Graduate Student Ambassadors represent the diverse School of Public Health student body and strive to inspire, connect with and represent, past, present, and future SPH graduate students.
Graduate student ambassadors are available to answer questions about graduate student life, academic programs and student activities. They are happy to share their own personal experiences as graduate students at UMD-SPH. Feel free to connect with them through their email addresses below.
MPH, Behavioral and Community Health
Department of Behavioral and Community Health
Leena Daniel, PhD ’24 (Behavioral and Community Health)
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD, United States
Undergraduate Education: BS Nutrition, University of Maryland (2018)
Graduate Education: MS of Public Health - Human Nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (2020)
My name is Leena and I am a third-year behavioral and community health (BCH) PhD student. While in high school, I realized that diet impacted disease prevention, so I chose to major in nutritional sciences. Although I loved nutrition, I lacked the skills needed to plan interventions that would impact my community. Now in my third year, I feel better prepared to tackle health challenges as a professional. My interests in public health include food insecurity and obesity prevention. Outside of school, I enjoy painting, scrapbooking, and photography.
I am looking forward to hearing from each of you!
LinkedIn: Leena Daniel
Sade Parson, MPH ’23 (Behavioral and Community Health)
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Undergraduate Education: B.S. Community Health, University of Maryland (2022)
Full-time Student | BS+MPH Program
Hi! My name is Sade and I am a second-year community health student in the accelerated +1 MPH program at the University of Maryland. I first learned about the existence of public health as a junior in high school and was excited to learn about the amazing power public health professionals have to provide an upstream, preventative approach to health. As a graduate public health student, I am passionate about enhancing the health and wellness of youth and young adult populations of color through health education, promotion, and advocacy efforts. As said by Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I intend to use this weapon to give individuals the skills, resources, and support needed to live healthy lifestyles and help those around them.
I look forward to hearing from you and am happy to help in any way I can!
LinkedIn: Sade Parson
E-mail: sparson1@ umd.edu
Shaneta Ford, MPH ’23 (Behavioral and Community Health Program)
Hometown: Washington, DC, US
Undergraduate Education: BS Biology, Washington College (2014)
Hi everyone! My name is Shaneta Ford, and I am a third-year student in the Behavioral and Community Health Program. I love the flexible class schedule because I work full-time at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, DC, and I am a Graduate Research Assistant with the UMD Woodlawn Project. My interests include women’s health, health advocacy, and health equity. Make sure you check out those weekly SPH-G Digest emails because there are countless opportunities to get involved and expand your skill set. Fun fact: I am very adventurous!
I look forward to working with you!
LinkedIn: Shaneta Ford
Taylor Palmer, MPH ’23 (Behavioral and Community Health)
Hometown: Annapolis, Maryland
Undergraduate Education: BS Community Health, University of Maryland (2021)
Hello! My name is Taylor Palmer, and I am a second-year MPH student in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health. As a change agent for social justice, I am inspired to obtain an MPH degree to promote health equity in rural communities.
At UMD, I am a member of the Anti-Racism, Equity, and Inclusion committee. I also serve as a Graduate Assistant for the Undergraduate Teaching Assistant Program (UTEAM) and an Interviewer with the Woodlawn Project. Beyond UMD, I enjoy supporting rural North Carolina counties as a Program Assistant at MDC Rural Forward. I hope to hear from you!
LinkedIn: Taylor Palmer
Tyler S. Huddleston, MPH ’23 (Behavioral and Community Health)
Hometown: Topeka, KS, USA
Undergraduate Education: BA Communication & Spanish, Emporia State University (2017)
Part-time Student | Online Program
Hi, y'all! My name is Tyler, and I am a second-year MPH student in the online Behavioral and Community Health Program! I am originally from Topeka, Kansas, but have lived in the DMV area for 5 years. I moved here after graduating from Emporia State University (in Kansas) to pursue my Masters of Education in Higher Education, Student Affairs, and International Education Policy. I was excited to re-engage with the classroom (virtually, of course!) in public health because I am particularly interested in understanding the health and well-being of college students and the role of college administrators in fostering healthy environments especially around mental health, power-based violence, and alcohol and other drugs. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my dog, Hoagie, volleyball, and cycling!
LinkedIn: Tyler S. Huddleston
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Lauren Kauffman, PhD ’23 (Epidemiology)
Hometown: Laurel, MD, USA
Undergraduate Education: BA Biology & Studio Art, Gettysburg College (2014)
Graduate Education: MPH Biostatistics, University of Maryland School of Public Health (2020)
Hello! This is my second year as a student in the Epidemiology PhD program and my fourth year as a graduate student at UMD School of Public Health (SPH). When I was choosing where to go for my MPH, I chose UMD SPH because I liked the program: the courses, the interdisciplinary focus, and the internship connections. I chose to return for the Epidemiology PhD program for all these reasons, but also because of the people. The professors, staff, and peers are some of the most supportive and inspiring people I’ve ever met. It is truly an environment where we build each other up every day.
LinkedIn: Lauren Kauffman
Anne Mamish, MPH ’22 (Epidemiology)
Hometown: Clarksburg, MD, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Public Health Science, UMD College Park
Hello everyone! My name is Anne and I am a current graduate student at the University of Maryland pursuing my MPH in Epidemiology. More specifically, I'm interested in infectious disease and clinical epidemiology. I also received my BS in Public Health Science from the University of Maryland and really fell in love with the core foundations of public health as a freshman. Currently, I'm a Pathways Intern at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) within the Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation. Outside of work and school, I enjoy baking and running!
LinkedIn: Anne Mamish
Department of Family Science
Rebecca Foss, PhD ’25 (Family Science)
Hometown: Chicago, IL, USA
Undergraduate Education: B.A. in Theatre at Northern Illinois University; BS Psychology, University of Maryland Global Campus
Graduate Education: MPS Psychology, University of Maryland
Hello Everyone! My name is Rebecca and I am a third-year Family Science student at the University of Maryland in the School of Public Health, attending part-time. I'm from Chicago and received a B.A. in Theatre at Northern Illinois University. I obtained a second bachelor's degree in psychology at the University of Maryland Global Campus. I then came to the University of Maryland, College Park, to pursue a master's in Clinical Psychological Science. While completing my master's, I became drawn to the idea of helping larger groups of people in a community setting and found my way to the School of Public Health. At the same time, I work full-time as a communications director focusing on social media. I am passionate about creating content to engage and believe that how we communicate about mental health can tremendously impact overall mental health literacy. I am interested in how mental health literacy, primarily focused on the development and change over time of mental health attitudes and beliefs, impacts mental health-seeking behaviors and mental health management as moderated by digital and media literacy as well as family communication and how mental health education and promotion can have a positive impact. Please drop me a note if you would like to talk about any of these topics!
LinkedIn: Rebecca Foss
Sahra Ibrahimi, PhD ’24 (Family Science)
Hometown: Kabul, Afghanistan
Undergraduate Education: BA Economics, Smith College in Northampton (2017)
Graduate Education: MPH, Adelphi University (2020)
Hello! I am a doctoral candidate in the Maternal and Child Health program at the University of Maryland (UMD) in College Park. In addition to research, I also teach FMSC110, an undergraduate course on Families and Global Health. I choose UMD SPH because of its friendly people and abundant resources. In addition, the Department of Family Science is interdisciplinary and collaborative, which has helped me explore my passions and grow as a scholar.
I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and came to the U.S. at age 14 to attend the Ethel Walker High School in Simsbury, CT. You can learn more about me @https://sites.google.com/umd.edu/sahra-ibrahimi/home
LinkedIn: Sahra Ibrahimi
Lindsay Mallick, PhD ’24 (Maternal and Child Health)
Hometown: Olney, MD, USA
Undergraduate Education: BA Psychology, Coastal Carolina University
Graduate Education: MPH International Health and Development, Tulane University
Hi, I’m Lindsay! I became passionate about public health while volunteering in the Peace Corps in Mauritania (West Africa). After earning my MPH from Tulane University and while completing an ORISE epidemiology fellowship, I discovered that public health research was the ideal combination both analytic and community-oriented work. I then happily worked as a reproductive, maternal, and newborn health researcher for The Demographic and Health Surveys Program--until I realized I needed and wanted to get my PhD! The warm, family-friendly environment of the Maternal and Child Health Program in the Department of Family Science was a natural fit.
LinkedIn: Lindsay Mallick
Becky Shasha, PhD ’25 (Maternal and Child Health)
Hometown: Kumbo, Cameroon
Undergraduate Education: BA Health & Societies, University of Pennsylvania (2015)
Graduate Education: MPH, University of Pennsylvania (2016)
Hi! I’m a second-year PhD student in the maternal and child health program. My research interests include family planning and abortion access, use, and decision-making among women in Africa. I was excited to join the MCH program at UMD SPH because it is nested in an interdisciplinary department and the faculty and students are so welcoming and supportive of everyone’s success. Additionally, I am a graduate teaching assistant for the Global Public Health Scholars program and work as a Program Officer for Jhpiego. Outside of school, I enjoy eating ice cream, dancing and traveling.
LinkedIn: Becky Shasha
Gabriela Loayza, MS ’23 (Couple and Family Therapy)
Hometown: Quito, Ecuador
Undergraduate Education: BS Clinical Psychology, Universidad de Las Américas (2018)
Hola! My name is Gabriela. I was born and raised in Ecuador and currently live in Maryland. I graduated from Universidad de Las Américas (Ecuador) with a BS in Clinical Psychology. After working for a couple of years practicing psychotherapy with individuals, families, couples, and children, I decided to improve my knowledge and become part of UMD as a graduate student. What I admire the most about the SPH family are our diversity and friendly environment. My research interests include work with couples, sexuality, and gender. In addition, I enjoy outdoor activities, singing, photography, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
LinkedIn: Gabriela Loayza
Dara Ogunsakin, MS ’23 (Couple and Family Therapy)
Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Social Work, University of Georgia, 2020
Hey everyone! My name is Dara. I am a second-year student in the Couple and Family Therapy Master’s program. I am from Georgia and received my undergraduate degree in Social Work from the University of Georgia. I came to UMD because of the diverse research opportunities, the unique experience of working in a student-run therapy clinic like the Center for Healthy Families, and the proximity to D.C., which piqued my interest in policy and advocacy work. My career interests center on empowering Black families, maternal mental health, and increasing access to culturally competent mental health services.
LinkedIn: Dara Ogunsakin
Nicholas Warnick, MS ’23 (Couple and Family Therapy)
Hometown: Cumberland, Maryland, United States
Undergraduate Education: BS Family Science and Psychology, University of Maryland College Park (2021)
Hello everyone! My name is Nick Warnick, and I am a second-year graduate student in the Couple & Family Therapy program. I was born and raised in Maryland and received my BS in Family Science and Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park, in 2021. After graduating, I worked as an Administrative Assistant at Kirstin Care, LLC, where I assisted clients in scheduling appointments and matching them to appropriate resources that best suited their needs. Currently, I am a therapist-intern at the Center for Healthy Families in the School of Public Health. My clinical interests include crises within couples and families and mental health issues surrounding the LGBTQIA+ community. I also work as a research assistant for several projects focused on Black Sexual Minority Men with HIV and evaluating a program that provides trauma-informed care to lawyers in the DMV area. The School of Public Health faculty are immensely supportive and driven to assure you receive the best quality education and that you are consistently growing as a student, researcher, and human being.
LinkedIn: Nicholas Warnick
Department of Health Policy and Management
Chu (Judy) Zhuang, PhD ’25 (Health Services Research)
Hometown: Wuhan, China
Undergraduate Education: BS Economics, Math Minor University of Washington, Seattle (2018)
Graduate Education: MHS, Johns Hopkins University (2019)
Hi! I'm Judy! I moved to the US 9 years ago. The Health Services Research PhD program at UMD was a perfect fit for me since I’ve found faculties specialized in the research and methodology area aligned with my interest. The interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the SPH and department really drew me to it. My interest in health services research arose from reading books and my ongoing curiosity to understand the economic and health conditions in children. Working with mentors and peers has been truly rewarding and positive during my time here. I enjoy photography, musicals, yoga and cooking.
LinkedIn: Chu Judy Zhuang
Sunayna Dutt, MHA ’23 (Health Administration)
Hometown: Ajmer, Rajasthan, India
Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Dental Surgery, RUHS (2016)
Hi everyone! My name is Dr. Sunayna Dutt, and I am a second-year master's student in the MHA program. I was born and raised in India and moved to the United States in August 2021. I have a bachelor's in dental surgery and have a strong background in human resources, project management, and data analysis. I believe my previous experience as a health care administrator has given me an overall knowledge of different aspects of healthcare. My career interests include business operations, strategy planning, and healthcare quality. In my free time, I like to read, watch movies, and explore new diners and grills in the DMV area. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions regarding the MHA program.
I look forward to interacting with you all!
LinkedIn: Sunayna Dutt
Selma Osman, MHA ’24 (Health Administration)
Hometown: Accra, Ghana.
Undergraduate Education: BA English and Psychology, University of Ghana (2012).
Part-time Student | Online Program
Hello! my name is Selma, and it's my first year in the Master of Health Administration (MHA) program. I moved to the United States 8 years ago and resided in Maryland. The Master of Health Administration was a perfect fit for my search for advancing my career path. I became more aware of the health sector challenges while working as a Client Service Specialist for Kaiser Permanente. As a result, I became interested in improving the quality of healthcare at the community level and still making an impact at a national level. UMD's School of Public Health provides me with renowned experts in Health Administration plus interactions with unique students of diverse cultures. In the future, I'm interested in working for public health organizations, federal health agencies, and private clinics. I like to dine out and explore the nation's capital in my leisure time. Please don't hesitate to contact me regarding any questions about UMD's MHA program.
I look forward to interacting with you all!
LinkedIn: Selma Osman
Sedric White, MPH ’23 (Health Care Management)
Hometown: Baltimore, MD
Undergraduate Education: BS Public Health Science, University of Maryland (2022)
Full-time Student | BS+MPH Program
Hello! My name is Sedric White and I am a second-year MPH student with a concentration in Healthcare Management. I have a strong interest in Mental Health, which attracted me to this program because of the fabulous education and network UMD offers. Also, I studied Public Health Science for my undergraduate education and I felt very connected with and impressed by the Faculty at UMD SPH. This past Summer (2022), I had the privilege of interning with DHHS, working on multiple projects dealing with internal operations and how they can be enhanced. Other activities I enjoy are playing tennis, golf, lifting, and traveling! Please reach out to me with any questions you have!
LinkedIn: Sedric White
Abena Afari, MPH ’23 (Health Equity)
Hometown: Maryland, USA
Undergraduate Education: BA Biological Chemistry and Spanish, Grinnell College (2021)
Hello! My name is Abena, and I am a second-year MPH student. While an undergraduate student, I took a global health course and spent a semester abroad in a health studies program. Those driving factors led me to pursue graduate education in public health. Some of my areas of interest include maternal and child health, global health, and mental health.
I look forward to serving as a Graduate Student Ambassador!
Katrina Makres, MPH ’23 (Health Equity)
Hometown: Fallston, Maryland, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Biology, University of Maryland (2020)
Hi! My name is Katrina Makres, and I am a second-year MPH in Health Equity student. While working at a camp for children with cancer, I noticed families facing food and housing insecurities as well as high medical bills, which drove my desire to pursue a degree in Health Equity. I am currently gaining experience working with a mental wellness program, and I’m looking to pursue a career that focuses on health disparities in the cancer field. In my free time, I like visiting museums with friends in D.C. or reading. In addition, I’m currently trying to visit all the National Parks!
LinkedIn: Katrina Makres
Jamie Hoffmann, MPH ’23 (Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation)
Hometown: Chicago, IL, USA
Undergraduate Education: Bachelor of Social Work, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2014)
Greetings! I am a second-year MPH student in Policy Analysis and Evaluation. In 2020, I moved to Maryland from Upstate New York (10 minutes from Canada!), where I spent five years working with people who have disabilities. One of the most challenging components of this work was managing the expectations of the State with minimal resources. Often, a policy or regulation did not align with the feasibility and reality of those affected. This is what inspired me to return to school and hopefully thrust myself into the room where healthcare policies are written and decisions are made!
LinkedIn: Jamie Hoffman
Erica Ngouajio, MPH ’23 (Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation)
Hometown: MI, USA
Undergraduate Education: UMD-CP BS Public Health Science (2018)
Hi! I’m Erica and I’m a second-year MPH-Health Policy Analysis & Evaluation student. My alma mater is here at the University of Maryland, where I earned my BS in Public Health. What sparked my initial interest in the field were the first public health courses I took as an undergraduate and the realization of how much of an impact key preventative strategies can have on health outcomes and overall quality of life. What attracted me to pursue my graduate education at UMD was the close proximity to the nation’s capital, the diversity of the student body, and the supportive public health community.
LinkedIn: Erica Ngouajio
Lola Ajayi, MPH ’22 (Public Health Practice and Policy)
Hometown: Silver Spring, MD
Undergraduate Education: BS Public Health Science, University of Maryland, College Park (2020)
Part-time Student | Online Program
Hello everyone! My name is Lola Ajayi and I am a second-year MPH student in the Public Health Practice & Policy program here at UMD. I am also working full-time as a Management Analyst at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) via the Pathways Program and have been at NIH for over three years. Some of my academic interests include global health, communicable diseases, cultural competency, and access to care. Additionally, I am a Graduate Assistant for the HPM Department and really enjoy helping to make our program better. Please feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions. As a Graduate Student Ambassador, I am happy to help with anything you may need.
LinkedIn: Lola Ajayi
Liya Mogese, MPH ’23 (Public Health Practice and Policy)
Hometown: Addis Abeba, Ethiopia
Undergraduate Education: BS Microbiology, Université Paul Sabatier Toulouse III (2013)
Part-time Student | Online Program
Hello! My name is Liya Mogese and I am a second-year MPH student in the Public Health Practice and Policy program. Originally from Ethiopia, I studied in France on a scholarship program and obtained my BS in Microbiology. After joining my family in Maryland in 2014, I decided to pursue my career in public health. Six years of professional growth from hospitality to legal went by. I then took an MPH course at UMD, which motivated me to continue my education here. My academic interests include global health, policy, and health disparities. During my free time, I enjoy painting, playing tennis, and sightseeing!
LinkedIn: Liya Mogese
Department of Kinesiology
Jenna Burnett, PhD ’22 (Kinesiology)
Hometown: Indianapolis, IN, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Physics and Mathematics, Biological Sciences minor, Purdue University (2015);
Graduate Education: MS Kinesiology, Iowa State University (2017)
My name is Jenna Burnett and I’m a PhD student in Kinesiology at UMD. My dissertation focuses on individuals with lower extremity amputation who use a bone-anchored prosthesis and the long term health risks. My Masters research at Iowa State University focused on tibial stress before and after a long run. I have really enjoyed the research diversity and collaboration within SPH and my department at UMD; there is a wide variety of research, and I find the focus on public health rewarding. My hobbies include backpacking, and cooking, with my latest backpacking trip this past October in Utah!
Linkedin: Jenna Burnett
Sara Mascone, PhD ’25 (Kinesiology)
Hometown: Clarksville, MD, United States
Undergraduate Education: B.S Biology and B.S Kinesiology, University of Maryland (2019)
I was attracted to the Kinesiology PhD program at UMD because it is uniquely positioned in the School of Public Health, allowing for interdisciplinary approaches to physiology research. My research interests include vascular physiology with a focus in oxidative stress, inflammation, and resistance training. I currently lead studies investigating the impact of low oxygen breathing on vascular function in young, healthy individuals and the effects of aerobic exercise training on vascular function in older individuals with and without a predisposition for Alzheimer’s disease. A fun fact about me is that I train service dogs for a local nonprofit organization!
LinkedIn: Sara Mascone
Cynthia Weiner, PhD ’26 (Kinesiology)
Hometown: Springfield, VA, USA
Undergraduate Education: BA Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech (2018)
Hi everyone! My name is Cynthia Weiner and I am a first-year PhD student in Kinesiology. I recently completed my master's in Kinesiology here at UMD, College Park (2022) and received my bachelor's in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise from Virginia Tech in 2018. I was attracted to the SPH Kinesiology program because of the translational research approach employed in the department, which incorporates a public health focus. My specific research focus is on cardiovascular function, with the aim of eliminating health disparities in cardiovascular disease. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and baking!
LinkedIn: Cynthia Weiner
Jailyn Morris, MPH ’23 (Physical Activity)
Hometown: Bowie, MD, USA.
Undergraduate Education: BS Kinesiology, University of Maryland College Park (2021)
Hi everyone! My name is Jailyn and I am a second-year MPH student with a concentration in physical activity. As an undergraduate student at the University of Maryland, I learned a lot about the connections between kinesiology and public health, which led me to my current studies. When I graduate, I hope to pursue a career in consulting, but I am also very open to other options. A fun fact about me is that I was a collegiate athlete!
LinkedIn: Jailyn Morris
Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health
Emily (Emmie) Healey, PhD ’25 (Environmental Health Sciences)
Hometown: Towson, MD, USA
Undergraduate Education: BS Environmental Science, University of Maryland (2018); BA Studio Art, University of Maryland (2018);
Graduate Education: MS Marine Biosciences, University of Delaware (2021)
Hi! I am Emmie Healey. I decided to pursue my PhD in Environmental Health Science with the Maryland Institute of Applied Environmental Health to apply my knowledge of microbiology to the field of human health. My research focuses on laboratory-based water quality testing, but I also engage with homeowners and farmers affected by microbial contaminants. I grew up in Maryland and attended UMD as an undergraduate, so I knew that UMD was the ideal place for me to make an impact. When I am not on campus, I am out walking my dog or learning new recipes for baked goods.
LinkedIn: Emily Healey
Taeilorae Levell-Young Degree MPH ’24 (Environmental Health Sciences)
Hometown: Ceres, California USA
Undergraduate Education: BA Political Science Minor in Arabic, Howard University (2017)
I am a proud MPH student at the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health. I am also a Graduate Lab Tech for The WOW lab, which conducts interdisciplinary research around water - analyzing microbial water quality, the most effective ways to communicate about water quality, and the perceptions and behaviors related to water use. My specific interest in the MIEH program was due to my interest in lead, water, and agriculture globally. As an African American/ Indigenous Natchitoches woman, it is important for me to help minorities and lower-income residents to get the best resources within their community and environment. Additionally, I am a Howard University Alum ( HU..U KNOW). For fun, I teach aquaerobics for Eppley Recreation Center, grow microgreens and fish. I also am a luxury Resin Wall Artist.
LinkedIn: Taeilorae Levell-Young
- Adele Fu, MPH '22 (Biostatistics)
LinkedIn: Adele Fu
- Austin Cantrell, MHA '22 (Master of Health Administration)
LinkedIn: Austin Cantrell
- Claudia Roberts, MS '22 (Couple and Family Therapy)
LinkedIn: Claudia Roberts
- Courtney Cann, MPH '22 (Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation)
LinkedIn: Courtney Cann
- Elizabeth Bell, PhD '23 (Kinesiology)
LinkedIn: Elizabeth Bell
- Ioanna Galani, MS '22 (Couple and Family Therapy)
Linkedin: Ioanna Galani
- Izidora Skračić, PhD '22 (Maternal and Child Health)
LinkedIn: Izidora Skračić
- Katie Costello, MPH '22 (Physical Activity)
LinkedIn: Katie Costello
- Krystle McConnell, PhD '24 (Maternal and Child Health)
LinkedIn: Krystle McConnell
- Regi Corbie, MS '22 (Couple and Family Therapy)
LinkedIn: Regi Corbi