We are a group of medical students committed to producing great content for our listeners. We are lucky to have an amazing mentor, Dr. Kamran Mirza.


Rasa Valiauga

@RasaValiauga

Rasa graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014 and spent four years as a research specialist studying retinogenesis and using stem cells as therapies for degenerative retinal diseases. She is currently pursuing her MD/PhD dual degree at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine.  Rasa has leadership roles in numerous student organizations and is passionate about service, especially spending time with veterans at the Hines VA.  She has an adventurous spirit and loves trying out new activities, as well as throwing down in the kitchen.


Dave Lee

Dave graduated from Gonzaga University in 2014, and completed a master’s at Georgetown University in 2016. He is currently an MD/MPH student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, and is passionate about addressing systemic health disparities in our communities. When he’s not at school, you can find Dave dancing, drawing, or hanging out on a trapeze.


Emily Hagen

@EmilyHagen9

A New York native, Emily graduated from Cornell University in 2017, where she majored in Human Development. She is a current medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. In between college and medical school, Emily helped conduct clinical trials studying kidney cancer treatments at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and volunteered as a Crisis Counselor for Crisis Text Line. She is passionate about all things related to bioethics and has published articles pertaining to wisdom, the autopsy, and discussing death. Emily is also a faculty member of PathElective’s Forensic Pathology/Autopsy module. She is avid about listening to podcasts, writing, and running.


Shawn Choe

Born in Korea and a Chicago native, Shawn is currently a medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. He graduated from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and joined Medicus because of his passion for hearing people’s stories. He is the current president and founder of Programming in Medicine (PiM) which aims to teach medical students programming so that they can utilize this skill for either research or future projects. His hobbies include watching movies, K-dramas and lifting.


Raj Ramini

Raj grew up in Dayton, Ohio and attended Wright State University for his undergraduate degree. During college, Raj spent a year as an AmeriCorps member where he worked with local high school students to address health disparities in their communities. He is currently a medical student at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, where he is also the outreach coordinator for the PM&R interest group.

In his free time, he enjoys listening to podcasts and audiobooks, exploring the city of Chicago, and beating Shawn at ping pong.


Brendan Connolly

Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Brendan graduated from Princeton University in 2013, where he majored in Politics and was Captain of the basketball team. After college, he spent one year in Syracuse, New York with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and two years working as a consultant in Orange County, California before turning to medicine and completing the Post-baccalaureate premedical program at Tufts University in Boston. He also worked as a medical scribe with ScribeAmerica and as a pulmonary function tech at Massachusetts General Hospital prior to medical school. He is now a second-year student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine.

Outside of Medicus, Brendan is the secretary for the Oncology Interest Group and volunteers as a health coach and a hospice volunteer. Hobbies include movies, reading, board/card games, and watching or playing basketball and soccer. He has beaten Raj in ping pong, but not Shawn. 


Lauren Hekman

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, Lauren Hekman graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2019 where she majored in Biology. After graduation, Lauren worked at a healthcare startup company called Forward as a medical assistant. She also spent a lot of time traveling in her time before medical school, exploring around South-east Asia and Central and South America. She is currently a medical student at Loyola University of Chicago, Stritch School of Medicine. In addition to medicine, Lauren is passionate about travel and is an advanced scuba diver. Fun fact, she lived in the Amazon rainforest of Peru for a month where she completed behavioral research on a species of bird called the Hoatzin.


Katherine Mott

Katherine is a second-year at Stritch and a native of Minnetonka, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s in Biology. Before joining the Medicus team, Katherine worked as a nursing assistant at a community hospital, served as a Promise Fellow through AmeriCorps, and worked at nursing homes throughout high school. Her interests include storytelling, caring for the elderly, and all things Chicago (hot dogs, running on Lakeshore Drive, stand-up comedy, the White Sox, etc.). She also currently serves as a Senior and Caregiver Intern at the Quinn Center of St. Eulalia in Maywood, IL.

Olivia Gyssler

@oliviagyssler 

Olivia grew up in Riverside, Illinois and is now a medical student just down the road at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with her Bachelors of Science in Molecular & Cellular Biology with certificates in Neuroscience and Cell & Developmental Biology. She is passionate about mentorship for underprivileged students interested in pursuing careers in medicine, as well as healthcare for underserved/uninsured patients. Olivia is also the Director of Medical Spanish and one of the M1 Coordinators for Community Health Clinic. She enjoys true-crime podcasts, reading, and visiting new ice cream shops around the Chicago-land area. 

Monica Contractor

@monica_med24

Monica Contractor is a medical student at Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine (Class of ‘24). She is a city girl at heart– born and raised in the best city, Chicago! She graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a major in Psychology and a minor in Biology. Since college, Monica has been dedicated to increasing awareness about gender based violence and supporting survivors. She is passionate about community organizing, social justice, advocacy/activism, comprehensive health education, bioethics, health psychology, women’s health, and global & community health. In her free time, Monica loves karaoke, dancing, exploring cultures through food, watching Grey’s Anatomy, and having fun in the city. 


Brittany Zelch

@BrittanyZelch

Brittany is currently a medical student at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s in Biology and a minor in Global Health Studies. After college, she worked for three years at a nonprofit focused on leadership development in global health equity. Brittany went back to school full-time and received her Masters in Medical Sciences at Loyola University Chicago. Outside of Medicus, Brittany is the Director of Education for the Academic Medicine Interest Group (AMIG), Course Director for the Leadership Elective, and Vice President of the Jewish Student Association at Stritch. In her free time, Brittany loves listening to podcasts, trying out new forms of fitness (current favorites include cycling and hiking), and spending time on the lakefront trail by Lake Michigan.


Isabelle Tan

Isabelle was born and raised in Singapore, where she attended Singapore American School from K-12. She graduated from University of California, Berkeley in 2019 with a degree in Integrative Biology and a minor in Creative Writing. She is currently a medical student at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Isabelle is passionate about manta rays, basketball, books, and movies with good soundtracks. She is terrible at ping pong. 


Tommy Boland

Tommy was born and raised in Homer Glen, Illinois and is now a medical student at the Stritch School of Medicine. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor’s in Neurobiology. Before medical school, Tommy stayed in Madison, Wisconsin to help work on clinical trials in Transplantation. In his free time, he likes to swim, rock climb, snowboard and watch the badgers in football and basketball. 


Jackie Tarsitano

Jackie is a medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. She was born and raised in the beautiful central coast of California and received her bachelor’s in Molecular and Cell Biology at UC Berkeley. She spent her gap years in New York City researching genetics, performing improv, and working as an EMT.  In her free time, she loves reading, playing with her two cats, and singing showtunes poorly.


Aaron Deng

Aaron was born and raised in San Jose, CA and went to college at the University of California, San Diego. After graduating in 2019, Aaron worked as a clinical research coordinator and eventually started medical school at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Aaron is passionate about youth empowerment and medical education and continues to stay active in both endeavors. Outside of medicine, Aaron is an avid hip hop dancer, sports fan, and computer game nerd. 


Our Alumni

Nate Burstedt

@nburstedt

Nate graduated in 2016 from Brigham Young University and is a current medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. Between undergrad and medical school he volunteered full-time at the Maliheh Free Clinic in Salt Lake City through the Americorps VISTA program and he hopes to continue working with disadvantaged populations in his future medical career. He grew up in San Diego, and although he’s been studying in other states for the last 8 years he still retains a pretentious attitude about proper burrito composition.


Alek Druck

@aleksanderdruck

Alek graduated from Marquette University in 2017 and is a current medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. Alek is involved in a variety of programs outside of his usual coursework, from investigating ways to augment the patient-physician relationship to working with underrepresented populations in the Chicagoland area. His hobbies include skiing, dirtbiking, and (re)learning how to play piano and guitar.


Josh Lewis

@jlewisPhD

Josh completed his undergraduate and PhD studies at Brigham Young University before starting medical school at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, earning him the “eternal student award”. Josh loves learning about and contributing to new research but is most excited about being able to use that knowledge to care for future patients.  In his free time, Josh loves spending time in the outdoors, running, hanging out with family and friends, and getting lost in a good book. 


Mara Peterson

@MaraPeterson01

An Arizona native, Mara graduated from ASU in 2016- Go Devils! She then bought the warmest coat she could find and moved to Chicago to attend medical school at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. Outside of class, she is dedicated to learning about the healthcare needs of the veteran and homeless populations. She also plays cello in a local symphony and is trying to perfect her chocolate chip scone recipe.


Neal Sethi

@3_NS_3

A native of Southern California, Neal graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 2016 and is a current medical student at Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. Between undergrad and medical school, he worked as a scribe for ScribeAmerica. Aside from his usual coursework, Neal is involved in research projects through medical school. He also enjoys playing and watching basketball (an avid Lakers fan), working out, and cooking.


All opinions expressed on the podcast are ours or those of our guests.


Special thanks to our awesome mentor, @KMirza