Kevin Montgomery is a second-year PA student at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin served as the 2019-2020 Student Academy Representative (SAR) for Mercer’s Godsey-Matthews Student Society, and continues working with the first-year SAR to continue developing student engagement at Mercer. Montgomery received his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia, and received a Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to PA school, Montgomery became a Licensed Professional Counselor and worked at two area hospitals providing emergency crisis intervention and behavioral health consults as part of the psychiatric team, in addition to having a limited out-patient private practice.
Montgomery’s goal for the Southeast Region is to engage and motivate PA students in the Southeast to combine and utilize strengths which we already possess, grow and develop strengths we are learning together, and lean on strengths left to us by those who walked the path before us. Montgomery strongly believes in listening first to identify ways and means to better connect, work together, and engage as student leaders in our region and profession.
Montgomery currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife Julia and their two cats. When he is not studying, Montgomery enjoys spending quality time with his wife at their favorite neighborhood tacqueria, listening to Braves baseball, and visiting with friends and family.
Sacred Heart University
Eryka Bradley is a first-year student at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut. She completed her undergraduate education at the University of Delaware, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in neuroscience with a biology minor in 2017. While at the University of Delaware, Bradley worked for the Office of Admissions as a Blue Hen Ambassador giving tours to prospective students and their families. She was the president of the University of Delaware’s Pre-PA Club, and she also served as her sorority’s academic achievement chair. As a hobby, she competed on the University of Delaware’s equestrian team against other colleges in the Mid-Atlantic region.
After graduation, Bradley moved back to Pennsylvania, where she worked at an urgent care and volunteered as an EMT before moving to Stamford, Connecticut for PA school. Bradley serves on her program’s student society board and is a student member of the Connecticut Academy of PAs (ConnAPA) and enjoys learning about advocacy and how to become a leader in the profession through her state chapter. After attending AAPA’s Leadership and Advocacy Summit in March 2020, she was inspired to run for a national leadership position. As the Director of Diversity and Outreach, Bradley looks forward to encouraging more PA students to become leaders in their community and on a national level. Bradley plans to work with constituent organizations and caucuses to help reduce the financial barriers to attending AAPA’s Conference, especially for minority students.
After PA school, Bradley plans to work in women’s health or emergency medicine serving underserved populations. In her free time, she enjoys working out at Orangetheory Fitness, spending time with her family and friends, and watching Law and Order SVU.
Delilah Dominguez is a third-year student at Quinnipiac University, where she is president of her class.
Since starting PA school, Dominguez has become passionate about advocating for the PA profession. She has served as a two-term student delegate for the AAPA House of Delegates, as a PAEA Health Policy Fellow, a University of Connecticut/Area Health Education Center Network Program Scholar, and on the AAPA Student Leadership Committee. She is a current member of the AAPA Joint Task Force on PA Burnout, Connecticut Academy of PAs Legislative Committee, PAs in Hospice and Palliative Medicine, LBGT PA Caucus, and African Heritage PA Caucus. She is dedicated to volunteer work and has completed more than 260 hours of community service during PA school. She was recently named the AAPA 2020 Student of the Year.
Prior to PA school, Dominguez earned a Master of Fine Arts in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama and a Master of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin. She worked as a licensed clinical social worker with older adults in central Texas in hospice care, on an inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit, and as a research associate.
Dominguez is passionate about serving older adults and is particularly interested in end-of-life, hospice, mental health, and LGBTQ health. She believes that the primary mission of medicine, like social work, is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic needs of all people. She is an advocate for social justice and is interested in helping to create and shape policies in the profession that will help improve our healthcare system and provide greater access to health resources.
University of Washington
Alexandria Zena Lahdya is a second-year student in the Seattle cohort of the University of Washington MEDEX Northwest PA Program. She serves as Seattle student representative for Washington Academy of Physician Assistants (WAPA) for 2019-2020 and co-coordinates the student run Peer to Peer Mentorship program at MEDEX.
As a student society member, she works on class fundraisers and engagement activities including participating on the MEDEX flag football and basketball intramural teams. In addition to PA coursework, Lahdya is a WWAMI Area Health Education Center scholar and was selected to participate in the PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship for 2020-2021. She is actively involved in anti-racism efforts and is on the Board of Directors for PAs-LEAD, a national student-run organization advocating for policies and procedures that increase the representation of underrepresented minorities in medicine.
Prior to PA school Lahdya earned her bachelor’s degree in public health with a minor in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley. She has interned and volunteered at non-profits in San Diego and Oakland serving affordable housing communities and clients living with HIV and AIDS. Lahdya worked as a clinical research coordinator at the University of Washington in social work services, end-of-life care preferences, and a variety of bladder and prostate cancer clinical trials. For two years she enjoyed volunteering as a teaching assistant for the anatomy and physiology series at Seattle Central College and seeks to empower pre-health students to pursue a career in medicine.
Lahdya is passionate about palliative care and holistically supporting patients living with serious illnesses. She continues to seek opportunities to advocate for diversity in medicine, universal healthcare, and the PA profession. In her free time, Lahdya enjoys exploring the outdoors, escaping with sci-fi and graphic novels, and experimenting in the kitchen. She also spends a significant amount of time seeking affection from her gray tuxedo cat Millie.
University of Lynchburg
Andrew Louis Freeman is a second-year PA student attending the University of Lynchburg located in Lynchburg, Virginia. He is originally from Rochester, New York where he obtained his undergraduate degrees. He completed his Associate’s degree from Monroe Community College and Bachelor of Science degree at Roberts Wesleyan College in biochemistry.
While pursuing his undergraduate studies at Roberts Wesleyan College, Freeman played division II college tennis, became a certified teaching tennis pro, volunteered as an EMT-B, worked for Wegmans Food Markets Inc. as part of their Service Desk team, and performed as a member of the college’s jazz ensemble. After completing his bachelor’s degree, he worked as an ophthalmic scribe at the Flaum Eye Institute at University of Rochester’s Strong Hospital. He gained experience and knowledge in several different ophthalmologic specialties, particularly cornea and retina. As a PA student and future certified PA, Freeman is committed to partnering with his patients to take control of their health and provide them with the best care and support system possible. He strongly believes and advocates for the importance of preventive medicine and the impact it can make on the quality of life.
Freeman’s goal while serving as a member of the Leadership Committee is to grow in his leadership skills while helping the committee fulfill its 2020 AOR resolutions. He is excited to experience his own personal growth and work toward creating more opportunities for increased student leadership in the PA profession. He is looking forward to serving on the Leadership Committee and is excited about what it can accomplish.
In his free time, Freeman enjoys playing tennis, biking, hiking, following the Buffalo Bills, and spending time with friends and family.
Bari Peyser is a second-year student at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She is passionate about advocating for PA students and the PA profession, as well as for underserved populations. Peyser believes that awareness of and engagement in the PA profession starts at the student level and that access to and quality of healthcare must be increased and improved. Since starting PA school, she has been eager to make progress in these areas, and has gotten more involved in healthcare policymaking, as well as the PA profession.
Peyser served as a student delegate for the AAPA House of Delegates during the 2019-2020 term and is excited to serve her second term this year. She was selected to serve as a University of Connecticut/Area Health Education Center Network Program Scholar for the duration of her PA program, which focuses on prevention and primary care in Connecticut’s urban underserved communities. In this unique program, Peyser collaborates with students across other health disciplines to provide a holistic approach to healthcare for special patient populations, including the underserved. This program also provides her with the ability to still go above and beyond in her commitment to community service, even with the demands of PA school. Peyser is dedicated to volunteer work and her goal is to further increase her involvement in the next year.
Prior to PA school, Peyser earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance and a Bachelor of Science in Global and International Studies, as well as a minor in Spanish, from The Pennsylvania State University. She interned during college on Wall Street at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and continued working for the firm full-time post-graduation. She spent time in various roles across the firm including: Investment Banking, Prime Brokerage, Credit Derivatives Trading, Strategy and Process Improvement, Business Resiliency and Crisis Management, and Human Resources. Peyser wanted to more tangibly help others, make change, and make a positive impact in the world, which led her to the PA profession. She looks forward to continuing this journey and increasing her involvement in AAPA.
Crista Watson is a first-year PA student at Chatham University School of Health Sciences in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Science in human nutrition, foods, and exercise from Virginia Tech, and recently graduated in May 2020 with a Master of Business Administration from the University of Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics.
Prior to PA school, Watson also obtained clinical experience working as a CNA in Houston, TX at the Texas Children’s Hospital Emergency Center, and at Houston Methodist’s inpatient cardiology unit. During that time, she observed the important role hospital administration played in delivering excellent patient care and sought to possess both the business and legal competencies to succeed in a complex healthcare environment. As an MBA student, Watson worked on a year-long internship as a Graduate Consultant at the UK HealthCare hospital system in Lexington, Kentucky where she focused on completing major projects in conjunction with company executives in areas of healthcare policy, strategy, operations, and supply chain. These projects aimed to improve rural Kentucky’s access to medical resources, and targeted hospital process improvement initiatives. She also served on the MBA Student Association Executive Board as Philanthropy Chair and was able to raise several hundred charitable donations for DanceBlue, a student-run organization that supports the Kentucky Children’s Hospital hematology/oncology clinic.
Watson’s passion for medicine and leadership stems from her international upbringing, as she attended grade school throughout the U.S. and South America due to her father’s career in the DEA. Having lived in several different countries has given Crista a unique perspective on healthcare and has shaped her into becoming a multidisciplinary thinker with a compassion for helping others. When she’s not studying, Watson enjoys planning new travel destinations, exercising on rocky hikes, and improving her charcuterie board skills to treat family and friends.
Donavan Montague is a first-year PA student at the Rutgers University. Montague received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia’s College at Wise with a major in biology and minor in Spanish.
During his undergraduate years, Montague was involved in a multitude of extracurricular activities such as: team captain for the football team, Chief Justice of the student conduct board, student government association, and more. He volunteered for things that may seem small to others like a coat and boot drive at the local elementary school or painting the playground at the elementary school. He also volunteered for a medical mission trip to Belize where he confirmed his passion for medicine.
When he has free time, he enjoys spending time with his fiancé, reading books, and learning new things.
Franklin Pierce University
Elaina is a first-year PA student at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. She is the Student Academy Representative for her program and serves as her class Vice-President. Before PA school she worked as a translational research project coordinator within the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute of Boston University School of Medicine.
Prior to the medical realm, Zizza was a decorated collegiate track and field and cross-country coach for five years. She has also coached sprints and jumps for an elite-development track club.
She holds a B.S. In kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she was also a Division I NCAA Track and Field athlete. Zizza also holds an MS in Sport and Exercise Psychology from Springfield College.
Conrey is a second-year PA student from DeSales University. A student in the five-year program at DeSales University, she graduated with a B.S. in medical studies in May 2020. Throughout her undergraduate years at DeSales, she was a class representative for the PA Undergraduate Pack (PUPs) which helps connect undergraduate PA students and first year PA students. As a first year PA student, she served as Vice President of PUPs where she helped educate rising PA students about the PA profession while guiding and encouraging them to persevere during the rigorous accelerated program. She helped organize various community service projects within the club such as creating and decorating holiday cards for the homeless men at the DeSales Free Clinic.
In addition, she is currently a volunteer with the DeSales Free Clinic located in Allentown, Pennsylvania which provides free medical care for the homeless population. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors running, hiking, and kayaking. She looks forward to serving on the Leadership Committee this year and hopes to make valuable contributions that will make positive impacts on the PA profession for years to come.
Jim Jacobs is a second-year PA student at Monmouth University in Long Branch, New Jersey, and is interested in emergency medicine, surgery, and cardiology. Jacobs is currently the Student Academy Representative for the Monmouth University PA student society and is eager to begin working with fellow students on the 2020 AOR resolutions that aim to empower student voices and support underrepresented minority students.
Prior to PA school, Jacobs worked in various capacities in emergency departments within his home state of New Jersey. Jacobs graduated from Villanova University in 2015 with a B.S. in biology with a concentration in healthcare ethics. In his free time, Jacobs enjoys cooking and traveling with his girlfriend, reading, watching Villanova basketball, and spending time with friends and family.
University of the Cumberlands
Kathy Melton is a second-year PA student at the University of the Cumberlands-Northern Kentucky campus.
Prior to PA school, she attended the University of St. Thomas where she graduated in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience. Throughout undergrad, she worked with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital volunteering and fundraising for a cure. She served as the executive director and president of her university chapter. Melton was also the president of National Residence Hall Honorary. Additionally, she spent three years as a resident advisor and operations manager through residence life. In her gap year, she worked as a nursing assistant at Carondelet village and in the ICU at Fairview Southdale. To close the year, Melton traveled to Peru to volunteer in a mountain clinic.
In her free time, Melton enjoys spending time outdoors, completing DIY projects, and exploring the city! Her newest hobby is learning to play the guitar.
St. Catherine University
Lisa Barnes is a second-ear PA student at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Macalester College with a major in classical languages.
Barnes found her career path after graduation from Macalester while taking continuing education courses in the sciences at the University of Minnesota. As she prepared to apply to PA programs, she got her EMT certification, began work as a direct care provider in a group home for adults living with developmental disabilities, and started volunteering at Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit that prepares and provides meals to those living with chronic, life-threatening illness. She continues to volunteer there as often as her clinical schedule allows.
Barnes is involved in her student society and served as her cohort’s president from 2018-2019 and has served as president emeritus since that time. In this role she has helped organize PA Week, food drives, and her program’s annual 5K fundraiser. As a Leadership Committee member, Barnes is excited to have the opportunity to help fellow students discover the ways they can develop their leadership skills.
In her free time Lisa loves to bake (arguably too much) for her friends, family, fiancé, and classmates. She is also very involved in the Twin Cities Ultimate Frisbee community where she has been playing since 2006 and been captaining her team since 2016.
Rosalind Franklin University
Meera Tavathia is currently a first-year PA student at Rosalind Franklin University in North Chicago, Illinois. She grew up in Ankeny, Iowa and attended the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor for college. Tavathia graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biopsychology and was active in student leadership, research, and serving the community while at Michigan.
After her undergraduate studies, Tavathia worked in breast cancer clinical research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in NYC and emergency medicine interventional research at the University of Michigan. She then pursued her Master’s in public health at Michigan State University and completed her practicum experience in Salvador, Brazil studying maternal fetal medicine and the implications of private vs. public health insurance. Tavathia is passionate about working with underserved populations, improving access to healthcare, and helping to reduce health disparities. Her most recent work experience involved women’s health clinical research in reproductive endocrinology and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
In her free time, Tavathia enjoys traveling around the world, exploring Chicago’s diverse restaurants, reading, playing sports, and spending time with family and friends.
Megan Brinkman is a second-year student at Chapman University Physician Assistant Program in Irvine, California. She currently serves as an officer on the Chapman PA student society as the Community Outreach Chair for the class of 2020.
Brinkman is originally from the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland and completed her secondary education in Howard County, Maryland. She graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in General Biology. During her time at UMD, she was actively involved in community service, health research and advocacy. Brinkman was involved with structural cellular biology research analyzing effects of prion folding and early onset Alzheimer’s. She also worked as a Teaching Assistant for both general chemistry and anatomy and physiology for three years during her time at UMD. However, one of the most rewarding aspects of being at UMD for Brinkman was participating in the Peer Education program as a Sexual Health Educator with an emphasis on female and LGBTQ+ sexual health rights. This program started her passion for educating about Bystander Intervention, which she believes should be taught throughout all levels of education, including PA education. Through the Peer Educator program, she was exposed to, and volunteered for, the foundation Men Can Stop Rape, which worked toward educating young males about toxic masculinity to help create a safer space specifically for the surrounding female and transgender communities.
Brinkman is extremely passionate about the future of the PA profession. She believes that PAs have a unique opportunity to provide high quality, comprehensive medical care to people of all backgrounds, ages, sexes, and genders. She wants to see more comprehensive diversity health education incorporated into the PA curriculum nationally and believes that this is a starting point moving forward in regard to lessening health disparities. In addition, she is a strong believer in advocating for the student voice. After graduation, she hopes to continue to serve her home community of Baltimore, Maryland.
Brinkman enjoys being active and will give any outdoor activity a try once. Her favorite National Park is Zion in Utah. She also enjoys reading and exploring Spotify for new artists.
Michelle Metzler is a second-year PA student at Duke University. During her first year, she served in leadership as the Stead Society Student Academy Representative alternate. She is an executive member of Duke Students for National Health Program and key personnel in research for DukeMed-based Root Causes. She is also working with other school of medicine leaders to bring a White Coats for Black Lives chapter to Duke.
Metzler was born and raised on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. In her early twenties, she traveled the world working with Riverdance as part of their medical team before establishing roots in Austin, TX. While in Austin, Michelle worked as a licensed neuromuscular massage therapist and volunteered much of her time to local social justice organizations.
Prior to moving to Durham, North Carolina, she earned a BSA in Nutrition from the University of Texas-Austin. She is passionate about health and serving the community. She is interested in not only being an advocate for patients, but also a champion to underserved communities to ensure their basic needs are met. To improve the health of the community by providing care and greater access to health resources, she is interested in improving the healthcare system by changing and creating policies nationally and in the PA profession.
In her free time, when she is not writing letters to her legislators or encouraging friends and strangers alike to vote, she can be found running on forest trails with cheese in her backpack, walking barefoot wherever possible, mediating upside down and picking berries or roasting vegetables from the local surroundings.
Natalia Ferrer is a first-year PA student at South College in Nashville, Tennessee. Ferrer received a Bachelor of Science from the University of South Florida with a major in biomedical science and a minor in criminology.
During her undergraduate studies, Ferrer worked in a clinical laboratory in a variety of roles such as a phlebotomist, laboratory assistant, microbiology assistant and molecular research assistant. She also assisted with bone marrow biopsies and helped with lung transplant research for pulmonary critical care. For almost three years she volunteered in a free healthcare clinic for underserved populations as a medical assistant and scribe, an experience that solidified her passion for becoming a physician assistant.
Ferrer’s compassion for others and being an advocate for her patients have been a few of her motivations during her first year of PA school. She balances her PA studies with actively serving the Nashville community as a volunteer at the VA Hospital, Hands on Nashville, Project C.U.R.E., and an AAPA Huddle First Responder communicating with PA students at programs throughout the country.
During her free time, Ferrer enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, and spending time with loved ones.
City University of New York
Rebecca Gordon is a second-year PA student at the CUNY School of Medicine in Harlem, New York.
In the past, Gordon has worked with organizations such as Mentoring in Medicine and Global Medical Brigades to increase healthcare accessibility and quality of life. In addition to providing health related community services, Gordon has also provided mentorship to many of NYC’s public-school students.
She is a born and raised New Yorker committed to working with underserved and underrepresented populations. She hopes to ensure diverse representation in healthcare while increasing awareness on the issues that plague minority populations.
Samantha Holderfield is a first-year PA student at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally from Mahomet, Illinois a small town in central Illinois. She completed her undergraduate degree at Valparaiso University where she took on several leadership roles, as the President of the University Programming Council for two years and several positions within her sorority as New Member Educator and Vice President of Academic Excellence. She has a Master of Science degree from Indiana University in Cellular and Integrative Physiology.
Prior to attending PA school, she had many different patient care experiences working in rural, metropolitan, low income driven, and women’s health clinics. Which have all helped her develop a passion for quality patient care. She also helped conduct neuropsychology research at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana in the lifelong brain and cognition lab looking at memory and cognitive function across the lifespan using fMRI imaging.
In her free time, she enjoys playing with her rescue lab Luna, finding new locally owned coffee shops, exploring wineries and small towns with her family and friends.
Sara Naeem is a second-year student at the Wagner College PA Program in Staten Island, NY. She received a bachelor’s degree in human biology with a minor in sociology from Hunter College in New York City in May 2019, prior to beginning her journey as a PA student.
Naeem is a Staten Island native who worked as a medical assistant in a family medicine clinic while conducting clinical research at a local hospital throughout college. At Hunter, she served as Outreach Coordinator for their Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) for over three years. As a Pakistani-American woman of color, Naeem has a passion for advocacy and promoting diversity within medicine. She is a member of her program’s Diversity Coalition, in which she was elected as Diversity Representative for their student society. This past year, Naeem also served as co-chair for PA Admissions at Wagner where her responsibilities included reviewing student applications and organizing interviews for their incoming cohort.
Within AAPA, Naeem was recently elected as a 2020-2021 HOD Student Delegate. With her new positions in both the House of Delegates and the Leadership Committee, she hopes to be an advocate for those who may not have a voice.
In her free time, Naeem likes to make monthly vlogs with her sister, take pictures, read (historical fiction is her favorite genre), and explore new places.
Tim Pierce is a first-year student at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he currently serves as the Student Academy Representative for his student society.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Pierce’s professional career began upon earning a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia. After several years working within the landscape design and planning field, Pierce decided to change careers based on a growing interest in medicine and a desire to work more directly with individuals within the community. A nearly six-year career as an Atlanta Firefighter/EMT was to follow, ultimately coming to an end as he began the PA program at Mercer University. Outside of his professional experience, Pierce has also been actively involved with several community-based organizations, contributing to their leadership and advocacy efforts, promoting healthy, equitable and sustainable communities.
Pierce is excited to join the Leadership Committee and work with others to increase engagement with the AAPA and Student Academy. He believes that our chosen profession is dynamic and that for its future to reflect our current vision, it is necessary to get involved and stay involved.
Lincoln Memorial University
Paula Miksa is the director of interprofessional education and an associate professor at the LMU PA Program where she is actively involved in many aspects of program accreditation, teaching, course directing, and promoting interprofessional education. She is also actively involved in the program’s annual international mission trips. Miksa has recently graduated with her doctor of medical science degree in education, and has held the title of both director of didactic education and director of clinical education in the LMU PA Program.
Miksa has worked clinically in emergency medicine, family medicine and gastroenterology and she currently volunteers weekly at her local free clinic. She has served on the Tennessee Association of PAs (TAPA) Board of Directors, on several TAPA committees and most recently served two years as one of the TAPA House of Delegate representatives. Miksa is currently the public affairs chair for the South Carolina Association of PA’s (SCAPA).
Miksa enjoys working with PA students and especially enjoys promoting the PA profession locally and nationally. When she isn’t working, Miksa enjoys hiking, running and camping with her family.