Meet Our Team

The Underrepresented Student Alliance is an organization founded and run by students at the Albany Medical College. Read below to learn about the students that comprise the USA 2021-2022 executive board!

President

Marcela Morán (She/Her/Hers)

Marcela was born in El Salvador and emigrated to the United States at the age of 9. She is a true El Salvadorian at heart but calls Los Angeles, California home. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and minored in Healthcare Social Issues from UC San Diego. Upon completion of a pre-medical Post Bacc at USCD, Marcela worked at the Keck Medical Center of USC as a Patient Care Coordinator in the division of colorectal surgery. Her academic interests include women’s health and neurology. She aims to work with the underserved Latinx community in her future endeavors. In addition to being the President of USA, Marcela is the secretary of LMSA and volunteers in the Albany community through Care From the Start and Virtual Visitation service learning programs. In her spare time Marcela enjoys traveling, spending time outdoors, trying new foods and reviewing restaurants! Es un honor ser presidenta de USA y espero que tengamos un año exitoso!

Vice President

Marah Jolibois (She/Her/Hers)

Marah, daughter of Haitian immigrants, is a proud native New Yorker. As a Blue Devil, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Duke University and continued her education to complete of Master of Science in Biophysics and Physiology at SUNY Stony Brook. Prior to matriculating into medical school, she worked as a 6th grade science teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She is still in the process of exploring her academic interests, but is strongly considering a surgical specialty. In whatever she chooses to pursue, she hopes to integrate her passion for health equity and accessibility into the delivery of care for her patients. In addition to being the Vice President of USA, Marah is currently a Class of 2024 Representative and the Associate Regional Director of SNMA Region IX, overseeing SNMA chapters in New York and New Jersey. Outside of the classroom, you can find Marah working out, traveling, and brunching!

Secretary

Tyler Jetjomlong (He/Him/His)

Tyler is originally from Middletown, NY and is the current Secretary for USA. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University at Albany, where he received his Bachelors in Public Health. In addition to being in USA, Tyler is also the President of LMSA and hopes to use these roles to better strengthen the bonds between all students that are underrepresented in medicine. He has a keen interest in specializing in surgery--in particular, trauma surgery. Tyler is a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves and plans on doing residency and serving in the U.S. Army as a physician. In his spare time, Tyler enjoys playing video games, weightlifting, hiking, and snowboarding.

Intersectionality Chair

Meheret Mekonnen (She/Her/Hers)

Meheret is the Intersectionality Chair for USA, hailing from Washington, D.C. by way of Ethiopia. She attended George Washington University for most of her education beginning from an early college program where she earned her Associates, to a B.S. in Biological Sciences, to an M.S. in Anatomical and Translational Sciences. After graduating, she worked at Whitman-Walker health, a community health center in DC, as a research coordinator for two years. As of now, Meheret serves as the President of the Student National Medical Association chapter at AMC along with other projects rooted in addressing inequity in healthcare and the greater Albany community.

Allyship CHAIR

Carolyn Rieber (She/Her/Hers)

Carolyn was born and raised in Stockton, CA and got her BS in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior from University of California, Davis. Although unsure what specialty she wants to pursue, she is currently interested in Sports Medicine and Pediatrics and will be a leader for the Pediatrics Interest Group and Double H Ranch Service Learning program for the 2021-22 school year. In her free time, Carolyn enjoys art, baking, swimming, and looking for new local coffee shops. She is excited to be part of USA and to help further the spirit of Allyship at AMC.

PR CHAIR

Franny Kwak (She/Her/Hers)

Franny is a daughter of Korean immigrants, coming to Albany from Fairfax, VA. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from the College of William & Mary. She spent her gap years scribing, teaching SAT classes, conducting research at a Pharmacology & Toxicology lab, and working at Orangetheory Fitness. In addition to serving as USA's PR Chair, she is taking Medical Spanish through AMC, involved in the American Medical Women's Association as a co-leader, AMC Strong Mom program as a mentor, and the OBGYN department as a student researcher. She is considering a specialty in OB/GYN or Pediatrics, but open to exploring other specialties. She loves espresso, music, podcasts, Orangetheory, and getting outdoors!

SNMA chair

Onyedika Nwike (He/Him/His)

Onyedika is the SNMA Co-Chair for USA. He was born and raised in Queens and attended University at Albany, where was part of the founding cohort of the Early Assurance Pathway Program. He currently serves as Vice President of the Student National Medical Association. He thoroughly enjoys watching and playing basketball in his spare time, as well as having thought-provoking discussions with friends. His medical specialty interest is very open as of right now--he is currently soaking in all the experiences!

LMSA Chair

Aimée Capellan (She/Her/Hers)

Aimée was born in the Dominican Republic and emigrated to the U.S. at 12 years old. She came to the Bronx, NY, which she now calls home. Aimée attended the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, where she gained great interest in Chemistry and Mathematics. She proceeded to major in both disciplines at SUNY Albany. After years of research and exposure to various healthcare fields, she decided her true calling was in medicine. In 2020, she joined Albany Medical College to pursue an MD. Her specialty interests include OB/GYN and Anesthesiology (for now) but is ultimately interested in addressing the needs of medically underserved communities (especially in the Bronx and D.R.). In her free time, she enjoys doing yoga and taking films way too seriously

FGLIMed chair

Dakota Wilkinson (She/Her/Hers)

Dakota is the FGLIMed USA co-chair. She is from Colonie, NY, right outside of Albany. She attended Siena College, where she majored in Biochemistry and is interested in Pediatric Oncology. For fun, she likes to play music (she plays the ukulele and trumpet and sings), listen to music, workout, and hang out with family and friends!

BNGAP CHAIR

Amit Ratanpal (He/Him/His)

Amit Ratanpal is a first-generation college and medical student from the Bay Area. He completed his undergraduate studies at UCLA, earning a Bachelor of Science in Biology. Following his undergraduate education, he worked as a pediatric scribe and volunteered with a crisis nursery, a program that supports families in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities. Amit has a keen interest in Orthopedics and aims to provide care to medically underserved communities as a practicing physician. In addition to serving as the BNGAP's USA co-chair, Amit is a co-leader of AAPI (American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin). Outside of medicine, Amit enjoys playing soccer and tennis and is a fan of all Bay Area sports teams. Go Warriors!

AMWA CHAIR

Rida Merchant (She/Her/Hers)

Rida is a proud Pakistani, who grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. (Go Steelers!) She obtained her B.A. in Biology from Siena College with a minor in Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Values. She currently serves as the USA co-chair for AMWA. Passionate about tackling gender inequality in medicine and advocating for underserved populations, Rida is also an active member in AMCRI, an organization that helps support resettled refugee families in the Albany area. She is also a Continuing Care Coordinator for the Capital District Asylum Collaboration (CDAC). Prior to medical school, she conducted head and neck cancer research and is excited to continue exploring the different fields of medicine. In her free time, she loves to play volleyball, paint, and bake fruit tarts!

MSA CHAIR

Ali Alasady (He/Him/His)

Ali was born in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia in the aftermath of the first Gulf War. His parents immigrated to the United States, and he was raised in San Diego. He graduated in 2017 from UCSD with a degree in Neuroscience and Physiology. He was a Research Associate at an Alzheimer's and Spinal Cord repair lab during his gap years, in addition to working as a Medical Assistant. Currently, he is also serving as MSA president and doing research in Neurosurgery.

MSPA CHair

John Dinelli

John was born and raised in the Bronx, NY and comes from a large Italian-American family. He completed his undergraduate education at Siena College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with a minor in Philosophy. Bioethics and philosophy are two of his passions, and he is currently on AMC's M.D. with Distinction in Bioethics track, where he is researching physician conscientious objection of LGBTQ+ patients. He is interested in specializing in OB/GYN and will serve as a co-leader for the OB/GYN Interest Group for the 2021-2022 academic year. In his free time, he enjoys running, cooking, creative writing, and Irish step dance.

DEI LIASON

Valerie Bresier (She/Her/Hers)

Valerie is a proud Haitian-American and native New Yorker. She graduated from the University at Albany in May 2020 with degrees in Biology and Africana Studies and currently serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chair for the Class of 2024. She is a member of multiple organizations within USA and strives to bridge the gap between students of all underrepresented groups. Her specialty interests include Med-Peds, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry. Outside of classes, she is also involved as the Associate Regional Director of MAPS, overseeing all MAPS chapters in New York and New Jersey, as well as SNMA's MAPS Liaison. She volunteers with Care From the Start, Capital District Asylum Clinic, and the Health Equity Project, and is involved in research on transitional care and creating a support group for pediatric and adolescent Sickle Cell patients. In her spare time, Valerie loves art, restaurant hopping, listening to new music, and traveling.

DEI LIASON

Michelle Williams (She/Her/Hers)

Michelle Williams is the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Liason for the Class of 2023 and the Vice President of FGLIMED. She holds a B.S. in Neuroscience from the University of Miami and is originally from Miami Beach, but took a gap year to work as a scribe in the Emergency Department of Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, NY shortly before attending medical school. Her current interests include diversity and inclusion work, as well as neurosurgery.

DEI LIASON

Mercy Adewale (She/Her/Hers)

Mercy is a third-year medical student at Albany Medical College. She earned her BSc. in Biology from SUNY Albany in May 2015 and went on to pursue her master's degree in Biomedical Science and Research at Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences. She is very passionate about learning, helping others, mentoring pre-med students, and advocating for diversity. She currently represents her class on issues related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion on the Student Council. Mercy also served as the Vice President of the Student National and Medical Association (SNMA) Chapter at Albany Medical College during the 2019-20 school year. She worked as the student research coordinator for the Bariatric Clinic at Albany Medical Center. In her leisure time, Mercy enjoys volunteering, cooking, and watching sports.

Faculty Advisor

Hyacinth R. C. Mason, PhD, MPH, CHES (She/Her/Hers)

Dr. Mason received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Grinnell College. She subsequently received her MPH in Health Education and Management from the University of Illinois and a PhD in Preventive Medicine from the University of Southern California School of Medicine where she also completed a NIH Cancer Fellowship. Presently, Dr. Mason serves as Assistant Dean for Student Support and Inclusion in the Division of Community Outreach Medical Education and Associate Professor in the Departments of Medical Education and Community and Family Medicine at Albany Medical College. She, along with her colleagues, work to promote inclusion and equity along the health profession pipeline.

Prior to moving to AMC, she served as Faculty Director for the Meharry Medical College-Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center Cancer Partnership and AIDS Coordinator for the City of Pasadena, California. She is a proud member of the Sosa Academy of Medical Sciences and the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society.