Each year, IUPUI honors 50 graduate and professional students who demonstrate excellence beyond the classroom—in areas such as campus leadership, scholarly work, and community engagement. These IUPUI Elite 50 represent the best of the best among IUPUI’s graduate and professional students and capture everything that makes IUPUI exceptional.
This year, eleven students from IU School of Medicine were recognized among the IUPUI Elite 50. Congratulations to these exceptional students!
Shivani Bajpai, fourth-year medical student
Being accepted among the Elite 50/Premier 10 of Indiana University is a tremendous honor. I have seen the hard work and ingenuity behind the achievements of my peers, and I am incredibly proud to be alongside them in this celebration. As an MS4, applying for the Elite 50 provided me the opportunity to reflect upon all of my meaningful experiences while at IU School of Medicine. From being Co-Chair of the IU School of Medicine Day of Service to President of Surgery SIG, I got involved in the organizations that shaped who I am as a rising surgeon. On a national level, I joined the first executive board of the National South Asian Medical Student Association to build their Physician Advisory Board. The peers and mentors I had the pleasure of learning from throughout these four years are invaluable; their support means the world to me. I am now on my way to Anne Arundel Medical Center for General Surgery residency and excited for the next chapter of our careers!
Connor Bunch, fourth-year medical student
I am a fourth-year medical student at the South Bend campus. After being named to the IUPUI Elite 50, I am encouraged to continue developing my own character to remain an unselfish leader in my community of future medical practice, ultimately carrying on the tradition of excellence at IU School of Medicine. I serve on the Patient Communication Committee of the Navari Student Outreach Clinic, which provides healthcare to the uninsured and underserved population in west South Bend. I also enjoy mentoring and tutoring the next generation of physician leaders at IU School of Medicine. I have co-authored several scholarly works on thromboelastography, a lab test more widely accepted in Europe but slow to gain traction in the United States. As part of Dr. Mark Walsh’s research group, we have published several studies on improving anticoagulation of severely ill COVID-19 patients with COVID-19-associated coagulopathy. The Walsh research group has also produced editorials and reviews of goal-directed blood component therapy for resuscitation of the hemorrhaging trauma patient. I am currently assisting Dr. Walsh in preparing two invited articles for a special issue on thromboelastography in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. In addition, I am co-authoring a quality improvement report with Dr. Nikhil Patankar on pediatric sepsis recognition and treatment as part of the Children’s Hospital Association Improving Pediatric Sepsis Outcomes collaborative. Significantly, at an average of 19 minutes to first fluid bolus, this report will demonstrate the fastest time to treatment of adult or pediatric sepsis patients in the current scientific literature.
Megan Chiu, fourth-year medical student
Honestly, I am just honored to have been nominated to apply for the award. Many of my role models and peer mentors were past Elite 50 winners and I feel lucky to be among such a group of exceptional student leaders. Throughout my time at IU School of Medicine, I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve on the Medical Student Council and to work on amazing projects, such as the “Fundamentals of COVID-19” course – all with some really incredible peers.
Sara Garcia-Dehbozorgi, third-year medical student
My mother immigrated from Mexico City at the age of 17 and my father from Iran at the age of 13. They came to the United States in search of upward mobility and opportunities. Though they had very little when they came here, they always gave back to their communities. As a first-generation American, winning this award is a tribute to my family who always taught me that success is only meaningful if you take time to give back. My passion in medicine is to be an advocate for marginalized communities who lack a voice when it comes to their health care. My involvement as a community representative in OutCare, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bridging the divide in health care for the LGBTQ+ community, and my participation in the medical Spanish clinical skills course are demonstrations of my commitment to better serve patient populations through cultural humility and competency.
Jamel Hill, fourth-year medical student
I would like to first take a moment to thank my wife and the rest of my family for their unconditional love and support. Winning this award for me was special and I am very thankful for winning it. In some ways, this victory is validation of all my hard work and sacrifice over the years. As I reflect on my time at IU School of Medicine, I am so thankful of the village that has surrounded me and allowed me to be successful despite the obstacles that I faced. I also would like to thank the university for allowing me the space and opportunity to highlight the inequities in our health care system through my research. I pray that this recognition serves as a beacon of inspiration for the next generation of Black students. I want them to know that everything that they need to succeed is already within them and as they elevate in status remember to “lift as you climb.”
Sara Ibrahim, MD/PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
I am very grateful for the opportunity to not only pursue my MD-PhD degree but to also volunteer and build my leadership skills as a student at IU School of Medicine. I have successfully defended my thesis through the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and would like to thank my wonderful mentors for the strong graduate training that I received. My graduate training has helped me understand the importance of furthering medical research, which is something that I am very passionate about. I have also chosen to volunteer at local clinics to help understand the medical needs of my community and to grow as a future physician-scientist.
Daenique Jengelley, PhD student in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
It is a great honor to be recognized as an Elite 50 recipient this year and I am happy to be selected among the other amazing graduate and professional students on campus. On campus, I am the president of the Underrepresented Professional and Graduate Student Organization, an IUPUI Graduate Emissary for Student Diversity, and co-founder of the #BiochemChat Diversity Seminar Series. Off campus, I serve on the executive board of the Indianapolis Tuskegee Alumni Club. The service I do on- and off-campus is driven by passion for my community, my alumni institution, and for underrepresented and minoritized individuals pursing STEM careers.
Helen Li, fourth-year medical student
Medical school has been a whirlwind of growth, from my pre-clinical years at the amazing Fort Wayne campus, to my research year with AMPATH in Kenya, to finding my home amongst the surgical community at IU School of Medicine. At each step forward, I've been supported by the best of mentors and colleagues, so I hope this award honors their contributions as well. I am honored to be standing alongside such incredible colleagues as part of the Elite 50, and I can't wait to see where the next adventure will take us!
Alexa Loncharich, fourth-year medical student
I am honored to be selected for the Elite 50! It is wonderful to receive recognition for all the hard work throughout medical school. I had the privilege of working with several different research teams, including an endocrine surgery group. I've worked on projects investigating primary hyperparathyroidism, and have specifically become interested in normocalcemic primary hyperparathyroidism. I have been exploring different imaging techniques evaluating normocalcemic primary hyperparathyroidism prior to surgery with Alexandria McDow, MD. I have also held various leadership roles including Vice Chair of Internal Medicine SIG, Treasurer of IU School of Medicine Student Research Symposium, and Trauma Coordinator of Surgery SIG.
Courtney Raab, third-year medical student
It is truly such an incredible honor to be named part of the IUPUI Elite 50 and Premier 10, and I could not be more thankful to everyone who has been a part of my journey along the way. A rising fourth year representing the Northwest campus, you'll often find me spending my hours after class heading to the local hospital to help create their new comprehensive stroke program. Planning to pursue a career in neurology, I am most proud of my scholarly concentration project, where I created a stroke specific community needs assessment survey to evaluate knowledge of stroke prevention and risk factors in underserved communities, and I would like to one day roll out this initiative across Indiana. Between neuroscience research, community outreach, and volunteer leadership during COVID-19, I have learned so many valuable lessons out in the community that I would’ve never learned in the classroom. This award is a reminder of how thankful I am everyday to have the opportunity to pursue my passions alongside my academics, and I credit my physician mentors and fellow Northwest classmates for always believing in me.
Brad Rumancik, fourth-year medical student
I am a pharmacist and medical student graduating in the Class of 2021. For the past four years, I have enjoyed the honor of serving my local community in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis as a retail pharmacist. My background in pharmacy sparked my interest in research and dermatology. I have published research on medical malpractice in dermatology, which I presented at a national forum. I have also focused my efforts on injectable therapeutics in melanoma and drug-causation models. I credit my faculty mentors for much of my professional development, and I am forever grateful for the unwavering support from my parents and wife, Anna.
The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
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