University of Southern California
Cooper Couch is a third-year student at the University of Southern California’s Primary Care PA Program where he serves as president of his class, former president of his student society, and co-chair of USC’s Student Run Clinic 2018-19 Executive Board. After a trip to Washington, D.C. with his class and PA Education Association (PAEA), he became passionate about PA leadership and advocacy. Couch was a 2018 National Medical Fellowships Primary Care Leadership Program (PCLP) scholar where he learned about the challenges and rewards of working in community health centers that offer treatment for those with opioid use disorder. He also completed a one-year student leader fellowship with the LBGT PA Caucus.
Prior to PA school, Couch graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College where he studied Spanish literature and linguistics and studied abroad for a year in Madrid, Spain. At Middlebury, he co-founded a grassroots mental health project that created a peer-support system to better address students’ mental health needs and support campus diversity and inclusion initiatives. Upon graduation, he served on the board of directors at a local humane society in Vermont and worked as a bilingual patient services coordinator at a free clinic and as a phlebotomist at a local hospital. He then moved to Denver, Colorado, where he worked as a clinical assistant at Children’s Hospital Colorado in pediatric hematology/oncology.
Couch values compassion, honesty, and intentionality in his interactions with others. He volunteers at multiple non-profit organizations that support low-income individuals, empower youth, and promote equality. He is committed to working in primary care with medically underserved populations in western Colorado. While volunteering at Roundup River Ranch, a camp for kids with serious illnesses in Colorado, Couch met his fiancé Marty. In their free time, they enjoy long-distance running, cooking, hiking, camping, traveling together, and spoiling their dog Mila.
Bess O’Keeffe is a certified PA working in pediatrics. She received her bachelor of science in kinesiology with a minor in biochemistry from The College of William and Mary and graduated with her master of science in PA studies from Indiana State University in 2019. O’Keeffee’s interest in healthcare advocacy first began while pursuing her undergraduate degree, and some of her advocacy activities include participating as a student delegate with AAPA’s House of Delegates in 2018 and 2019 and being a fellow with PAEA’s Student Healthcare Policy Fellowship 2017-2018. In her spare time, O’Keeffee enjoys getting outdoors with her husband and friends, and she also teaches yoga.
George Washington University
Brad Cundiff is a second-year PA student at George Washington University in Washington D.C. He serves as the District of Columbia Association of Physician Assistants (DCAPA) student representative as part of his program’s Tolton Society, has completed the PAEA Student Leadership Challenge, and was recently selected as a fellow of the PAEA Student Health Policy Fellowship. His passion for PA advocacy and leadership was fully ignited in March 2019 at the AAPA Leadership and Advocacy Summit, where he met with one of his state’s senators and the health policy staff of his state’s congressmen to discuss PA friendly legislation. As a member of the AAPA Student Governance Committee, he is excited to continue his involvement in AAPA, meet the charges of the committee, and ultimately work to strengthen the organization and get other members and non-members more involved.
Prior to PA school, Cundiff attended Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky, where he obtained a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a minor in English. After graduating, he moved to Phoenix, Arizona with his wife where he worked at ASU as an organic chemistry teaching assistant and researcher. He then worked as a medical assistant (MA) and caregiver for the next year and a half as he prepared to apply to PA school.
When he has free time, Cundiff loves to spend time with his wife, hike and camp with his friends, visit national parks, drink craft beer, travel, and do just about anything that gets him outside. In addition to medicine, he is passionate about sustainability and interested in healthcare economics. He hopes to one day integrate all of his interests, where in addition to working clinically, he can work administratively to move hospitals to more economic and environmentally sustainable models.
University of South Carolina
Jamie Sabo is a PA who graduated in May 2019 from the University of South Carolina’s inaugural PA class. Sabo has two passions: public policy and medical science. Prior to PA school, Sabo graduated with a bachelor of arts from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she studied public policy. Her undergraduate career exposed her to the delicate balance that exists between policy and practice. Sabo ultimately decided to take her skills and knowledge in policy to help her new profession as a PA.
While attending the University of South Carolina’s PA program, Sabo wasted no time and immediately was elected as the program’s first AAPA Student Academy Representative. In this position, she traveled to two national conferences which provided the opportunity to connect with students from other programs, as well as a Student Academy Representative (SAR). Sabo was honored to be elected as a Student Fellow for PAEA, where she traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with South Carolina congressmen to lobby for PA student education. Additionally, Sabo was asked to serve on the AAPA’s Governance Commission as the first and only student.
Sabo remained active in local policy by joining the Legislative Affairs Committee for the South Carolina Academy of PAs (SCAPA). In this role for two years, Sabo helped draft and pass a new PA bill in South Carolina that expanded the scope of practice for PAs. The bill was signed into law on the day of her graduation.
Sabo grew up in Maine and enjoys being outdoors—whether it’s hiking, kayaking or passing the time at a baseball game.
University of Oklahoma
Hanna Kluth is a second-year PA student at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Program. Prior to PA school, she graduated from the University of Oklahoma with her degree in health and exercise science, where she was a member of OU’s All-Girl Cheerleading Team and involved in leadership roles within the OU Pre-PA Club and Kappa Alpha Theta Women’s Fraternity. She was also a nutrition, anatomy, and physiology tutor in the OU athletic department. Kluth currently serves as president of the A. William Horsley Student Society, Chair of the Student Committee on the Oklahoma Academy of Physician Assistants Board of Directors, as well as the PA program’s SGA Executive Board Member for the OU Health Science Center. Through these positions she attended both AAPA’s Leadership and Advocacy Summit as well as the 2019 AAPA Conference. These experiences helped foster her passion for the PA profession and advocacy for both the profession and patients. Kluth will graduate in October of 2020 and hopes to pursue a career in either pediatrics, women’s health, or orthopaedics.
Kaci Hardsock is third-year student at Monmouth University in Long Branch, New Jersey, where she has served two years as a member of her student society’s executive board.
Hardsock initially became involved with the House of Delegates (HOD) in 2018 volunteering as a teller and reference committee secretary. This past year, she served as a student delegate of the 2018-2019 Student Academy delegation as well as student representative of Reference Committee D. Hardsock’s passion for advocacy skyrocketed after attending AAPA’s Leadership and Advocacy Summit in Washington, D.C. in March 2019.
Prior to PA school, Hardsock attended Virginia Tech where she earned her Bachelor of Science and studied human nutrition, food, and exercise with a concentration in health professions. During her undergraduate education, Hardsock began her leadership journey as a supervisor of the Fitness Leadership Team. She then facilitated a student-led grassroots happiness project. She also worked as a tutor and freshmen mentor, and developed an interest in education. Upon graduation, Hardsock worked as the chief scribe of several outpatient facilities before pursuing a Master of Science in Kinesiology with a concentration in clinical exercise physiology at James Madison University. During this time, she was the graduate student director of a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the well-being of women and children, assistant varsity cheerleading coach of a Division I program, and a lifestyle coach for a diabetes prevention program.
Hardsock enjoys weightlifting, boxing, attending sporting events, reading, and spending quality time with family and friends as well as her beloved dog, Piper Chase.
University of Colorado
Katie Ganser is a second-year student at the University of Colorado CHA/PA Program where she serves as president of the program’s student society, Silver Society. She also serves as co-lead of the DAWN Women’s Health Specialty Group, where she volunteers both as a clinic manager and as a health professions student to increase access to care for underinsured patients in the Aurora, Colorado community.
Since starting PA school, Ganser has developed an interest in advocating for the PA profession and increasing the support and awareness of leadership opportunities for PA students. During her first year of PA school, she served as a Student Delegate and was the student representative on a reference committee for the 2019 House of Delegates. In her new role as president-elect, Ganser is committed to working with the Student Academy to help develop the next generation of PA leaders at the national, state, and hospital levels to continue to drive the profession forward and provide high-quality, compassionate care for patients.
Prior to PA school, Ganser earned her BS in Integrated Biology from Merrimack College where she also played basketball and served as team captain for her junior and senior year. After graduating from college, she moved to Dublin, Ireland where she served as a Victory Scholar for Sport Changes Life. During this fellowship, she worked with at-risk youth in the community, coached several youth basketball teams, and played basketball in the Premier League. She also earned her master’s degree in Business and Management from Trinity College, Dublin. Ganser then worked as a health care consultant for Boston Strategic Partners where she led numerous engagements focused on developing business and clinical strategies for pharmaceutical and biotech companies.
When not studying medicine or volunteering in the local community, Ganser lives in Colorado with her partner Jim and their dog Bear and spends her free time hiking, trail running, camping, and traveling around the world – and of course to see her family outside of Boston!
George Washington University
Kristen Schoenike is an Arizona native currently in her second-year at The George Washington University PA program in Washington, D.C. She has experience in the AAPA’s House of Delegates, attended the AAPA Leadership and Advocacy Summit, and serves as the outreach coordinator for the GWU PA student society.
Schoenike is passionate about getting students involved in AAPA and in PA advocacy and plans to use her seat on the Student Governance Committee to find creative ways to motivate students to stay informed and get involved in the PA profession beyond the clinical environment.
Prior to PA school, Schoenike earned her Bachelor of Science in biology from Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington where she was a member of the cross country and track and field teams. After graduation, she moved back to Arizona and gained clinical experience in ophthalmology. In her spare time, she trained for and completed a run through Arizona’s grand canyon from the south rim to the north rim and back in one day.
Outside of working and studying, Schoenike enjoys the outdoors, good books, iced coffee, going for runs with a local running club, and volunteering at church.
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.