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 RWJMSOrientationTeam@gmail.com

ORIENTATION TEAM

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Orientation Co-Coordinator

KATE KIM

Hometown: Chatham, NJ

Alma Mater: Georgetown University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Admissions Ambassador, AMSA MEDtalks E-Board, Health Policy Non-Credit Elective Co-Founder

Advice for M1s: Try to approach your M1 year with an open mind! My best piece of advice would be to eliminate any preconceived notions of what you expect medical school to be like—take each day at a time, take advantage of the resources that are your peers, and never be afraid to jump headfirst into new experiences! 

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Orientation Co-Coordinator

ESTHER CHOI

Hometown: Harrington Park, NJ

Alma Mater: Princeton University

Involvement in RWJMS: Ambassadors Executive Member, APAMSA, Project Sunshine

Advice for M1s: Trust the process - it is so easy to get swept up with everything going on and what people are doing around you. But with time, you will find your groove, find your people, and find study habits that work for you! The adjustment period can be hard, but remember that you are not in it alone and you have a community here to support you!

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Housing Co-Director & Peer Mentor

JOSEPH HAWES

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Alma Mater: THE Howard University

Involvement in RWJMS: Ambassadors, SNMA eboard, DISC, opioid NCE, Orientation team, PCM ball club

Advice for M1s: I would advise you to really meet all of your classmates and get active in the school. Everyone is going to medical school for the first time and has different resources and study strategies that may help you.

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ALEX CASCAIS

Orientation Co-Coordinator

Hometown: Mendham, NJ

Alma Mater: The University of Massachussetts-Amherst

Involvement in RWJMS: Orientation Team, PRSIG

Advice for M1s: Stay interesting - continue your hobbies, pursue your passions, and enjoy time away from coursework. Print out your AMCAS "hobbies and activities" section and put it somewhere to remind yourself what it means to be you.

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MIKE NICOLARO

Housing Co-Director & Peer Mentor

Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers New Brunswick 

Involvement in RWJMS: HIPHOP Research/New Initiative Coordinator, Promise Clinic Communications committee, Social Chair, Course Representative for Immunology

Advice for M1s: Find your flow and balance with both life and academics as early as possible! The quicker you find your best functional balance, the easier time you will have during M1. Your peers are your biggest resource as well!

GABRIELLE MENDES

Handbook Co-Director

Hometown: Scotch Plains, NJ

Alma Mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: American Medical Women's Association (AMWA), Promise Clinic

Advice for M1s: Try not to worry too much about what others are doing in terms of studying, socializing, networking, etc. and focus on what works best for you. Gaining perspective from others can be helpful, but try to remember that everyone's situations are different; as someone smart once said, comparison is the thief of joy! So be kind to yourself and try your best in whatever form works well for you.

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Handbook Co-Director

NISHALI SHAH

Hometown: Freehold, NJ

Alma Mater: Tufts University

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Ambassador, Promise Clinic Specialty Care Member, JED Task Force, Research

Advice for M1s: Make sure to take breaks and spend time doing things that you enjoy! Whether that is hanging out with friends/family, spending time outdoors, or catching up on your favorite show - it is so important to take care of yourself!

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White Coat Co-Coordinator & Peer Mentor

ERIN COLLIER

Hometown: Toms River, NJ

Alma Mater: Fordham University

Involvement in RWJMS: STATS Coordinator, Student Ambassador, RU Synapse, Mentor through the RWJ AIDS program

Advice for M1s: Get involved in things that you are passionate about and spend time learning outside of the classroom, because those experiences are often the most meaningful!

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White Coat Co-Coordinator & Peer Mentor

DARBY OLEX-MEMOLI

Hometown: Neptune City, NJ

Alma Mater: University of Delaware

Involvement in RWJMS: RUSynapse, Admissions Ambassador, Reach Out and Read, Pediatrics Interest Group

Advice for M1s: Be sure to make time for yourself! It is so easy to get wrapped up in everything going on during M1, but you should always make time to do something for yourself everyday. Whether it be going to the gym, reading a book, or catching up on a tv show, allotting this time for yourself each day will help you to stay sane throughout M1!

PEER MENTORS

Taylor Corsi

Peer Mentor Co-Director

Hometown: Bridgewater, NJ

Alma mater: Lafayette University

Involvement in RWJMS: Course Representative, Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy Ambassador, Admissions Ambassador, American Medical Women's Association Co-President and Women's Health Elective Co-Director, American Medical Students Association Medtalks and Anatomy Memorial Committee, Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Gender and Sexuality Awareness Week Co-Coordinator

Advice for M1s: It can be easy to compare yourself and your involvements/successes to those around you but stay true to your passions, interests, and own journey! This experience is challenging in and of itself without the added pressure of competing in a race you sometimes devise in your own head.

Naweed Karimi

Peer Mentor Co-Director

Hometown: Somerset, NJ

Alma mater: Rutgers University (Go Knights!)

Involvement in RWJMS: I am part of the Student Government Association as Social Chair for the Class of 2023. I am also a RWJMS Ambassador!

Advice for M1s: Never feel bad about making time for yourself. Go take that gym break, watch that TV show, and spend time with your friends. Burnout is a real phenomenon in medical school, and not prioritizing your emotional and mental health can make the experience more grueling than it should be. Do a little something every day that brings you joy.

Neeha Pathan

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Denville, NJ

Alma mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: Health Literacy Committee, BLAST Anatomy

Advice for M1s: Try to get involved with things that are really meaningful to you! It’ll remind you why you’re going through this process when you’re burnt out, frustrated, or ready to give up.

Alexa Altchek

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Livingston, NJ

Alma mater: Harvard University

Involvement in RWJMS: SGA VP of Wellness and Advising, Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Course Representative (Structure and Function)

Advice for M1s: As long as you look at the calendar and plan in advance, you can make time for anything you want during your M1 year. Make sure to make some time for friends and family!

Daisy Reinoso

Peer Mentor

Hometown: New York, NY

Alma mater: Fordham University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic (Communications Steering Committee), LMSA

Advice for M1s: Find a study buddy or a small group to study with because you cannot know everything, but together you may be able to figure things out!

Lauren Berger

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Hammonton, NJ

Alma mater: Princeton University 

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Government Association (Treasurer), Ambassador Executive, COVID-19 Telemedicine Initiative

Advice for M1s: What you get out of the medical school experience is truly based on what you put into it. Getting to know your peers, involving yourself in the community, and attending various events held by the school truly enriches your learning experience and makes it more fun. Speaking of fun, hone in on those time management skills you learned throughout your pre-medical years and you'll be able to reserve plenty of time for your family, friends, and hobbies that aren't studying!

Michael Otoo

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Eastampton, NJ

Alma mater: Rice University

Involvement in RWJMS: Social Chair, Promise Clinic Student Doctor, LMSA

Advice for M1s: Figure out how you study best. People will live and die by Anki while other people learn best from making their own study guides or charts. Find what works for you in medical school without stressing out too much first year.

Priyanka Patel

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ

Alma mater: Rutgers University- New Brunswick

Involvement in RWJMS: Students Interested in Neurology (SIGN), American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), RU Synapse, Mind Body Medicine

Advice for M1s: Don't be afraid to reach out when you need it! You're not alone, other people are also adjusting, and you can lean on each other for support. Medical school can be stressful at times, but it's incredibly rewarding too!

Dhiraj Peddu

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: East Brunswick, NJ

Alma mater: Vanderbilt University

Involvement in RWJMS: Social Chair, Project Sunshine (Event Chair), Distinction in Medical Innovation and Entrepreneurship, AAPI

Advice for M1s: You only get out of your medical school experience what you actively decide to put in, so don't be afraid to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Badal Sojitra

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Colonia, NJ

Alma mater: Rutgers University - New Brunswick

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Government Association - VP of Multicultural Affairs, Promise Clinic Student Doctor

Advice for M1s: As you move through med school, the amount of free time you have will go down and the amount of work will go up, so make your M1 year experience a time you can look back on fondly and without regrets down the road.

Jake Drobner

Peer Mentor

Hometown: Englewood, NJ

Alma mater: Columbia University

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Curriculum Committee, Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Emergency Medicine Interest Group, Opioid NCE Coordinator, Miles of Smiles

Advice for M1s: Take care of yourself! Everyone functions differently, so find your own personal balance between studying and the other (equally important!) non-school things you like to do. Exercise, eat well, sleep a lot— your brain will thank you and you’ll be happier :)

Vineeta Maddali

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Bernardsville, NJ

Alma mater: Boston University

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Ambassador, AAPI, Family Medicine Interest Group

Advice for M1s: Never doubt yourself, you belong to be here. Keep an open mind, explore your passions, meet new people, and don't forget to enjoy yourself along the way!

Stephanie Smyczek

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Edison, NJ

Alma mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: Ambassador Executive, Social Chair, Arbor Vitae (Co-VP and Blog Manager), RU Synapse

Advice for M1s: Don't stress out over acing every exam (pre-clinical years are Pass/Fail for a reason). Learn the material well and do your best on each test, but remember to take breaks for yourself to relax and have fun. Don't feel guilty about taking a night or a day off because your happiness and your wellness are just as important as studying the material.

James Chapman

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Orange, Connecticut

Alma mater: University of Connecticut

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Admission Ambassador, RU Synapse, BLAST Anatomy, Miles of Smiles

Advice for M1s: Get to know your classmates and faculty through courses and fun activities! Make time to stay active, connect with old friends and do things you love. Study hard, but you will likely have more time than you think. Welcome to RWJMS, enjoy!

Oscar Dawson

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Summit, NJ

Alma mater: TCNJ

Involvement in RWJMS: Course Rep (Histology), Social Chair

Advice for M1s: Attend an interest group if you have even the slightest interest. Our organizations do an amazing job bringing in guest speakers and the talks are typically catered!

Sarah Tian

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Alma mater: Princeton University

Involvement in RWJMS: Reach Out and Read (Co-Pres) , APAMSA (Treasurer), Ambassador, Course Rep

Advice for M1s: Don't forget to make time for yourself -- spend time with friends and family, do things that you love, treat yourself, and have fun!

Saloni Jain

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Edison, NJ

Alma mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: Student Ambassador, PrevMed (Co-Pres), Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Interest Group (Treasurer), AAPI (VP), RU Synapse

Advice for M1s: Always remember to make time for yourself and spend time with your family and friends!

Dane Pizzo

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Frenchtown, NJ

Alma mater: Virginia Tech / Georgetown University

Involvement in RWJMS: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Interest Group (Co-President), Orthopedic Surgery Interest Group (Co-President)

Advice for M1s: There are many paths you can take to get to the same destination. What works for someone else may not be what works for you, so find your way independent of what others do.

Sean Doherty

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Southborough, MA

Alma mater: Vanderbilt University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic, Miles of Smiles, Internal Medicine Interest Group

Advice for M1s: Find time during M1 year for whatever hobbies and activities you love, it will help you stay true to yourself!

Sharanya Bhatheja

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Princeton, NJ

Alma mater: Carnegie Mellon University

Involvement in RWJMS: AAPI E-Board, BLAST E-Board, Student Ambassador

Advice for M1s: Use the first few courses to find a study/life balance! Work hard but also remember M1 flies by, so make sure you take time for yourself, people you care about, and things that make you happy each week!

Candice Dunn

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Sicklerville, NJ

Alma mater: Duke University

Involvement in RWJMS: RWJMS Ambassadors, AMSA: RUSynapse and Anatomy Memorial Committee, Project Sunshine, Work-study

Advice for M1s: Enjoy yourself as much as possible! M1 year is tough, but medical school only gets busier so make sure you take the time to get to know your class and have fun. It's also really easy to get caught up in what other people are doing, but stay true to yourself, find your personal groove and stick with it (and it's okay if this changes a lot throughout the year, too)!

Alex Cong

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Alma mater: University of Pennsylvania

Involvement in RWJMS: SGA VP of Medical Education, Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Ambassadors, RWJMS Summer Research Fellowship

Advice for M1s: Definitely try everything out to find your rhythm. Whether it be socially, academically or personally, try things that you normally wouldn't! There's a lot of ways to be successful in medical school so its important to find what works for you.

Shane Davis

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Alma mater: University of San Diego

Involvement in RWJMS: SNMA and Ambassadors

Advice for M1s: Force yourself to do things outside of academia! I've been doing stand up comedy and comedy writing as a job and a hobby for about 4 years now and it's helped me more in patient interactions and professional development than anything else. Find something you like or interest you, I can guarantee that there's something you can gain from going beyond the books.

TJ Hanlon

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Colts Neck, NJ

Alma mater: Northeastern University

Involvement in RWJMS: Promise Clinic Operations Committee, Promise Clinic Student Doctor, Emergency Medicine Interest Group

Advice for M1s: You are all in the top of the top of medical school applicants and were accepted for a reason so try not to get caught up comparing yourself to others!

Ryan Gardner

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Mullica Hill, NJ

Alma mater: Rutgers University

Involvement in RWJMS: ACPNJ, RWJMS Ambassador, BLAST

Advice for M1s: First off, congratulations!! Your individual journeys that have led you here were unique. Each and every one of you faced your own obstacles as well as some shared; however, a common feature among all of you is the ability to rise to the challenge, you reading this message is proof. Getting through M1 is surprisingly similar to what you have already accomplished. Everyone in the class will face their own problems but I have no doubt everyone in this class has the ability to not just get through medical school, but to thrive through the next few years - you've already shown your ability to adapt and face any challenge head on.
This year you will have more free time than you think. Enjoy yourself!!! There are plenty of social events and outings (although who knows with COVID). Regardless, you are going to meet some of your best friends and become part of the RWJ family. When I say family, I mean being part of a group of people who will move mountains to help you with anything you need. You will all know what I'm talking about in a couple months but in the meantime, never be scared to reach out to anyone for help or with questions!
Lastly, find what works for you! Everyone is different - some studying methods work great for some but not well for others. Make your own path by trial and error to figure out what allows you to succeed.

Zoee D'Costa

Peer Mentor 

Hometown: Skillman, NJ

Alma mater: Cornell University

Involvement in RWJMS: AMWA, OB/GYN Interest Group, LISTOS, Intramural Soccer, Global Health Institute Student Council, Research

Advice for M1s: Be gentle with yourself. Medical school is a marathon, not a sprint. It's easy to get caught up with trying to succeed in the same ways you did in college, and adapting to the new environment might be discouraging in some ways, but take some of the time this year to develop your friendships, your mental strength, and yourself! Don't get overwhelmed. Focus on the tasks at hand and trust that you will grow more than you think is possible to meet the challenges you are facing. I definitely leaned on my classmates and friends to help me through this year, and finding time to connect with people on what I was struggling or succeeding with helped me to be more positive about my outlook. Finally, have fun! Get to know your classmates, you were all chosen because of your unique and interesting stories, and taking the time to socialize helped me to stay inspired and overcome the stress and fatigue of my first year.

Created by your 2020 Orientation Team