Service Scholars

Belmonte, Michael MSSP Scholar Michael Belmonte
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago

A third year medical student, Michael completed his BS at Northwestern University. He worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant and instructor for people with developmental disabilities through AmeriCorps. At the University of Illinois at Chicago, Mr. Belmonte works closely with the Hispanic Center of Excellence as a mentor to many high school and college students aspiring to attend medical school. Through seminar series, he prepares students to be strong candidates. He serves as Vice President of the Latino Medical Student Association, ensuring the voices of students are heard. Through the Urban Medicine program and Patient Centered Medicine program, Michael conducts a sexual health and wellness program at a local alternative high school.

Ghant, Melissa MSSP Scholar Marissa Ghant
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago

A second year medical student, Marissa Ghant was the Vice President for Davidson Students Volunteer for Science at Davidson College, where she also worked as a teacher’s assistant. She also performed research at Northwestern University on health disparities on women’s knowledge of infertility treatment and fibroids. As an active member of the Urban Medicine Program at her medical school, she is involved in the community through mentoring elementary, middle and high school youth with the Young Doctors program in the North Lawndale community.

Holliday, Angela MSSP Scholar Angela Holliday
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago

A third year medical student, Angela Holliday is committed to working with underserved populations. While attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as an undergraduate, she co-founded a student organization that connected minority students interested in healthcare with networking and mentoring opportunities to further interest in the medical field. She worked with underserved youth at the local boys and girls club, and volunteered at the crisis nursery and the local hospital. Upon entering medical school, she served as both the education co-chair of the Student National Medical Association, and a community outreach chair of the Pediatric Interest group. During the summer of 2014, she developed a program that educated children and their parents on health and nutrition in a community health center in Nashville, Tennessee.

Martinez, Lydiesther MSSP Scholar Lydiesther Martinez
University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago

A second year medical student, Lydiesther Martinez understands firsthand how societal factors affect the health of a community. While attaining her BA in the science of human biology from the University of California San Diego, Ms. Martinez showed commitment to service. She joined Healing Hearts across Borders as an interpreter for medical providers assisting migrant workers, and the Palomar Pomerado Health Hospital where she served and translated for patients. Her desire to address social determinants of health disparities has led her to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she worked to build a national adult immunization campaign, and to the White House where she interned to promote the Affordable Care Act.

Raji, Zainab MSSP Scholar Zainab Raji
Loyola University of Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine

A fourth year medical student, Zainab Raji earned her BA in biology from the University of Chicago (U of C); while there, she participated in many service, research and leadership activities. As a volunteer with Health Leads, she served as a patient advocate for low income families. Ms. Raji engaged students in public service, community building, and social change through U of C’s Summer Links program. Since matriculating at Loyola, Ms. Raji has continued her advocacy efforts and diligently works with Loyola’s pipeline programs. As Co-President of the Loyola chapter of the Student National Medical Association, she sponsor/hosted events and workshops that addressed issues of race and social justice to increase awareness of health disparities among medical students and the Loyola community.

Stones, Rachel MSSP Scholar Rachel Stones
University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine

A third year medical student, Rachel Stones plans to become a primary care physician activist in an urban undeserved setting. Ms. Stones graduated with honors from the University of Texas with a degree in psychology after which she participated in a 6-month Guatemalan program called Somos Hermanos. Since starting medical school, Ms. Stones has held several leadership positions, including Co-President of the University of Chicago Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) chapter; and Co-President of REMEDY UChicago, a student organization that works with a women’s clinic in Cusco, Peru. She was selected to be a class representative on her school’s wellness committee.

Residency Scholars

Dean, Nakyda MSSP Scholar Nakyda Dean, MD
Rush University Medical Center

A recent graduate from Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, Dr. Nakyda Dean is committed to diversity, service and mentorship. She earned her BA in biochemistry and molecular biology from Cornell College. As an undergraduate, she volunteered as an event planner for the Office of Intercultural Life, where she helped plan institutional diversity awareness programs. After graduation, she completed the post-baccalaureate program (MEDPREP) at Southern Illinois University. During that time, she volunteered to provide health services for uninsured patients at the Abundant Health Resource Clinic. In medical school, she worked with clinics for the underserved and served as vice president of the Loyola Chapter of SNMA. As a member of the Health Professions Recruitment & Exposure Program, and the Chicago Area Health and Medical Careers Program, Dr. Dean mentored high school and college students who desire to pursue a career in medicine. She is a clinical resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Nguyen, Vy MSSP Scholar Vy Nguyen, MD
Saint Francis Hospital

Dr. Vy Nguyen is dedicated to quality healthcare for underserved patients. As a board member of the Student Run Free Clinic at the University of Illinois (UIC) College of Medicine, she connected fellow medical students, and resident and physician volunteers, to care for patients at Community Health, Illinois’s largest volunteer-based, free clinic. Through her project with UIC’s Urban Medicine Program, she helped pilot a health leadership and nutrition curriculum for patient volunteers at Community Health. In addition to her community outreach, Dr. Nguyen strives to improve healthcare delivery through her research at the Illinois Ear and Eye Infirmary, where she sought early detection methods to help prevent blindness in patients with glaucoma. She spent a summer in Ghana conducting qualitative research on how to enhance healthcare deliverables in the resource-scarce township of Apam. She has received numerous awards, including the Illinois Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Network Program Award, the Illinois Hospital and Research Foundation Scholarship, the National Medical Fellowship’s Dr. David Monash/John Caldwell Scott Medical Student Scholarship, and the 2014 Franklin E. McLean Award. Dr. Nguyen plans on continuing her role as an educator and life-long learner through a focus on the leadership and nutrition curriculum, as well as investigative clinical research. She is pursuing clinical residency training in Ophthalmology.

Richards, Jjais MSSP Scholar Jjais Richards, MD
Loyola University Medical Center

Dr. Jjais Richards earned a BS in biology from Cornell University. As an undergraduate, she served as the Volunteer and Special Projects Committee Chair of the Black Bio-Medical Technical Association for which she was responsible for programming, all volunteer activities, and the annual fundraiser. After graduation, she pursued research in cardiovascular sciences at Albany Medical College. In Albany, she volunteered with the Delta GEMS (Growing and Empowering Myself Successfully) program and in the Pediatrics Department. She was also Chapter President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and instrumental in creating their Abrookin Tutoring Program for alternative high school students. When Dr. Richards matriculated to Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine, she continued her volunteer efforts via the Maywood Youth Mentorship Program and served on the Learning Environment and Academic Diversity (LEAD) Committee. Through LEAD, she helped define the mission of Loyola’s Office of Diversity. At Loyola, she served as Chapter President of the SNMA, then a two-year term as Regional Director of SNMA’s Region II during which she served on their National Board of Directors. Dr. Richards is pursuing Pediatrics training during her residency.

Sanchez, Robert MSSP Scholar Robert Sanchez, MD
University of Chicago Medical Center

A graduate of the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Dr. Robert Sanchez has a history of dedication to service, leadership, diversity and inclusion. In 2008, he graduated from Yale University, where he received a BA in the history of science & medicine. Following graduation, he was a Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Fellow in Washington, DC, where he served in the office of Senator Barack Obama and in the health policy office of Senator Ted Kennedy. After completing the fellowship, he was a health policy analyst for the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. As a medical student, Dr. Sanchez served as the coordinator of Community Health Clinic, a volunteer-run clinic serving uninsured immigrant populations on Chicago’s west side. He served on the board of LMSA & SNMA, the Student Admissions Committee, and on the Pritzker Dean’s Council as class representative to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Under the mentorship of Dr. Monica Peek, he has helped conduct community-based, health care disparities research within African-American and Latino populations on the south side of Chicago. He is pursuing a clinical residency in Internal Medicine.