24 medical students named 2021 Gold Student Summer Fellows

Gold Foundation funds 10 summer projects designed to help advance humanistic care for underserved communities

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is pleased to announce that 24 medical students have been selected as 2021 Gold Student Summer Fellows, embarking on summer projects to amplify humanism in healthcare and help address health inequities. Each of the 10 projects was selected for their focus on underserved communities.

This year’s projects range in scope and topic, including:

  • Addressing barriers to healthcare access faced by immigrant and refugee communities in Vermont, Virginia, and Israel
  • Developing educational resources for caregivers and children with parents who are incarcerated, as well as creating a manual to guide care that supports families
  • Increasing access to the COVID-19 vaccine for people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles
  • Researching barriers to mental health treatment for expectant mothers from under-resourced, minority communities and supporting access to an evidence-based therapy trial
  • Supporting patients who are at high-risk to connect through accessible and patient-friendly telehealth health education sessions in New Orleans
  • Creating an early screening program to help identify and refer patients with stages of diabetic retinopathy or glaucoma, who are uninsured and underinsured in Galveston, Texas
  • Piloting a training module for medical students, staff, and faculty to educate them on the rights, experiences, and accommodations of patients with disabilities

The Gold Foundation offers Gold Student Summer Fellowships annually to provide an opportunity for medical students to deepen their understanding of the challenges of health inequities, to enhance culturally responsive practice, and to address community health needs. These initiatives, which can be either research or service projects, help students to develop skills to become relationship-centered physicians while addressing a public health need in an underserved population. The Gold Foundation is grateful to the Mellam Family Foundation for its support of this program.

“We are delighted to be funding these important projects,” said Elizabeth Cleek, Chief Operating Officer of the Gold Foundation. “Each of these student-initiated fellowships were designed to enhance community health while offering students an opportunity to better connect with and learn from people in the communities they serve.”

The 24 Gold Student Summer Fellows this year hail from 10 medical schools from across America, Israel and Australia:









Alex Miner, M3 | Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Brain Barriers: Elucidating Complex Language-Based Barriers to Mental Health Resources and Neurological Care in Limited English Proficiency, Refugee, and Immigrant Populations

This project calls attention to challenges faced by patients with limited English proficiency in the free clinic setting, such as lack of access to care, inadequate translation services, and cultural stigma associated with seeking care, which have led to psychiatric and neurological concerns that are under-reported, under-addressed, and more difficult to manage. This project aims to highlight the specific patient, provider, and resource-based variables contributing to mental health inequities, and to pilot interventions to improve psychiatric and neurological care.










Maha Saleem, M4 | University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine

Building Strong Families: Bridging the Refugee Health Gap during the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond through a Virtual Community-Based Program in Burlington, Vermont

This project aims to address essential gaps in healthcare faced by refugee families in Burlington, Vermont. These families face complex health needs due to health illiteracy, linguistic barriers and delayed access to healthcare, further impacted by COVID-19 through the loss of structured, interactive, and in-person community engagement programs. To better meet the diverse health needs of this community, this project will implement a virtual Building Strong Families Program, an online community of patients and their families, community health workers, multilingual interpreters, and public health educators that will cover essential topics through online group-based interactive sessions.










Rachel Gaufberg, M2 | Medical School for International Health at Ben Gurion University

Expanding Healthcare Access to the Spanish-Speaking Community of the Negev, Israel

This project calls to attention the language barrier faced by the diverse and significant Spanish-speaking immigrant community of the Negev region in Southern Israel, who lack access to health-related services in their primary, and often only, language. This pilot project will create a Spanish Translation Program that will develop several tools in Spanish, such as an in-depth instructional video for navigating a healthcare system website and patient portal, appointment confirmation text messages, and a transliterated Hebrew to Spanish call-line dialogue script, in collaboration with PortuHispanos, an organization created by and for members of the Spanish-Speaking community.










Anna Farrel, M2 | The Ohio State University College of Medicine

Incarceration’s Aftermath: Developing Patient Education Tools and a Clinical Manual to Improve Outcomes of Children with Incarcerated Parents

This service project has two aims. The first is to develop a resource library to educate caregivers of children of incarcerated parents and the patients themselves, a population particularly vulnerable to worsened health outcomes as a result of adverse childhood events such as family instability, stigma, and confusion. The second is to create a manual developed with feedback from staff and their families that can be used to guide clinical practice. Such a manual would be focused on how to best support families to help preserve familial connection and prevent adverse health outcomes.


Marissa Pharel, M2; Natali Smiley, M2 | Rush University Medical College

A Clinical & Community-Engaged Approach to Understanding Mental Health Barriers in Low-Income, Minority Perinatal Expectant Mothers

This clinical research project seeks to identify barriers faced by pregnant mothers who are low-income and identify as an ethnic/racial minority to understand the intricate reasons for which they may or may not seek mental health care. In particular, the researchers are interested in engaging patients who are pregnant and eligible to participate in a clinical trial implementing Narrative Exposure Therapy, a short-term, evidence-based treatment modality for perinatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The therapy is suggested to result in clinically meaningful changes in perinatal PTSD severity, which can be a significant complication of pregnancy, particularly among communities with high rates of trauma contrasted by scarce access to mental health interventions.


Sarah Holzmann, M2; Natalie Peña-Brockett, M2; Zachary Josse, M2 | California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine

How the Implementation of Street Medicine Programs among the Homeless Population Reduces the Implementation of the Emergency Department Facilities and Resources in Bakersfield, California

This project aims to identify factors associated with emergency department (ED) visits among individuals who are unhoused in Bakersfield, California, and evaluate the efficacy of street medicine interventions. The study will examine patterns of emergency department use and its associated factors, including acute and chronic disease. Through patient surveys and data extracted from electronic medical records, the project will determine the impact of the street medicine team’s efforts, such as potential reduction of ED visits for this population.


Trisha Kaundinya, M2; Rebe Arteaga, M2; Elizabeth Adams, M2 | Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Disability Advocacy Coalition in Medicine (DAC Med): Creation of a Disability Safe Space Training Module

This project brings attention to ableism, which is prevalent in the healthcare system and adversely affects the experiences of both patients and clinicians with disabilities. The project will pilot a safe space training module for medical students, staff, and faculty to educate them about the underrepresented minority of those with disabilities, covering disability rights, culturally sensitive language, accommodations, and the experiences of patients with disabilities in the healthcare system, with the ultimate goal of creating an inclusive culture of disability in medicine.


Janet Fan, M3;  Haris Pepermintwala, M2/MPH; Sruti Rachapudi, M3 | University of Texas Medical Branch

St. Vincent’s Ophthalmology Screening Program

This project aims to develop a screening program to help identify and refer patients with stages of diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma who are uninsured and underinsured in Galveston, Texas, to the St. Vincent’s Clinic. By offering early detection and intervention, this program will help to prevent vision loss resulting from diabetic retinopathy and reach underserved patients who experience severe visual changes and symptoms and have access only to a limited-capacity clinic. Such patients are at risk of being lost in a backlog and not being seen until irreversible deterioration has occurred, a situation exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Photo of Student Fellows Kidd, Lei, Mehdizadeh

Tyler Kidd, M4; Taryn Lai, M4; and Rana Mehdizadeh, M3 | The University of Queensland Ochsner Clinical School

Student-led telehealth outreach to connect patients who are high-risk and low-health literate

This project will provide support to patients in New Orleans who have limited access to healthcare, and who are low-health literate and high-risk, through telehealth health education sessions led by Oschner Health medical students. It aims to address inequities in healthcare, social isolation, and lack of access to medical care that were highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, in conjunction with limited patient interaction for medical students, also due to the pandemic. The project intends to increase both medical student engagement and patient access to user-friendly telehealth resources that will improve their education and autonomy.


Christopher Huerta, M2; Nisha Choothakan, M2; Bronwyn Stone, M2; Ilana Golub, Austin Burrows, Derek Zhang | The Regents of the University of California, Los Angeles

Assessing COVID-19 Vaccine Perception in a Student-Run Clinic’s Unhoused Patient Population

This project will assess perceptions, vaccine deliberation, medical mistrust, and other barriers to vaccination among people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles, a unique population who face increased risk of contracting COVID-19 due to relatively high prevalence of preexisting medical conditions and close habitation in congregate living settings. The ultimate goal is to increase their access to and participation in the Mobile Clinic Project (MCP) at UCLA’s vaccine administration program. Using data from this research, MCP plans to develop educational resources on vaccines, current vaccination sites, and accompaniment services to physically connect patients to vaccines.

Learn more about Gold Student Summer Fellowships. If you are interested in supporting or endowing a fellowship, please reach out to Pia Pyne Miller at pmiller@gold-foundation.org.

Michelle Sloane, MPA

Director, Program Initiatives

Oversees operations of grants and awards programs to ensure alignment with the foundation’s overall mission and goals.