medical Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Advice for M1s: Take advantage of orientation to find new friends and build relationships! Med school can get hard and creating support systems will make it easier and more fun.

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Handbook Co-Director

Abhi Borad

Hometown: South Plainsfield, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Involvement in RWJMS: Cancer and Oncology Interest Group E-Board, Bioethics Interest Group E-Board, Interprofessional Educational Non-Credit Elective Co-Founder, Cancer and Oncology Non-Credit Elective Co-Founder, Caring Companions, DIBE, Research

Advice for M1s: Take medical school one day at a time and make time for yourself and the people you love. You will have more free time than you think - use it to keep pursuing your hobbies and passions.

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Handbook Co-Director & Peer Mentor

Marissa Carranza

Hometown: Bethlehem, PA

Alma Mater: University of Vermont

Involvement in RWJMS: White Coats for Black Lives, Curriculum Committee, Medical Students for Choice, Family Medicine Interest Group, Human Rights Initiative, Asylum Clinic, Promise Clinic Student Doctor

Advice for M1s: Remind yourself what part of medicine you are passionate about and follow that passion! School demands a lot of you and remembering what it is that drew you to this field will keep you sane and grounded during the difficult times.

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White Coat Co-Director

Eddie Lu

Hometown: Plainsboro, NJ

Alma Mater: University of California, Berkeley

Involvement in RWJMS: Alumni Association Student Ambassador, Student Interest Group in Neurology (SIGN) Co-President, HIPHOP Community Health Initiative (CHI) Project Outreach Coordinator, Caring Companions Initiative

Advice for M1s: M1 is a great time to explore your interests and engage in various activities. It’s easy to involve yourself in a lot of extracurriculars, but it's also very easy to burn out. My advice is therefore to know your limits, and make sure the things you take up are things that allow you to grow and explore what you love. By approaching your involvements in that way, it will be rewarding. Keep an open mind and stay curious. Focus on your growth and especially your wellbeing!

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White Coat Co-Director

Maureen Haque

Hometown: Plainsboro, NJ

Alma Mater: The College of New Jersey

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic Steering Committee (Specialty Care), Admissions Ambassador, Alumni Ambassador, American Medical Association (AMA) VP of Medical Education, American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) Community Outreach Director, Students Interested in Research (SIR) Co-President, RU Synapse Mentor, Course Representative for Microbiology, DILAH

Advice for M1s: Medical school is so much to take in at once - make sure to prioritize you and spend time doing things you love! Whether that's socializing with friends, exploring new places, developing your hobbies - it's so important to keep yourself grounded and feel connected to your community and support system. At the end of the day, remind yourself of how you got here and be proud of all that you have accomplished thus far.

Peer Mentors

Peer Mentor Coordinator

Justin Melendez

Hometown: Jersey City, NJ

Alma Mater: Seton Hall University

Involvement in RWJMS: LMSA Community Outreach, Social Chair, RU Synapse Mentor

Advice for M1s: I think it is very important to find a balance during your first year of medical school. While it is important to do well and pass your courses, you also need to prioritize your physical and mental health during the classes. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all the studying, so it is necessary to find an outlet for any stress that is built up by balancing your academic and social life.

Peer Mentor Coordinator

Bhargav Vemulapalli

Hometown: Montgomery, NJ

Alma Mater: Washington University in St. Louis

Involvement in RWJMS: Distinction in Global Health, President of Global Health Interest Group, President of Internal Medicine Interest Group, Vice President of Opioids NCE, HIPHOP Clinic Project Coordinator, Research

Advice for M1s: Enjoy that you have made it this far and stay interesting! It can be easy to fall into a routine of watching lecture, studying, and doing extracurricular work every day, but always make sure to take time for yourself and continue your hobbies. It is always important to take care of yourself and very possible to have a great work-life balance in medical school.

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Peer Mentor

Anoop Alla

Hometown: Parsippany NJ

Alma Mater: Georgia Tech

Involvement in RWJMS: RU Synapse, Caring Companions, Social Chair

Advice for M1s: You will have plenty of free time during the M1 year to hang out with friends and practice self-care. Make sure to take advantage of it!

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Peer Mentor

Erica Comsti

Hometown: Ocean Township, NJ

Alma Mater: Boston University

Involvement in RWJMS: RWJMS Vaccination Corps, HIPHOP STATS Coordinator, Admissions Ambassador, RU Synapse, Course Rep (Cardio)

Advice for M1s: Don’t take M1 too seriously — it’s P/F for a reason! Be kind to yourself, and don’t feel guilty about pursuing your interests, making friends, and doing things that make you happy. Before you can take care of any patients, you have to learn how to take care of yourself first!

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Peer Mentor

Clare Flanagan

Hometown: New Providence, NJ

Alma Mater: Boston College

Involvement in RWJMS: Miles of Smiles E-Board, OB/GYN Interest Group E-Board, BLAST E-Board, Student Ambassadors, Histology Course Representative, Non-Credit Electives (Peds, Sports Medicine, Narrative Medicine, Anatomy), Student Vaccine Corps, Women's Health Institute Research

Advice for M1s: Go to office hours and review sessions! Repetition is key in medical school, and you can never hear something too many times!

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Peer Mentor

Mehdi Husaini

Hometown: East Windsor, NJ

Alma Mater: Monmouth University

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Professionalism Committee Chair, Student Government Association Fundraising and Finance Chair, Promise Clinic Steering Committee, Student Doctor and Volunteer Interpreter, Promise Clinic Student Volunteer, Patient Liaison Advocacy and Navigation, Neurodevelopment and Cognitive Function Research

Advice for M1s: Do one fun thing each day! It's so easy to get caught up trying to learn every single concept and fact for each exam, and finding time each day to do one thing for yourself can be so helpful in breaking up the day and giving yourself some time to breathe. It doesn't have to be time-consuming or fancy-- doing a fun activity every day can simply mean watching a movie or going somewhere with family or friends, but you'll see that finding time for yourself keeps you grounded and reminds you that medical school can be fun!

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Peer Mentor

Athriya Kumar

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: AWS VP, Caring Companions, Reach Out and Read

Advice for M1s: Make sure you find time for your hobbies and activities you enjoy.

Peer Mentor

Tanushree Laud

Hometown: South Brunswick, NJ

Alma Mater: New York University

Involvement in RWJMS: BEN Co-President, AMSA Wellness Subcommittee, BLAST E-Board, PCM Course Representative

Advice for M1s: Explore your interests and take risks! M1 is the time to find out what you like or don't like and grow from your experiences, whether that be joining that interest group or shadowing that doctor or just going on that impromptu Wawa run. Figure out what makes you happy and which hoagie you'll probably not get next time. And remember to stay hydrated!!

Peer Mentor

Alexandra Montesinos

Hometown: Queens, NY

Alma Mater: Hunter College

Involvement in RWJMS: LMSA, Wilderness Medicine Interest Group

Advice for M1s: Try to make time to do the non medical things you love doing.
Peer Mentor

Uma Sarwadnya

Hometown: Millburn, NJ

Alma Mater: Washington and Lee University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic, Medical Students for Choice

Advice for M1s: It might take some time to find your way, and even then it can change from block to block! Don't be afraid to reach out to people!

Peer Mentor

Kevin Wang

Hometown: Cherry Hill, NJ

Alma Mater: Vanderbilt University

Involvement in RWJMS: APAMSA President, Student Ambassadors, Research with Department of ENT

Advice for M1s: Medical school is going to be busy, so be sure to take advantage of the time you have to do what makes you happy. Don’t feel as if you need to spend every moment studying for an exam, conducting research, or taking on 50 leadership positions. When you have spare time, go for a walk, hang out with friends, go to a bar in New Brunswick, or whatever else you enjoy doing.

Peer Mentor

Jonathan Brisbon

Hometown: Hackensack, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic - Community Outreach, Treasurer of Urology Interest Group, Events Coordinator - SNMA

Advice for M1s: Always make time for what you feel passionate about. Remember that you are a person outside of medical school.

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Peer Mentor

Nehar Damle

Hometown: West Windsor, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Government Association (Treasurer), Admissions Ambassadors, Interprofessional Education Non-Credit Elective (Co-Founder)

Advice for M1s: The people you meet and the experiences you have will not only shape you into better physicians but will also impact your personal growth! Stay true to who you are and be open to new people and experiences.

Peer Mentor

Joshua Guardia

Hometown: Clifton, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers School of Graduate Studies - Newark

Involvement in RWJMS: LISTOS, LMSA

Advice for M1s: Take the time to relax and go out and have fun, stick to your hobbies

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Peer Mentor

Deshae Jenkins

Hometown: Marlton, NJ

Alma Mater: Stanford University

Involvement in RWJMS: SGA VP of Multicultural Affairs, Promise Clinic Student Doctor and Interpreter, Laboratory Steering Committee, Student Curriculum Reform Fellow, Admissions Committee

Advice for M1s: Never lose sight of your passions, interests and initial motivations for coming to medical school. Stay true to yourself and don't be afraid to carve out your own path!

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Peer Mentor

Kelsey Larkin

Hometown: Ramsey, NJ

Alma Mater: University of South Carolina

Involvement in RWJMS: Cancer and Oncology Interest Group E-Board, Caring Companions, Anatomy Memorial Committee, Rutgers Track and Field

Advice for M1s: Stay true to yourself and your passions - make time for the things you enjoy outside of medicine! Medical school is a wonderful place, but it can be easy to get lost in the sea of incredibly impressive classmates. Remember that you are here for a reason and many people believe in your abilities. Find what works for you and stick to it! Make time for outside activities and don't lose who you are outside of medicine.

Peer Mentor

Erica Levin

Hometown: Lawrenceville, NJ

Alma Mater: The College of New Jersey

Involvement in RWJMS: Ambassadors, Caring Companions, Jewish Medical Student Society Co-President, Reach Out and Read Co-President, RWJMS Research

Advice for M1s: M1 is filled with lots of learning experiences and personal challenges- take each class to learn new things and not just to study for the test! You have MADE IT! You are in medical school. Take a breath, take it in, and enjoy every part of this incredible journey.

Peer Mentor

Jessica Nagy

Hometown: Verona, NJ

Alma Mater: Cornell University

Involvement in RWJMS: Mind Body Medicine, AMSA Wellness

Advice for M1s: Make sure to invest time in your happiness! Medical school is stressful and it always will be. However, you will be best equipped to handle taking care of your patients if you are taking care of yourself! Take walks, enjoy friends, and spend time with your family. School is pass/fail for a reason!

Peer Mentor

Uri Shalmon

Hometown: Highland Park, NJ

Alma Mater: Yeshiva University

Involvement in RWJMS: Arbor Vitae Literary Society, RU Synapse, Mind-Body Medicine

Advice for M1s: There is time enough for anything, as long as it means enough to you.

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Peer Mentor

Michelle Zhao

Hometown: Marlboro, NJ

Alma Mater: Rice University

Involvement in RWJMS: Human Rights Initiative, HIPHOP Steering Committee, Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Distinction in Global Health, American Medical Association/Medical Society of New Jersey, Research

Advice for M1s: Your M1 year will be a unique experience, but you will still have free time to relax and have fun throughout the year. Everyone in the RWJMS community is there to support and help you— don’t be afraid to reach out to Student Affairs, professors, Cog Skills, your peers, etc. if you ever have questions, need help, or just want to talk. Take advantage of our community socially as well and there are many opportunities to get to know people through clubs and social events. Our orientation and peer mentor team are here for you throughout the year, and we are all so excited to meet you soon!

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Peer Mentor

Rebecca Chanin

Hometown: Titusville, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: Caring Companions E-board, IMIG Co-President, RU Synapse, Course Representative

Advice for M1s: Be yourself and remember to smile! You have worked your whole life to get here, do not forget to enjoy it!

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Peer Mentor

Puja Deshpande

Hometown: Livingston, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: Family Medicine Interest Group Co-President, Social Chair, Project Sunshine Co-Events Coordinator, Ophthalmology Interest Group Treasurer, Medical Students for a Sustainable Future, Admissions Ambassador

Advice for M1s: It is definitely okay to take days off from school to focus on yourself, your friends, and your family. Medical school is tough, but it is still a time to enjoy.

Peer Mentor

Monica Hsu

Hometown: Demarest, NJ

Alma Mater: Northwestern University

Involvement in RWJMS: Women's Health Institute, Medical Mandarin, Vaccine Clinic

Advice for M1s: Find time to do things for yourself! Mental health is important!!

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Peer Mentor

Juliana Kim

Hometown: Montgomery, NJ

Alma Mater: Brown University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Bioethics Interest Group/Distinction, Urology Interest Group, Admissions Ambassador, Visual Learning NCE

Advice for M1s: The pace of M1 is very fast, with lots of exams seemingly barreling at you. It's easy to get lost within the study material and exams, but make sure to remember that everything we are learning has a clinical application that can potentially save a patient's life. This helped keep me motivated throughout the year. Also, take time to relax. Medical school is a loooonnggg marathon and not a sprint. You have to take care of yourself before you take care of your patients.

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Peer Mentor

Cooper Lathrop

Hometown: Mendham, NJ

Alma Mater: University of San Diego

Involvement in RWJMS: Admissions Ambassador, VMott Surgical Society Shadowing Coordinator, VP Vascular Surgery Club, Summer Research Fellow

Advice for M1s: Everybody has a different way of studying for exams that works for them. Find what works for you and don't worry if other people do things differently!

Peer Mentor

Courtney Micallef

Hometown: Saddle River, NJ

Alma Mater: Wake Forest University

Involvement in RWJMS: Course Rep, RU Synapse Mentor, Anesthesiology Interest Group, Anesthesiology Research

Advice for M1s: It sounds so cliché but just enjoy it! It will be a year of a lot of changes, new faces and new challenges, which can seem overwhelming and scary at first, but it does all work out in the end. You will work super hard, but you will also have a lot of fun.

Peer Mentor

Biana Sanabria

Hometown: West Orange, NJ

Alma Mater: Montclair State University

Involvement in RWJMS: Dermatology Interest Group President, Biomedical Entrepreneurship Group VP of Marketing, Student Ambassador, Course Representative (Clinical Foundations of Diagnostics and Therapeutics)

Advice for M1s: Follow your passion and explore different opportunities. Make sure you make time for yourself and most importantly, believe in yourself!

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Peer Mentor

Luke Smith

Hometown: Mountain Lakes, NJ

Alma Mater: Boston College

Involvement in RWJMS: HIPHOP CHI - PAIR (Patients At/In Risk) Elective Coordinator, Pediatric Interest Group, Miles of Smiles, Research at Child Health Institute of NJ

Advice for M1s: Never be afraid to ask questions! Medical school is all about learning and you aren't expected to know everything going in - even if it feels like some of your classmates do. Also don't hesitate to ask about things unrelated to coursework (i.e. "What the heck is HIPHOP?", "Should I be attending lunch lectures every day?", "Where are the best bagels near campus?").

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