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Student Ambassadors 2020-2021

Preclinical students who are currently applying for admission to the School of Medicine and have questions about student life at UMMS are welcome to contact our Student Ambassadors for more information.

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Jillian Belgrad (MD/PhD)

jillian.belgrad@umassmed.edu

Colgate University, 2017

Learn more about Jillian

Pronouns: She/her/hers 

Program: ​MD/PhD

Hometown: ​Weston, MA

Major: ​ Cellular Neuroscience Major

About: ​Jillian is a second year medical student in the MD/PhD program. Originally from Weston, MA she is thrilled to be back in MA for medical and graduate school. After college, Jillian worked for two years at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD conducting neurobiology research. When not at school, she loves to spend time with family and friends, workout, bake, and explore all the amazing food options and nature sites Worcester has to offer. 

Why UMass: ​Loved the energy of the students and faculty who I met on my interview. The research here is incredible. Saw UMassMed as a place I could grow as an excellent physician-scientist and also be so deeply happy as a person.   

Interests: ​Pediatrics, Neuroscience, curriculum development, health equity, running/working-out 

Haley Clark

Haley.Clark@umassmed.edu       

Brown University, 2018

Learn more about Haley

Pronouns:  She/her/hers

Program: MD

Hometown: Needham, MA

Major: Biology

About: I am 24 years old and I am thrilled to be studying medicine at UMass. I love exploring new coffee shops and other hidden gems in Worcester, and I love how UMass faculty and students make me feel like a valuable part of a community and a family.

Why UMass: the community at UMass is extraordinary, and I wanted to make sure I spent my time in medical school surrounded by kind, caring, and encouraging faculty and students.

Interests: music, theater, primary care, women’s health

Taylor Dickinson

Taylor Dickinson

Taylor.Dickinson@umassmed.edu 

Pennsylvania State University, 2016

Learn more about Taylor

Pronouns:  She/her/hers

Program: MD

Hometown: Armadale, VIC, AUS

Major: Biology

About: I grew up in Melbourne, Australia and lived there until I went to Penn State 2012. After graduation in 2016 I moved back to Australia for a year where I played basketball and worked in geriatrics. In 2017 I moved to Boston where I completed the Tufts Masters of Biomedical Sciences program that involved taking classes for a year, and writing a thesis second year. During my second year in Boston I also worked as a TA at Tufts, and as a server and bartender at a restaurant in Harvard Sq.

Why UMASS: I think the perfect example of Why UMASS has been the response of the rising 2nd year students to organizing the pre-orientation activities for the incoming 1st years. Complying with the state and school guidelines over restrictions and distancing, yet still coming together to welcome the 1st years into the school, and to do our best to create the environment and community that makes this place so special!

Interests: surgery, reading, playing basketball, traveling, watching most sports

Jason Freedman

Jason Freedman (MD/PhD)

Jason.Freedman@umassmed.edu

Oberlin College, 2016

Learn more about Jason

PronounsHe/him/his

Program: MD/PhD

Hometown: Needham, MA

Major: Neuroscience

About: I love exercise and the outdoors - particularly ultimate frisbee (shout out to any disc-ers out there!) I also enjoying playing music (drums and guitar), cooking, traveling (when it's safe), and hanging out with my fiance! I took 3 gap years after undergrad, during which I was doing neuro research in NYC. Here at UMass I am one of the Student Body co-presidents and a Burncoat LC house chair.

Why UMass: While the hiking and brewery scene of central MA are fantastic, what brought me to UMass was the culture. I didn't come across any other school's that struck me as a top-tier teaching and biomedical research institute that manages to ALSO have a non-competitive, supportive environment, and students who value fun and work-life balance. When I came here to interview, I just felt like I was with my people.

Interests: Clinical: neurology, psychiatry, medicine, primary care. Research: Neuroscience, neurodegenerative disease, inflammation and immunity. Extracurricular: Student Government and leadership. Other: see "about" section! 

Jacob Gitilin

Jacob Gitlin

Jacob.gitlin@umassmed.edu       

UMass Amherst, 2017

Learn more about Jacob

Pronouns:  He/him/his

Program: MD

Hometown: Newton

Major: Psychology with a Focus in Neuroscience

About: I graduated from UMass Amherst in 2017 and took two gap years working at MGH in the Anesthesia department before starting at UMMS. I’m a rising 2nd year who loves the outdoors, whether that be reading my book in a hammock or skiing. Catch me in my kayak on lake Quinsigamond!

Why UMass: I immediately felt how welcoming the community was. It’s a medical school where you really feel pushed to do your best but also supported every step of the way. They have great mentorship and great students that really make for a very collaborative environment. It was quickly apparent that I’d find students like me here, those that took their studies seriously and wanted to be involved outside of academics but who also wanted to be active and have fun when they could!

Interests: Anything outdoors really.. including skiing, rock climbing, camping, kayaking, lawn games. I also love reading, videogames, and exploring new breweries.

Sara Hyde

Sara Hyde

sara.hyde@umassmed.edu

Brown University, 2017

Learn more about Sara

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Program: MD

Hometown: Westwood, MA

Major: Neuroscience

About: I graduated from Brown in 2017 with a major in Neuroscience. I took two gap years working at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston as a clinical research assistant in the Urology Department. I worked primarily on studies assessing quality of life after various urologic surgeries. Outside of work, I also spent time volunteering with homeless children. At UMass, I am a co-leader for the pediatric interest group and the Primary Care Principles OEE. When I’m not studying, I love to bake for my classmates, especially for our DCS sessions (pre-COVID).

Why UMass: I chose UMass because of its incredible community. I knew that medical school was going to be challenging, so I wanted to surround myself with people who would help and support me along the way. The UMass student body is the most supportive group I’ve ever been a part of, and the faculty is consistently there for the students. I truly feel like a valued member of the community and wouldn’t want to learn medicine anywhere else.

Interests: baking, cooking, running, true crime podcasts; pediatrics

Greg Iovanel

Greg Iovanel

gregory.iovanel@umassmed.edu

Georgetown University, 2018

Learn more about Greg

Pronouns:  He/him/his

Program: MD

Hometown: Plainville, MA

Major: Biology

About: I graduated from Georgetown University in 2018 with a major in Biology and a minor in Economics. During my gap year, I worked for a healthcare consulting firm where I learned the ins and outs of the health insurance industry.

Why UMass: I love being close to home near my family and felt that the community here at UMass was very welcoming. There is a collaborative environment here where students work together rather than compete against each other.

Interests: Orthopedics, Urology, Running, Weightlifting

Alex Joo

Alex Joo

alex.joo@umassmed.edu                 

UC Berkeley, 2017

Learn more about Alex

Pronouns:  He/him/his

Program: MD

Hometown: Corona, CA

Major: Molecular and Cellular Biology

About: I grew up in California and did my undergrad/gap years in the San Francisco Bay Area. During my two gap years I worked as a lab technician, studying miRNAs in asthma exacerbations and performing translational COPD research. 

Why UMass: I have been a part of public education my entire life and I strongly subscribe to the public school ethos: to provide high quality and accessible education for students who strive to give back to their communities. Paired with the friendly people, the gorgeous facilities, and a central location, UMass quickly became my top choice after first visiting the campus on interview day. As a student now, I can confidently say that UMass is exactly what I hoped it would be, and more. 

Interests: Watching NBA basketball (go Dubs!), long nature walks, playing/listening to classical music, and eating my way through central MA/New England.

Tori Powell

Tori Powell (PURCH)

victoria.powell@umassmed.edu

Tufts University, 2014

Learn more about Tori

Pronouns:  She/her/hers

Program: MD/PURCH

Hometown: Chappaqua, NY 

Major: Psychology

About: After graduating Tufts in 2014, I received my MPH in Biostatistics and Epidemiology. Before med school I worked as research analyst for one year, then as a research coordinator working on projects related to HIV preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for three years. Here at UMass I'm the co-chair of the Brightwood Learning Community and the co-leader of Mentors for Young Mothers. 

Why UMass: Even though I didn't grow up here (I lived in 3 states growing up), Massachusetts has become my home (I have lived here for 10 years now). I applied to UMass and was very interested in the PURCH program, and I fell in love with the school when I visited for my interview. 

Interests: hiking, rock climbing, collecting house plants, playing with my dog Waffles

Caroline Repetti

caroline.repetti@umassmed.edu

Boston College, 2017

Learn more about Caroline

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Program: MD

Hometown: Dover, MA

Major: Psychology

About: I took two gap years before medical school to work as a practice coordinator in an outpatient neurosurgery department and volunteer with my hometown’s ambulance. At UMASS, I’m a co-chair of Tatnuck House and do case management for the Worcester Free Clinics. I love exploring Worcester (especially its restaurants and nearby hiking trails), cooking, and skiing.

Why UMass: I was so impressed with the feeling of community at UMASS when I interviewed here. Our community has continued to be extremely important to me throughout my time here – especially during this crazy past year. I’ve found faculty to be incredibly approachable and passionate about teaching medical students, which has made my clinical experiences that much more impactful.

Interests: Primary Care, Pediatrics, Neurology

Sassi Schlick

Sassi Schick

sassicaia.schick@umassmed.edu

Swarthmore College, 2017 

Learn more about Sassi

PronounsShe/her/hers 

Program:  MD

Hometown: Loomis, CA 

Major: Biology

About: My general interests include healthcare administration and technology, women's health and reproductive justice, and education. I also did research on honey bees and am full of lots of bee-related fun facts! In my spare time, I love to watch Star Trek and the West Wing while I cook big elaborate meals! In the fall, I will exchange those Netflix reruns for football (Fly Eagles! Fly!). 

Why UMass: My best friend from college applied a year ahead of me, and raved about the friendly culture and early clinical involvement. It was a no-brainer to apply and I immediately fell in love on my interview day with the school, faculty, and students 

Interests: Worcester Free Care Collaborative (WFCC) operations team, EMR training and use in community health organizations, Stop the Bleed (STB) Curriculum Development, Urban Health Pathway, Quality Improvement Committee 

bennett vogt

Bennett Vogt

bennett.vogt@umassmed.edu

Harvard College, 2017

Learn more about Bennett

Pronouns:  He/him/his

Program: MD

Hometown: Belmont, MA

Major: Chemical and Physical Biology (Minor in Global Health and Health Policy)

About: My interests in medicine range from policy to academic pursuits. As co-President of the UMass Organized Medicine Chapter, I help to facilitate student involvement in physician societies on the local and national levels, while also encouraging students to develop advocacy toolkits that they can use long into their careers. Separately, I am also working with the Division of Hematology/Oncology to establish a virtual research group during social distancing. I think these interests were greatly informed by my extracurricular work with Model UN in college, as well as my undergraduate major and gap year work as a pharmaceutical analyst. When I'm not studying or working on those programs, you can find me biking the seven hills of Worcester!

Why UMass: UMass is impressive for its commitment to community and persistent strive to do well by its students. I have found a faculty here that is always open to communication and providing support, and a body of students that is consistently creative in meeting the challenges we face. The school has ample opportunities and medical school has felt like a choose-your-own-adventure novel in a way I did not entirely expect but do appreciate. I would make the same choice for medical school again in a heartbeat and love serving the diverse community of Worcester.

Interests: Pediatrics, Hematology-Oncology, Infectious Disease, Advocacy

Lauren Waldman

Lauren Waldman

Lauren.Waldman@umassmed.edu

Tufts University, 2016

Learn more about Lauren

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Program: MD

Hometown: Westwood, MA

Major:  Psychology

About:  I went to the Winsor School in Boston and then to Tufts University.  After college, I completed a post-bac program at University of Virginia and worked at Massachusetts General Hospital doing research in the cancer center for two years before coming to UMass.  On campus, I am involved with the Internal Medicine and Hematology/Oncology Interest Groups, as well as the Baccalaureate MD Pathway Mentoring Program. 

Why UMass:  Growing up in the area, many of my own physicians, mentors, and friends trained at UMass and all of them had overwhelmingly positive experiences. I went into my interview really liking the idea of being close to my family for medical school, and I immediately felt right at home on campus and with the people I met.  I also really appreciate that the UMass physicians are excited to teach us and involve us as much as possible in clinical care from the start. 

Interests:  Chocolate labs and all dogs, exercise classes, the beach (but not the ocean because sharks), oncology 

Vanya Zvonar

Vanya Zvonar

vanya.zvonar@umassmed.edu

Harvard University, 2016

Learn more about Vanya

Pronouns: She/ her/hers

Program: MD

Hometown: Boston, MA

Major: Chemistry

About: Hello! My name is Vanya, and I am a rising second year medical students at UMass in the Global Health Pathway. I grew in the South End of Boston and went to school at Harvard, where I studied Chemistry with a minor in Italian. I always wanted to come back to Massachusetts for medical school, but needed a break before diving back into this big chapter. My break turned into two years teaching English in Quito, Ecuador, followed by a year in Boston as a clinical research coordinator at MGH. I finally found my place here at UMass, and it has been the most incredible and rewarding journey thus far. At UMass, I am involved in coordinating at one of our free clinics in the Worcester community, leading an elective course in medical interviewing in Spanish, and both leading a group and doing research in global surgery. I love speaking with prospective students about our community, so please do not hesitate to reach out with any and all questions!

Why UMass: Above all other things, the people and community at UMass make it the most amazing place to learn medicine, and one of the primary reasons I picked to come here. As a student and member of the Worcester community, I always feel supported by those around me and feel I have access to all the resources that will help me become a competent and compassionate physician. Worcester is a vibrant and diverse place to both live and practice medicine, and opportunities like the Worcester Free Clinic Coalition allow us to dive head first into helping the local population. These opportunities to serve our community, alongside the exceptional academic and clinical instruction we receive, make UMass an incredible place to be during our medical journeys.

Interests: Running, hiking, skiing, dancing, reading, traveling, exploring Worcester!