College of Medicine’s Leaders Celebrating Leaders program recognizes student leaders

Penn State College of Medicine's Nittany lion statue is seen in a courtyard in the spring.

Each year, the offices of the Dean, Vice Dean for Educational Affairs, Vice Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and Nursing unite to honor student leaders from the medical doctor (MD), physician assistant (PA), graduate and nursing programs. Because of COVID-19, the annual off-site recognition for this academic year was modified to a drop-in event, where students were thanked personally by College of Medicine leadership and picked up a dinner to enjoy at home.

March 7, 2022Penn State College of Medicine News

“We continue to be impressed by the resilience and dedication of our students. Each year, this event gives us an opportunity to celebrate students who have chosen to lead their peers. They have demonstrated their leadership abilities in a challenging time in health care. They should be commended for continuing to strive for more and lead others,” said Dr. Kevin Black, interim dean of the College of Medicine.

See a list of student organizations and their officers here.

As part of the annual Leaders Celebrating Leaders program, class officers and representatives from the MD, PA, graduate and nursing programs acknowledge fellow students and their good work, commitment and service to the College of Medicine and community.

These individuals were honored by their peers for the past academic year:

MD Class of 2022: Daniel Haas

The MD Class of 2022 is proud to recognize Dan Haas as its exemplary student leader based on his strong commitment to education, mentorship and community service. Dan has been a standout in education since 2019, leading training in the Ultrasound Students as Educators group, going above and beyond for Students as Educators and pursuing his master’s degree in education. Dan also has mentored students in the College of Medicine and the community, serving on numerous panels for undergraduates at transitional stages of their education and facilitating small groups focused on COVID-19 safety in the College. Dan actively works to increase medical knowledge in the community, creating and teaching a Hem/Onc curriculum for interested high school students, tutoring the children of health care workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and training Pennsylvania State Police cadets in Stop the Bleed principles, all while continuing to teach martial arts and coaching soccer. Dan hopes to complete his medical education this spring and begin training as an emergency medicine physician – we are sure that he will continue to make invaluable additions as a leader in his profession.

MD Class of 2023: Chandat Phan

Chandat Phan is a pleasant member of the MD Class of 2023. His passions for global health, humanities, art and film/photography have allowed him to stay active, not only in the classroom, but in the community, incorporating his skills and talents. As the president of the Global Health Interest Group, Chandat, with the help of others, formed Penn State College of Medicine’s annual Intramural Global Health Case Competition team. He also led Pennsylvania’s first statewide Refugee and Immigrant Health Needs Assessment project, which emphasizes community-informed health interventions in vulnerable populations. Chandat utilized his photography and film background to co-create a project called “Humans in Training,” exploring the blend between extracurricular passions and medicine among medical students. He also produced a film called “Embrace the Suck,” involving an extraordinary patient and his story of perseverance after a cancer diagnosis. The film was accepted as part of the American Public Health Association Film Festival 2021. Chandat wishes to become a global health-oriented doctor and filmmaker, serving patients who need it most and sharing their stories wherever they may be in the world.

MD Class of 2024: Student Vaccination Task Force

The MD Class of 2024 has selected the Student Vaccination Task Force. The task force is led by many of the MS2 class, and a significant number of our peers volunteer with the group. This group (specifically the leaders from our class) has made significant strides in increasing vaccination rates in Dauphin and surrounding counties. They have worked tirelessly this past year to open and staff the vaccine site while ensuring equity in the distribution.

MD Class of 2025: Cain Dudek

Cain Dudek is a natural leader who has a passion for teaching and helping others. He places great emphasis on his commitment to the community, whether through his dedicated connection and support to his peers in PBL, his mentorship through community programs like PULSE or his leadership in student organizations. Even as a father, nursing supervisor and student, he manages his time tremendously and ensures that everyone around him has the opportunity to succeed. He is an exemplary example of a selfless individual, and we, as the Class of 2025, are thankful for his dedicated efforts.

MD University Park Curriculum: LionCare Tyrone Free Clinic

LionCare is a cornerstone of Penn State College of Medicine, and the University Park Curriculum LionCare Clinic based in Tyrone is perhaps the best example of student initiative at University Park. Established in 2016, the fledgling student-run clinic has faced many hurdles in the past six years. Despite that, this clinic’s student leaders have worked relentlessly to provide care to the local community, going so far as to secure a $68,000 grant from the Hamer Foundation to expand the clinic’s services. It is a testament to the team that their work was not stymied by the pandemic; not only did they adapt to new pandemic constraints, they also innovated ways to improve the clinic and the services offered to patients. Some of the innovations that came out of the last year include providing patients with free lab work, starting the process of transitioning from paper charts to electronic medical records and interviewing patients and community leaders to assess community needs. As such, we want to recognize three years’ worth of LionCare leaders: the students who secured the grant, the students who utilized that money to introduce new services and the students who have not let the pandemic get in the way of providing care. It takes a passionate and hardworking group of individuals to grow a student-run free clinic this way, and our whole campus is very proud of them.

Specifically, the students being recognized are Shara Chopra, Lauren Dennis, Tilicea Henry, Amy Hoffman, Noor Kawmi, Brandon Portnoff, Olga Prokunina, Maddie Snyder, Morgan Voulo, Sarah Walser, Hannah Wilding and Akshata Yalvigi.

PA Class 2022: Lenisha Paige

This year, our class is nominating Lenisha Paige. As our diversity representative, Lenisha has gone above and beyond to advocate for diversity and inclusion during our experience in the Penn State College of Medicine program. She has shared information about historical dates and persons, and opportunities to get involved in our community, as well as advocated for the addition of more diversity within our class curriculum. Lenisha has a passion for inclusion and does an exceptional job engaging the class and spreading knowledge.

PA Class 2023: Carissa Lee

Our class has chosen to highlight Carissa Lee. Carissa is our class community outreach chair and has done an amazing job involving our class in Project Fellowship with the Milton Hershey School. She has continued the PA program’s tradition of connecting with the House of Monaco at the Milton Hershey School, where we volunteer to spend time with the students participating in various activities. This winter, we painted Christmas ornaments that the students used to decorate trees around campus. Our class really enjoyed this experience and Carissa is working to plan events with House of Monaco in the future.

Student Nurses’ Association: Members on the state and national boards of nursing

Our members on the state and national boards of nursing! We have had the most representation for the Student Nurses’ Association at Penn State in the last few years. Alyssa Tygh is the president at University Park. She is also president of the Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania (SNAP), a position she will also hold next year. Kyle Loose is the vice president at University Park and president of the National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA). We also have some other members on the boards, including Hannah Lochan, southcentral regional coordinator for SNAP, and Sarah McCloskey, director and chair of the Membership Committee for NSNA. They put in their time and effort year-round, and we are very proud and excited to have representation from Penn State on the state and national level.

PSSA (MD/PhD): Tim Helmuth

Tim Helmuth is a rising fourth-year MD/PhD student who currently studies the role of iron in hemorrhagic stroke under the mentorship of Dr. James Connor. Tim completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, majoring in molecular, cellular and developmental biology, biochemistry and neuroscience. During the first two years of medical school, he served as an MD/PhD curriculum chair and represented dual-degree trainees in discussions about innovations and challenges in the medical school curriculum. He also participated in MD/PhD recruitment efforts while in medical school and was ultimately elected as chair of the Recruitment Committee. Despite the challenges of virtual recruitment, Tim successfully organized and facilitated pre-interview sessions between applicants and current students. He effectively employed feedback from applicants, students and faculty members to promote a meaningful and welcoming experience for all participants this past application cycle.

Graduate Student Association: Xingyan Wang

Xingyan Wang is a fourth-year PhD student in the biostatistics program. He has been very dedicated to his academic endeavors and is also heavily involved in mentoring students across the program, both as a mentor in lab and outside of lab as a teaching assistant. Xingyan is very passionate about public health beyond his studies – he is on the peer review group for the Journal of Student-Run Clinics and serves in a leadership role for the Public Health Association for Service and Excellence (PHASE). Additionally, he’s contributed to the Emory Global Health Institute’s Case Competition, in which students worked on COVID-19 vaccine program rollout and feasibility from a statistical perspective. Outside of his work and extracurriculars on campus, Xingyan contributes to the Hershey community by volunteering for the Hershey Symphony Orchestra. He has been actively participating in shows for the past four years.

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