Thomas Jefferson University
Jarobvey Matthews is a second-year PA student at Thomas Jefferson University-East Falls campus located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Matthews is originally from South Carolina where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Cardiovascular Imaging and Leadership from Clemson University. Prior to PA school, Matthews worked as a cardiovascular sonographer performing a wide array of cardiac and vascular ultrasound studies for patients. Matthews has a passion for mentorship and seeing students excel and succeed with their endeavors. He hopes to work with students of the Mid-Atlantic region to provide resources related to AAPA and be their voice and as they embark on their PA journey. He is excited to serve and represent students of the Mid-Atlantic Region!
In his free time, Matthews enjoys spending time with friends, trying new restaurants, and exploring new cities.
Sacred Heart University
Erica Ramos is a first-year student at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. She was born and raised in the Hudson Valley located in the greater New York area. Ramos completed her undergraduate education at San Diego State University in San Diego, California, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in public health and a minor in biology in 2015. While at SDSU, she was on the executive board of Students for Public Health. She was a Peer Health Educator for the Health Promotions Office and a volunteer in the medical ICU at a local hospital. While going to college, Erica worked full-time as a bartender, walked dogs, and sold her own jewelry. During her senior year, she was voted Outstanding Undergraduate Student of the Year.
After graduation, Ramos moved back home to New York where she began a job as an emergency medical scribe until the beginning of PA school. At Sacred Heart, she serves as her student society’s Student Academy Representative (SAR). She is a student member of the Connecticut Academy of PAs and the New York State Society of PAs. This past spring, Ramos rallied with other student leaders and joined the AAPA Leadership and Advocacy Summit (LAS). It was there that she became inspired to run for a national leadership role. As the Northeast Regional Director, Ramos hopes to continue to motivate students to get involved in advocating for the PA profession.
After completing PA school, Ramos either plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine or primary care working predominantly with underserved communities. In her free time, she enjoys a good meal, working out, and spending time with her fiancé, Yogi, and their 90-pound pitbull, Leoboy.
Alyssa Evans is a second-year PA student at Pace University-Pleasantville where she serves as her student society’s Student Academy Representative. Prior to PA school, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Bard College in psychology, which she began while in high school. She went on to earn a master’s degree in developmental psychology from Cornell University, where she studied neuroscience and human development. Evans believes strongly in the importance of advocating for the PA profession, and she hopes to encourage each student to take an interest in advocacy and leadership throughout their careers.
St. Catherine University
Cody Tucholke is a second-year student at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnestora. This past year, he served as President and Diversity Chair of his program’s student society, and he now holds the role of President Emeritus. He has advocated for Optimal Team Practice (OTP) in Minnesota alongside other PAs, faculty, and students in “PA Day on the Hill,” and this legislation passed into law August of 2020. This experience, along with other experiences in advocacy, have informed him of the importance of good policy. He joined the Advocacy & Policy Committee to gain experience and leadership skills to inspire others to be involved in creating PA-positive policies and advancing the PA profession.
He graduated from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities with high distinction in December 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in biology. During his time as an undergraduate, he worked for almost four years as a Direct Care Professional in a group home for adults with disabilities. After graduating, he worked in a lab researching treatments for type 1 diabetes and chronic pancreatitis.
Cody lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Marin. They love the lakes, parks, and other sites in Minneapolis, and are active in their church community. In his free time, he enjoys road biking, sports, hunting, reading, writing letters, and learning about anything.
Oregon Health and Science University
Don DeFrang is a second-year PA student at Oregon Health and Science University. This is his first year serving as a member on the Advocacy & Policy Committee.
Prior to PA school, DeFrang attended Linfield College where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in exercise science. Seeking clinical experience, he then worked as an Emergency Medical Technician on the Oregon coast and volunteered as a rural Firefighter/EMT for many years. His work then pivoted to clinical research where he coordinated investigational device studies in endocrinology at the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center, OHSU.
Having always lived in the Northwest, DeFrang loves to explore the national parks and travel. He and his father take a yearly 10-day bike ride with friends, across the region.
Oregon Health & Science University
Erin is a second-year PA student at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon. Prior to PA school, she obtained a BA in psychology from Willamette University, then moved on to obtain post-baccalaureate education at the University of New Mexico (in her hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico) in biochemistry and emergency response. She became an Advanced EMT, moved to Denver, and served on both a 911 ambulance as an AEMT and in the emergency department at University of Colorado Hospital as an ED Tech.
During the first year of PA school, Ostlie-Madden has served as the class AAPA Student Academy Representative, wrote an AOR resolution in 2020, and has been involved in attempted to link alumni with current students in a support network. Additionally, she has recently been involved in an anti-racism in medicine interest group working to educate themselves and their classmates about the history and effects of medical racism. Ostlie-Madden is passionate about how local and national policy affects PAs and their patients and believes that the voices of providers are an important part of shaping a future of quality and equal care.
In her spare time, Ostlie-Madden spends a lot of time listening to podcasts while walking her five-year-old dog (who still has puppy energy), running and weight-lifting, and enjoying the great outdoors with her husband – hiking, kayaking/stand-up paddle boarding, and all the snow sports!
University of Florida
Jasity is a first-year and first-generation PA student attending the University of Florida.
Before PA school, Rush had experience working in skin cancer surgery, specifically Mohs, and working as a caregiver for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.
Outside of patient contact experience, Rush was an intern for the US House of Representatives in 2018. Additionally, she volunteered with the National Psoriasis Foundation and Advent Health Hospital Tampa. Rush was appointed as a 2017 Regional Community Ambassador for the National Psoriasis Foundation.
At the end of her undergraduate career, she graduated from Florida State University with a BS in biology and a minor in chemistry.
Recently, Rush was appointed as Miss Florida World America 2020. Her platform is entitled “Care Packages for Caregivers” where gift packages are collected for essential workers who care for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients.
During her free time, she enjoys traveling, learning Spanish, running, and spending time with friends and family.
University of Saint Joseph
Julia Piwowarski is a second-year student at the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) PA Program in West Hartford, Connecticut. She has served as the Student Academy Representative (SAR) of her student society, volunteers as a member of the USJ Academic Integrity Board and is currently serving her second term on the student delegation to the AAPA House of Delegates. Her experience on the 2019-2020 delegation motivated her to remain involved and further direct her focus on issues she is most passionate about, such as diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ health, and Optimal Team Practice.
Piwowarski’s primary goals are to encourage student involvement in AAPA, advocate for diversity within the PA profession, and, most importantly, emphasize ethical, evidence-based decisions in all settings to provide exceptional care to patients and increase access to care for underserved populations.
Prior to PA school, Piwowarski earned her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Hispanic Studies from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. During those years, she spent much of her time in oncology research. She was a research assistant at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center where she studied the anti-inflammatory effects of bioactive lipids in the tumor microenvironment. After graduating, she moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she continued performing research at Emory Medical School on the use of perioperative nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent breast cancer recurrence. To gain more translative, clinical experience, she moved back to Boston to be a regulatory coordinator in breast oncology research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Throughout the years, she gained hands-on patient experience through her work as a volunteer EMT-Basic at Boston College and a private patient care assistant.
In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, gardening, hiking and exploring with her partner, Cam, and spending time with her family and friends.
Case Western Reserve University
Katherine Feng is a second-year student at Case Western Reserve University’s PA Program in Cleveland, Ohio. She serves as the 2019-2020 Student Academy Representative for CWRU’s Charles L. Hudson Student Society and is a board member of the CWRU Student Run Health Clinic’s Quality Improvement Committee. At CWRU she is a scholar in the Interprofessional Learning Exchange and Practice Program (ILEAP) where she worked on an interprofessional team to identify gaps in care for cancer patients at University Hospital Seidman Cancer Center, and developed continuous improvement plans for future scholars to address. She is also a scholar in the Interprofessional Scholars Collaboration in Teaching and Learning Program (iSCTL) where she is currently working with a physician faculty to develop an innovative IPE curriculum using simulations.
Feng is passionate about advocating for the PA profession and increasing student interests and engagement in opportunities provided by AAPA and the Student Academy. Her special interests include interprofessional education and collaboration, increasing diversity within the PA profession, and increasing PAs’ presence in innovative research.
Feng received her Bachelor’s in Biochemistry and Psychology from the University of Arkansas. She worked in a biomedical laboratory studying pancreatic cancer and acute kidney injuries before pursuing a Master’s in Medical Physiology at Case Western Reserve University. Prior to PA school she also worked as a nursing assistant caring for patients recovering from GI surgery and worked on clinical trials studying chronic illnesses such as Diabetes, SLE, Systemic Sclerosis, Raynaud’s, and HIV.
In her free time, Feng enjoys cooking, playing piano, and hiking the trails around Northeast Ohio with her dog, Nellie.
Wake Forest School of Medicine
Kerra Jones is a first-year PA student at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is participating in Wake’s Emerging Leaders Program, a three-year sequential degree program that allows students to obtain a Master of Studies in Law with a focus on health law and policy before beginning PA school. After completing the one-year law portion of the program in May, Jones had an increased passion for advocacy and policy. She has been looking forward to using her newly-gained knowledge of the healthcare legal system to advance the PA profession by educating others and advocating for recognition of PAs, and she also strives to support policy that addresses disparities in medicine.
Jones moved to North Carolina in 2012 to attend Duke University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology. After graduating, she worked as a medical assistant and volunteered at a local hospital where she had the opportunity to serve as a doula for laboring mothers who did not have access to doula services. She became a mentor to new volunteers and enjoyed witnessing the strength women displayed while giving birth. During this time, Jones also volunteered as a cheerleading coach at Duke and went on to work in the pharmaceutical clinical research industry before starting the Emerging Leaders Program last year.
In her free time, Jones enjoys traveling, taking walks with her friends, doing hot yoga, and creating digital art. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia and loves going back home to spend time with her family whenever possible.
University of Saint Joseph
Leah Finch is a second-year physician assistant student at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut. Participating in a medical mission trip to Haiti in 2014 solidified her love for healthcare and fostered her drive to become a PA. Through her studies at USJ, she has become more passionate about PA advocacy and is eager to ignite change over the next year.
Prior to attending graduate school, Finch completed her Bachelor of Science in health science at Sacred Heart University, with a minor in biology. Though she has various patient care experiences in dialysis clinics, pharmacies, drug rehabilitation centers, and dermatology offices, her career pathway remains undecided and she looks forward to utilizing her clinical year to find her “calling”.
In between studying and clinical rotations, Finch enjoys spending time with her family and dog, Benny, and taking walks along the Connecticut shoreline, collecting sea glass.
Rosalind Franklin University
Michael Fratina is a second-year PA student and class president of his cohort at Rosalind Franklin University (RFU) in North Chicago, Illinois. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. Prior to starting PA school, he held a variety of positions, including serving as an EMT-B for his local volunteer fire department, acting as a scientific grants policy specialist for the National Institutes of Health, and researching antimalarial drug therapies
Since attending RFU, Fratina has pursued advocacy-driven solutions to issues facing the PA profession and health inequity. He serves in a panel position for the school’s Interprofessional Community Clinic (ICC), which acts as a free student-led clinic for the underinsured population of Lake County, Illinois and surrounding areas. He has started initiatives to enhance patient education measures in the clinic and has also started a quality improvement project to increase health literacy among the populations served by the ICC. He was also a 2019 Fellow of the PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship, where he had the chance to visit several members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to lobby for several bills enhancing accessibility and affordability of PA education that were put forth by Rep. Karen Bass, the first PA elected to Congress. He has participated in similar lobbying efforts at the state level in Illinois and is passionate about continuing similar initiatives while acting as a student delegate.
When not pursuing his studies, Fratina enjoys volunteering, traveling, cooking, gardening, and hiking/camping with his partner and their dog.
Molly Christine McCluskey
Oregon Health and Science University
Molly McCluskey is a second-year PA student at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon where she has served as her class’ representative for the Oregon Medical Association.
Prior to PA school, McCluskey earned her Bachelor of Arts and Science in chemistry and world religions from the University of San Diego. After graduating, she gained clinical experience working as a medical assistant in urology and dermatology.
Since entering PA school, McCluskey has found passion for advancing the PA profession through political advocacy. She looks forward to working with the Advocacy & Policy Committee this upcoming year to hopefully instill this same passion in the PA students across the country.
When she is not studying, McCluskey enjoys hiking, fly-fishing, cooking and spending time with friends and family.
Rocky Vista University
Natalie Crump is a second-year student at Rocky Vista University in Parker, Colorado where she currently serves as a mentor to two high school pre-health students through the RVU MC^2 Mentorship Program.
She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Colorado Denver and Master of Science in Medical Sciences from the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. Prior to PA school, Natalie served as a Senior Research Assistant and Patient Navigator for the University of Colorado Fertility Preservation Program where she led research protocols to help pediatric, adolescent, and adult patients preserve gonadal tissue and/or gametes prior to fertility harming medical treatment. Observing the inequity between patients who were able to afford fertility preservation treatments and those who were not, Natalie took the initiative to create “The Freedom to Hope- A Campaign for Fertility Preservation,” to help offset the cost of treatments for patients in need.
Since beginning PA school, Natalie has become a passionate advocate for culturally competent training and diversity within the PA profession; actively using her voice and social media platform to help raise awareness and educate fellow PA students on the importance of understanding structural racism, its impact on patients, and what we as students can do to help change the narrative and improve patient outcomes.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, listening to personal development podcasts, reading, and Pilates.
Case Western Reserve University
Rachelle Fair is a second-year PA student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to PA school, she graduated from Youngstown State University with a BS in biological sciences and a certificate in gerontology. After graduation she gained experience working as a medical assistant at a family practice office, becoming the practice manager.
Fair currently serves on the Student Run Health Clinic outreach committee of her school and is in the Paul Ambrose Scholars Program. Through these activities and other volunteer opportunities she discovered the importance of addressing healthcare disparities that exist in patient care. She also currently serves as the PA student representative for the Intersociety Student Council at CWRU. Through these interprofessional experiences she learned the importance of advocating and educating other healthcare professional students on the various roles the PA fulfills on the healthcare team.
In addition to medicine, Fair enjoys being a 4H advisor, trail running, triathlons, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets.
Seton Hall University
Raya Calvert is a third-year student at Seton Hall University in Nutley, New Jersey, where she serves as the Student Academy Representative of her student society’s executive board.
Prior to PA school, Calvert earned her bachelor’s degree in exercise science with an emphasis in applied health science at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. After graduation, she worked at 24-Hour Fitness in operations management and at local community clinics as chief medical scribe throughout North County, San Diego. She gained additional experience through volunteering at UCSD Medical Center’s emergency and ICU departments.
Throughout PA school, Calvert has been actively involved in student volunteer groups and outreaches within her program. She volunteered at the local food bank with her student society, as well as at a community health and wellness outreach in Newark, New Jersey. In 2019-2020, she served as a PA student mentor for her school’s “Mobilizing Physician Assistants Outreach Program,” which connects high school students to the PA profession and encourages pursuing higher education. This year, she hopes to become a graduate assistant to help tutor first-year PA students during their didactic training.
Calvert enjoys snowboarding, hiking, going to the movies, traveling, and spending time with her husband, friends, and family. She has been working on her Spanish during clinical rotations, and after graduation, she hopes to become fully bilingual to increase patient education and access to healthcare.
St. Catherine University
Rebecca Gonzalez is a second-year PA student at St. Catherine University located in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gonzalez is originally from California where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences from the University of California Santa Barbara. In preparation for PA school, she worked as a pathology technician and primary care medical assistant.
After graduation, Gonzalez sees herself working in primary care at a community clinic. She also envisions herself continuing to volunteer with Aeromedicos; a non-profit that provides medical and dental care to people in rural villages in Mexico.
In her free time, Gonzalez enjoys running, playing piano and spending time with family and friends.
Thomas Jefferson University
Sarah Baker is a second-year PA student at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. During her undergraduate she studied health sciences, earning her bachelors in three years as a part of a five-year PA program. She also managed to minor in Spanish during this time. While in undergrad, Sarah worked as a student athletic trainer, a campus tour guide, and served as President of her university’s PA Society. These roles helped foster her love for leadership and community involvement.
Baker also spent time abroad in Costa Rica for five weeks, where she studied Medical Spanish and Healthcare Policy. This was what first sparked her interest in “being the change she wants to see in the world”. While very new to advocacy and policy, Sarah sees the importance that it has in patient care and the PA profession. As a PA, she looks forward to making small differences in the lives of her future patients but is eager to learn more about advocacy and policy making so that she can enact more widespread change in her community.
Currently, Baker is most interested in cardiology and cardiac surgery. She loved all topics that were covered in her didactic year of PA school and can see herself eventually teaching part time as well. In her free time, she loves to exercise, go for runs, spend time with friends and family, and enjoy the outdoors—especially the beach as she is a proud Central New Jerseyian.
Shanae Mason is a first-year student in Mercer University’s PA program in Atlanta, Georgia. She from St. Ann, Jamaica, home of the famous Dunn’s River Falls and birthplace of the legendary Bob Marley. She moved to South Carolina in December of 2011 and enrolled at Winthrop University. There she completed an undergraduate degree in nutrition and dietetics and went on to become a Registered Dietitian (RD) in 2016.
Since becoming an RD, she has worked in several specialty areas including diabetes management, critical care, neurology, and ambulatory care. During her time as an Ambulatory Dietitian at one of the largest state hospitals in Georgia, Mason was the coordinator of the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program that was aimed at providing nutrition education as well as fruit and vegetable prescriptions to patients that were identified as food insecure. She was also a part of the team that developed the curriculum for this program.
She chose to embark on the journey to become a PA so that she can do more for her patients and feels passionately about the impact that she can have as a PA in the care of her patients. She will graduate in the summer of 2022 and is excited about what the future holds for her as a PA and the PA profession. She enjoys hiking, reading, travelling, and cooking for family and friends.
Syuzanna Leigh is a third-year (transfer) PA student at D’Youville College B.S./M.S. PA program. Prior to PA school, Leigh completed B.S. in interdisciplinary studies from Liberty University after studying two different majors in two foreign countries. While completing PA school prerequisite course work, she worked as laboratory assistant in a hospital, medical assistant in family medicine and urgent care, scribed in emergency department, and shadowed a myriad of surgeries.
Leigh is a Huddle student community volunteer with a mission to increase awareness amongst peers and future PA students about AAPA and its array of resources as well as encourage engagement within PA student community. Legh is a mother of two young boys (six and two-and-a-half) and lives with purpose to be an inspiring role model (alongside her husband) for her boys.
Leigh continues to volunteer in local community as well as at D’Youville assisting Institutional Effectiveness and Planning Director with events designed to serve the underserved. After the outbreak of COVID-19, Leigh joined the local hospital’s COVID-unit as PCA to contribute her share to the healthcare crisis in NY state. Currently, Leigh continues her surgical shadowing (main focus remaining neurosurgery) and is developing a mentorship platform for PA community (stay tuned).
When not studying, Leigh enjoys time with her family and pets, drawing (anatomy mainly)/abstract painting, cycling/exercising and experimenting in the kitchen to name a few hobbies.
University of Mount Union
Tiffany Gillen is a first-year PA student at the University of Mount Union in northeastern Ohio. Prior to PA school, she graduated cum laude from Kent State University with her bachelor’s degree in molecular/cellular biology. During her undergraduate studies, she worked in home healthcare and as a dietary aide in an assisted living.
In her free time, she volunteered at the local hospital in the radiology department and with the Gardens of Western Reserve Hospice. She also has coached cheerleading for the past six years and enjoys traveling. When she isn’t studying, she is traveling to different national parks, reading, or cooking a new recipe. After graduating PA school in 2022, she plans on applying for a fellowship in family medicine while obtaining her doctorate online.
University of Nebraska
Annie Wildermuth, MMS, PA-C, CAQ EM, RD, is the Associate Program Director and Admissions Director at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) PA Program. A PA educator for five years, she has directed the clinical medicine course series and enjoys teaching emergency medicine, nutrition, and clinical reasoning. After starting her career working in urology, she has clinically practiced in emergency medicine for the last eight years, earning her Certificate of Added Qualification in 2018. Her research interests include admissions, eating disorders, and a variety of emergency medicine subjects. Annie works closely with the US Military’s Interservice Physician Assistant Program (IPAP), serving as the liaison between UNMC and IPAP, and thoroughly enjoys this collaboration and the opportunity to support the military. She has served on the PAEA Future Educator Development Steering Committee since 2018 and is passionate about working with PA students to help the next generation shape the future of the PA profession. A 2012 graduate of Arcadia University’s PA Program, Annie is currently a student in the Salus University PhD in Biomedicine program, where her dissertation is focused on the predictive ability of admissions interviews on success academically and professionally in PA education.
Originally from East Lyme, Connecticut, Annie currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska. As a University of Connecticut alumni and former UConn Women’s Basketball team manager, she roots for the Huskies whenever she can. She enjoys visiting the ocean, hiking, and spending time with her family and friends.