NYU GPH salutes the outstanding graduates who have distinguished themselves through academic excellence, scholarship, leadership and service! These individuals received an impressive array of awards and honors, presented either by GPH at its graduation or by NYU at its all-University Commencement.
Temitope Ojo | Temitope Ojo received her bachelor's degree in Biochemistry, minoring in Anthropology from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. She went on to work in clinical research studies on chronic kidney diseases in Boston, MA, and Abuja, Nigeria. Her research experience inspired her to pursue a degree public health, where she could address systemic barriers to chronic disease prevention and management in struggling health systems. She first received her MPH in Chronic Disease Epidemiology from the Yale School of Public Health. And now, graduates with a PhD in Public Health from NYU School of Global Public Health. Her dissertation focuses on creating contextually relevant tools for assessing the implementation feasibility of cardiovascular health initiatives in resource-constrained settings. Beyond NYU, she aims to continue providing actionable recommendations to diverse and complex health problems as a consultant at Boston Consulting Group. She is grateful to her community at NYU and at large for their support throughout her years of studies.
Jianan Zhu | Jianan Zhu was born in Wuxi, China. She received her bachelor’s degree in preventive medicine from Nantong University and worked as a trainee doctor at Wuxi No. 8 People’s Hospital for one year. She also previously worked as a rotating intern at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Nantong. This working experience sparked her desire to apply statistical methods in the medical field to assist doctors with diagnoses and treatments. With those dreams and motivations, Jianan is graduating with an MS in Biostatistics from GPH today. Her research mainly focuses on high-dimensional data analysis and machine/deep learning, and their applications with medical data. Her thesis evaluates the performance of a machine learning method on heart disease prediction. Jianan is grateful to her friends, family, teachers and staff for their guidance and support.
➪ Banner Bearer | This honor will be given to one student from each NYU school. This student will be carrying their school’s bannear which leads their dean and class representative in the school procession of NYU Commencement.
Jessica Alongi | Jessica Alongi received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston College and has a background in research. She has worked at the Brookings Institution in education policy research and at the Empower Lab in women’s health research and advocacy. Within GPH, she was the director of communications for the Healthcare Consulting Organization and an onboarding ambassador for the Office of Student Affairs. Today she graduates with her MPH in Public Health Policy and Management. Jessica is passionate about health equity and hopes to achieve this through policy. She’s excited to be able to put all of the skills she has learned in her GPH courses into practice throughout her career. Jessica is very appreciative of all of the faculty, staff and students at GPH who have made the past two years extremely memorable and have helped strengthen her devotion to public health.
Sara Bond | Sara Bond received a BFA in musical theatre and a BA in arts administration from the University of West Florida. She spent the next several years performing abroad, and seeing food and health relationships in different cultures inspired her to pursue public health nutrition. At NYU, Sara participated in food media and policy research at the FEED Collaborative with Dr. Marie Bragg, and in breast cancer survivorship research with Dr. Vicki Raveis. She served as a co-president of Nutrition Without Borders, and was a Polygeia team lead and a member of the Global Action for Urban Health Lab. After completing internships at Food Tank: The Think Tank for Food and at Kitchen Connection (a program of the United Nations), Sara accepted a program manager role at the CDC Foundation. She is grateful to her family and husband for their support, and looks forward to the work ahead: championing equitable, fulfilling and sustainable food relationships for all.
Methany Eltigani | Methany Eltigani received her bachelor’s degree in sociology and nutrition from the University of Pennsylvania. During her graduate studies in Public Health Nutrition at NYU, she served as a teaching assistant and joined the Socioeconomic Evaluation of Dietary Decisions (SEED) Lab, utilizing research to inform food policy. She also worked for the NYC Department of Health in the Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention on a project examining the health impacts of the racial wealth gap. Methany received the 2021 Ellen C. Gstalder Memorial Scholarship for her passion about promoting racial and health equity and eliminating food insecurity and hunger. After graduation she will be completing the Wisconsin Population Health Service Fellowship, a two-year service and training program designed for early career individuals in public health. Methany thanks her family, friends and domestic shorthair for their never-ending love and support.
➪ Service to Community Award | This award recognizes outstanding service and commitment to communities through engagement beyond the requirements of the degree.
Graduate Student Award Recipients
Jessica Alongi | See biography under Banner Bearer.
Jay Thompson | Born and raised in West Palm Beach, FL, Jay Thompson graduated from Wake Forest University with a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology. During his undergraduate education he participated in a global public health practicum in Nicaragua. This experience sparked his interest in global public health, and he applied to the Peace Corps. But an invitation to Peace Corps Ukraine suddenly changed due to the ongoing pandemic. Jay pivoted toward an MPH degree at NYU to continue his passion for addressing the most challenging health problems. At GPH, Jay worked as a graduate assistant for New York City Treats Tobacco, led as a senator in the Student Governing Council, and worked to create meaningful experiences for his fellow peers. Outside of school, Jay has interned at Resolve to Save Lives. In his free time, he hikes around upstate New York and enjoys weekly museum adventures.
Undergraduate Student Award Recipients
Oishi Goswami | Oishi Goswami is receiving her bachelor’s degree today in Global Public Health and Sociology. She has served on the NYU GPH Student Governing Council for most of her undergraduate career as the communications liaison, secretary and undergraduate president. By hosting town halls and organizing engaging events highlighting public health issues, she’s proud to have represented and advocated for such a passionate community. Through precisely this learning by serving, Oishi realized how she can blend her passions for policy and changemaking in healthcare. She is supremely grateful for her transformative experiences in this diverse and vibrant city, as well as to her friends, parents, mentors and classmates for their immense support. After graduation she will be continuing at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, and will matriculate into the MPH program at the Yale School of Public Health.
Angela Zhai | Hailing from Westport, CT, Angela Zhai will receive her Bachelor of Science today in Global Public Health and Chemistry. She interned for the survivor program at Tell Every Amazing Lady About Ovarian Cancer (T.E.A.L.©), before writing and presenting a research paper about the barriers to ovarian cancer care. As an undergraduate Global Public Health Ambassador for GPH, she has attended weekly meetings and worked with administrative faculty to organize events for the student body and to improve the GPH major. Angela also earned a minor in studio art, which allows her to explore her lifelong interest in art alongside her major studies. She is a contributing artist for Generasian, a student publication that highlights the voices of Asian American Pacific Islanders. Angela is grateful to her family and friends for their continuous support, and is excited to see where her GPH degree will take her.
➪ Public Health Social Justice Award | This award recognizes exceptional contributions to improving the life conditions of vulnerable individuals or communities.
Graduate Student Award Recipient
Khadija Kamara | Khadija Kamara is a Sierra Leonean-American, MPH graduate and public health practitioner with a desire to empower communities through community based, sustainable interventions. During her program, she became an NYU Africa House Thoyer Research Fellow, where she studied the “Barriers to Health for Women in Kroo Bay Slums, Freetown, Sierra Leone.” She is also a William N. Rom Climate Research Fellow studying “The Effects of Extreme Temperatures on Black, Pregnant Women Living in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.” She created a documentary team of NYU students to develop Dying to Give Birth, a documentary highlighting the preventable factors causing Black maternal mortality. Khadija won the Patricia M. Carey Changemaker Award for her commitment to enriching and providing service to vulnerable communities. She is grateful to her family and friends for supporting and believing in her, especially her parents, Hassan and Rugie. Last but certainly not least, she is a proud African.
Haley Ritsema | Originally from Grand Rapids, MI, Haley studied biomedical sciences and nutrition at Western Michigan University. She graduates today with an MPH in Epidemiology. Haley is passionate about health and human rights, especially as it relates to forcibly displaced persons. By taking a human rights-based approach to reducing health disparities, she advocates for a more just world. Her philosophy is informed by her experiences with refugees and asylum seekers both domestically and abroad, having worked at the Greek-Turkish border twice in medical and legal capacities. Haley was actively involved with HealthRight International throughout her time at NYU, as an intern with their Human Rights Clinic and as a research assistant. She is grateful to her family for their support and belief in her; to her best friend in Thailand for her infinite phone calls and fresh perspectives; and to the incredible community here in New York City for modeling how to be disagreeable in the face of injustice.
Undergraduate Student Award Recipient
Emily Natsuki DeGeorge | Emily was born in Honolulu and grew up in Princeton and Tokyo. She began at NYU in the Liberal Studies program, majoring in Global Public Health and Anthropology. Her studies influenced her to conduct research evaluating racial disparities in digital health clinical trials and in research surrounding behavioral interventions. Noticing a gap in students’ education with the transition to online schooling at the start of the pandemic, Emily established a tutoring/fundraising program that simultaneously supported students and NYC hospitals. Upon graduating, Emily hopes to attend medical school and realize her goal of becoming a physician. Guided by a belief that healthcare is a human right, she’s eager to promote social justice through public health. Emily is extremely grateful to her family who has supported her, her friends, and all of her professors and mentors who fostered her passion for public health, social justice and health equity.
➪ Public Health Research Award | This award is given to students in recognition of excellence in the pursuit of research focused on improving the health of communities around the world.
Doctoral Student Award Recipients
Gabrielle Yusim Metlzer | Gabrielle Yusim Metlzer hails from Chicago. Prior to her doctoral studies, she received her bachelor’s degree in health and societies from the University of Pennsylvania and was a global health research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. Gabriella’s research interests broadly encompass how exposure to environmental stressors create and exacerbate health disparities at critical and sensitive periods of the life course. She uses a variety of methods to explore these issues, including quantitative and qualitative data analysis, community-based participatory research and geospatial analysis. Her dissertation explores how the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in the context of cumulative environmental stress, affected the physical and mental health of adolescents and children in the Gulf Coast region. She’s also a member of the inaugural cohort of the Early Career Innovator Fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. After graduation, Gabriella will begin an NIEHS-funded T32 postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University.
Graduate Student Award Recipients
German J. Rivera Castellar | German was born and raised in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico. Prior to moving to New York City, he completed a Bachelor of Science in microbiology and a Master of Science in research and evaluation of health systems from the University of Puerto Rico. Since his immersion into public health, he has worked on research projects related to vulnerable populations, HIV, substance use disorder, stigma, healthcare access and prevention services. He currently works as a research assistant at NYU GPH and as an intern at UNICEF, where he continues his passion for reducing barriers of vulnerable communities to achieving a healthy life. After graduation, German will continue his doctoral studies in epidemiology at Columbia University, with a focus on the social determinants of HIV. As a Puerto Rican living in the diaspora, he aims to produce research that benefits the Puerto Rican population and describes the inequitable treatment of the island’s population as a result of U.S. colonial governing.
Undergraduate Student Award Recipient
Alessandro Malave | Born and raised in Atlanta, Alessandro Malave will graduate today with a bachelors’ degree in Global Public Health and Media, Culture, and Communication. To begin his career, he plans to work in research coordination as part of an epidemiological research team; he assisted in research as part of GPH’s Urban Epidemiology lab during his junior year. Alessandro has been working with Dr. Danielle Ompad and other graduate and undergraduate lab members on a cross-sectional marijuana project, assisting with a drug packaging study and contributing to the presentation of research on vaping and tobacco-related illnesses. Alessandro hopes to continue with research on urban locations and drug-related topics, and to eventually pursue a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology.
➪ Public Health Practice and Leadership Award | This award is given to students in recognition of scholarship and commitment to the public health community, and who have enormous potential for future contributions to the field of global public health practice.
Graduate Student Award Recipients
Surabhi Yadav | Surabhi received a bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in dental surgery in India, where she organized free dental checkup camps and participated in tobacco prevention and cessation programs at local health centers. During this time she was inspired to pursue an MPH in Epidemiology. At GPH Surabhi conducted research in the Urban Epidemiology Lab (UELab), worked as a lab leader for the Biostatistics for Public Health course, and was a co-founder and co-president of EPIC (Epidemiology, Prevention, Infection and Control), an academic club for epidemiology students. Surabhi also worked as a graduate research intern at the New York State Psychiatric Institute at Columbia University; on research projects at various NGOs, including The National PCOS Association; and volunteered at the BroadStreet Covid-19 Data Project and NYU Polygeia. Surabhi aspires to become an epidemiologist with a focus on neuropsychiatric disorders, substance use, aging research and women’s health, with health disparity as a focal point.
Undergraduate Student Award Recipients
Oishi Goswami | See biography under Service to Community Award.
➪ Excellence in Public Health Faculty Award | The GPH faculty are asked to nominate a GPH Faculty Member who they feel is dedicated to teaching excellence and providing an impactful learning environment.
Dr. Jack Caravanos | For Dr. Jack Caravanos, life in the field entails jumping onto a motorcycle and navigating the jungles of the Peruvian Amazon to study toxic substances, or traveling to remote areas in Zambia, Indonesia and Bolivia to study lead and other toxic wastes. By cooperating with local governments, his work provides safe, healthy and evidence-based solutions for pollution problems in low- and middle-income countries. In partnership with Pure Earth, an international non-profit organization, Dr. Caravanos works to mitigate the impact of gold extraction using mercury in Peru and Indonesia; his research team plans interventions teaching safer techniques for gold extraction. In Kabwe, Zambia — a mining town with exposure to lead — his work provides safer mining practices as well as policy recommendations to improve environmental remediation laws. Dr. Caravanos teaches Environmental Health for graduate students and Environmental Health in a Global World for undergraduate students. He also provides opportunities for student researchers in his projects in Indonesia and in Ghana.
➪ Faculty of the Year Award | The graduating class of 2022 are asked to nominate a GPH Faculty Member who they feel provides exceptional instruction and care to their students.
Dr. José Pagán | Dr. José Pagán is Chair and Professor of the Department of Public Health Policy and Management at GPH. He has led research, implementation and evaluation projects on the redesign of health care delivery and payment systems. Over the years his research has been funded by grants and contracts from the Department of Defense, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the European Commission and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), among others. Dr. Pagán is chair of the board of directors of NYC Health + Hospitals. He also served as chair of the national advisory committee of RWJF’s Health Policy Research Scholars program, and was on the boards of the Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science and the American Society of Health Economists. Dr. Pagán received his PhD in economics from the University of New Mexico and is a former RWJF Health & Society Scholar.