Positive STRIDES Recognition Program
In an effort to recognize outstanding members of our NYITCOM community who make Positive STRIDES in making our college a better place in this world, we are pleased to provide a special recognition program. The NYITCOM Positive STRIDES Program was developed from the recommendation of the NYITCOM Diversity Work Groups and collaboration with the NYITCOM Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. This exciting program provides the NYITCOM community (students/faculty/staff) an opportunity to nominate and recognize those outstanding members of our community that complete good-kind-positive-inclusive acts that help make the NYITCOM community an even better and more positive place in the world!
We are now accepting nominations! Please provide specific examples and details when nominating an individual for this program. Thank you.
How it works
The program provides a forum for members of the NYITCOM community to nominate other NYITCOM community members for their good-kind-positive and inclusive act(s).Click here to read full program details
Click here to nominate someone
Positive Strides Recognized Community Members ( January 2023 )
Deena Albert, NY Campus, OMS III - Deena is passionate about both medical ethics and health literacy. Among her related interests, she has a strong desire to help spread important knowledge and information about organ donation. To help advance education and awareness for this cause, for several years prior to entering medical school Deena worked with ‘LiveOnNY’- a nonprofit organization committed to ‘helping New York ‘live on’ through organ and tissue donation.’ After Deena began her medical school education, she was asked by ‘LiveOnNY’ to become a medical student ‘fellow’ and act as a liaison between medical students and the organization - with a goal to help increase awareness and knowledge regarding organ donation. Within this unique role, Deena has made valuable positive impacts including: arranging for a transplant surgeon to speak to medical students, developing a voluntary medical student survey to help collect data on organ donation knowledge levels, and faciliating a partnership between NYITCOM students and LiveOnNY for National Donor Month.
Bairavi Maheswaran, NY Campus, OMS II - In 2022, Bairavi founded the NY chapter of ‘We Are Saath’ an organization dedicated to increasing access to mental health resources for the South Asian community through activism, education, and storytelling. Through Bairavi’s management of the NY chapter ‘We Are Saath’ social media account on Instagram, she has created a support group forum for South Asian women that focuses on: increasing awareness of mental health resources and their benefits, advocating to help break negative stigmas associated with mental healthcare, and promoting ways for women to effectively cope with life challenges through healthy suggested means- such as journaling or art. This on-line forum has also provided a space for women to share personal stories and experiences. In addition to her valuable work with ‘We Are Saath,’ Bairavi has volunteered on weekends to teach English and Math to the Sri Lankan Tamil community for over 10 years.
Deborah Heineman, NY Campus, Residency & Career Services, Student Affairs - With a strong commitment toward helping others, Deb has actively worked with ‘Mended Little Hearts’- a Long Island based non-profit organization- which supports parents and families of children with congenital heart defects and heart disease. As one of the founding charter members of this organization, for over 10 years Deb and the other Executive Board members have spearheaded an Annual Toy Drive for Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital/NY Presbyterian Pediatric Cardiology Unit which has resulted in over 10,000 toys being distributed to children at the hospital. Deb’s kind heart and dedication for helping to solicit donations for the Toy Drive through word of mouth, emailing family and friends, and also sharing related information on social media, have brought many smiles to these special children and their families for over 10 year and counting!
Previously Recognized Members
Noor Asif- NY Campus, OMS II - Receiving multiple nominations, Noor is described as a student who has a very strong commitment toward offering her time and talents to help others. In addition to her altruistic activities as a student at NYITCOM, she also strives to help others in her personal life. One example is her involvement as a member of APAG (American Pakistani Advocacy Group), a group devoted to empowering Pakistani Americans through the development, promotion, and sponsorship of various initiatives and programs. In this role she helped APAG establish a scholarship to help cultivate and encourage academic success in youth. In addition, during the week of a comprehensive examination – which can be a very stressful part of the month for osteopathic medical students - Noor spent an entire day working with APAG to assist the needy. She also traveled to Albany, NY, where she spoke to political leaders in hopes to earn their support for the organization. Noor has only been at NYITCOM for one year, but her presence has made the campus an even better place!
John (Jack) Comeau, NY Campus - Physical Therapist/Supervisor, Rehabilitation, Riland Academic Health Care Center - Jack cares about people, patients, students, and co-workers alike! He is father to 4 children and somehow seems to have boundless energy! Noted his nominator: As I was walking into the Riland Academic Health Care Center, Jack came out of the building, opened the front door for me, and asked me if I was coming in for an appointment. I told him I should make one since I didnt know what I did to my knee- not realizing he had seen me hobbling from his window in the PT Department Office. He responded saying, "I could tell by the way you were walking from your car... that’s why I came out here to see what happened." Jack deserves this award because he is always putting in 120% - for others, the school, and his family.... and incidentally, the next day after he treated me (DURING his lunch - at his request), I was walking without a limp and I am still good at the time of this writing!
Lorna Shields, AR Campus, Administrative Assistant, Academic Affairs - Since beginning with NYITCOM just a few months ago, Lorna has worked to create an inclusive atmosphere and a welcoming presence in her campus office. One way she did this was to create a 'welcome to the sweet' party when the Enrichment Specialists moved from another area of the building into the Academic Affairs area. It was a day filled with snacks and sweets that were shared with faculty, staff, and students. Through her thoughtful kindness and consideration, Lorna created a special day of ‘gathering and laughter’ that was much needed and appreciated by all.
Chiya Abramowitz, OMS II, NY Campus - Chiya has proactively accomplished many positive initiatives during his time at NYITCOM. A few highlights include: actively working to establish a Jewish Osteopathic Organization and Network between osteopathic schools to help encourage and enhance knowledge of osteopathic medicine in Jewish communities, being the coordinator of the NYITCOM Interfaith Health Discussion and Keynote Speaker Series which provides a forum for discussion on how faith plays an important role in healthcare. In addition, Chiya also actively works with the Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, and he co-founded a community initiative to help and support young children diagnosed with Epilepsy. Thank you Chiya for your many ‘Positive Strides’ to help others!
Janet Back, OMS II, NY Campus - Janet has been described as the “definition of a person who puts others before herself.” She is known to consistently assist and support her colleague students in many ways - by sharing study notes and materials, helping to provide critical resource suggestions, and even checking up on student’s that may be on temporary leave. Whenever she sees an opportunity to assist her peers, Janet proactively communicates her willingness to help, assist, support, and comfort. Said her nominator, “Janet is an amazing student and person through and through!”
Felicia Bruno, Assistant Dean, Student Affairs, NY Campus: Each year Felicia has proactively worked to raise funds, awareness, and help coordinating teams - for both Lung-Gevity (since 2010) and Making Strides for Breast Cancer (over 28 years). Both of these initiatives are associated with the American Cancer Society. Her dedication toward helping to make a difference and find a cure for cancer has raised thousands and thousands of dollars. She surely has helped many people in need, and also has set a strong positive example of compassion and dedication. Felicia is truly making 'Positive Strides' to Help Others!
Annette Zbodula, Administrative Assistant, OMM, NY Campus: In December 2021, Annette proactively suggested the idea of holding a ‘food drive’ to help others during the holiday season. She then subsequently managed and organized the holiday food drive for the OMM Department and SAAO students to support NOSH (North Shore Soup Kitchen), an organization that provides food assistance to local families which currently works out of St. Hyacinth's Church in Glen Cove, NY. This successful food drive provided much needed food to many local families and individuals. As a result of Annette’s great idea and strong efforts, a total of 86 pounds of donations were collected!
Simranjit Mangat, OMS IV, NY Campus - Simranjit has spearheaded an initiative to improve ‘healthcare issues’ faced by NYC taxi drivers. In July 2019, he created ‘The Healthy Cab’ an informational organization based on Instagram aiming to bring awareness to the health issues faced by this population. In additon Simranjit has completed an independent research project and quantified taxi relief stand access and restroom access (at these relief stands). Simranjit is also currently working with a physician to publish a paper on the necessity of ‘depression screening’ in the clinical setting for the taxi driver population, and he created a free phone app for taxi drivers that helps them locate the nearest taxi relief stands within the five boroughs of NYC.
Sarah Peltz, OMS II, NY Campus - Sarah has demonstrated immense compassion and dedication in her volunteering efforts to help others. As an example, in response to the heroin and opioid epidemic sweeping across the country, during the past year, Sarah has worked with THRIVE Recovery Community and Outreach Center in Long Island, NY, to help individuals struggling with substance use and other addictions receive free support services during the recovery process. Each week Sarah has dedicated hours of her time volunteering at the center to help others, and also has assisted with the center’s fundraising activites.
Kaitlin Unser, OMS II, NY Campus – Kaitlin’s proactive efforts organizing the recent American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians (ACOP) School Supply Drive at NYITCOM resulted in over 500 school supply items being donated to children! Not only did Kaitlin very effectively organize the successful drive, she also dropped off all of the donations to the medical director in Brentwood, NY. The vast array of donated school supplies will surely have a positive impact on the Brentwood community by providing children with needed supplies to help them be successful students. Due in great part to Kaitlin's strong efforts and ‘positive strides’, the NYITCOM community was able to make a very positive impact on this local community and its children.
Amna Haider, OMS IV, NY Campus: Through her proactive efforts and determination, Amna helped advance the development of the NYITCOM Asylum Clinic, which is the first of its type on Long Island, NY. After attending Asylum Clinic Training at Weill Cornell Medical School, Amna decided to speak with her faculty instructor about starting an Asylum Clinic at NYITCOM. She then facilitated a connection between faculty members from both schools, which ultimately helped lead toward NYITCOM establishing its own Asylum Clinic. In support of the NYITCOM Asylum Clinic, Amna has also helped recruit and train students to volunteer. Said a colleague student: Through her passion, dedication and hard work, Amna has helped provide other students with an opportunity to further their communication skills, and also become more empathetic individuals.
Jill Kandelaki, OMS IV, AR Campus: Jill's busy schedule as a full time medical student, wife, and mother, has not stopped her from offering her time and efforts to help others. She is described as someone who 'makes time to serve others in big ways.' In 2019 Jill started a cancer rehab volunteer program, which is still operating today after surviving both the pandemic and a change in program leadership. She continues to actively help train students for this program, so it will continue to benefit cancer patients- even beyond her graduation from medical school. In addition, Jill also organized a Personal Protective Equipment Drive after hearing that essential workers were having difficulty obtaining protective gear due to a supply shortage. Her efforts helped numerous front line personnel obtain vitally needed safety equipment.
Almeet Kaur, OMS IV, NY Campus: Almeet has shown exemplary care for the youth in her community by volunteering her time at her local Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship). Recognizing the recent difficulties and toll on youth in the community, due to both quarantining and online schooling, Almeet dedicated her time toward emphasizing the importance of both self-care and mental stimulation by organizing a Junior Book Club which met weekly (on ZOOM) and discussed various topic themes and how they related to their personal beliefs. In addition, Almeet organized multiple events geared toward educating the elderly population about the importance of receiving the COVID vaccination. She also assisted many families in scheduling COVID vaccination appointments.
Alec Toufexis, OMS II, NY Campus: Alec recently organized three robust food donation campaigns. Through his efforts, hundreds of pounds in non-perishable food items were donated to those in need. He also spearheaded an arrangement with Bombas Sock Company to receive 250 pairs of high quality, durable thread, sustainably made socks for distribution to the homeless population in local communities. In part his nominator said, "His grit, determination, perseverance, and altruism have earned him this nomination!"
Olivia Ballone, LI Campus, OMS II: Olivia regularly volunteers at the People Loving People Food Pantry of Oyster Bay, NY and recently organized a special Community Donation Drive for the pantry. Through her strong efforts, hundreds of personal care, health, and food items were collected from NYITCOM students for distribution to local community members. These needed supplies went a long way in helping clients of the pantry. In addition, Olivia personally delivered all of the donations to the pantry.
Bradford Carley, AR Campus, OMS II: Bradford received numerous nominations for his positive and entertaining efforts toward raising money for the St. Baldrick Foundation to fight pediatric cancer. His unique fund-raising strategies put smiles on many faces, and inspired over 100 people to donate, resulting in $2,200 raised! Throughout the initiative, Bradford proactively campaigned on his own, using social media to advertise the shaving off of his shoulder length hair. His Instagram posts included a variety of techniques including: song, dance, and even a speech. Despite being in the middle of a pandemic, his social media posts reached a multitude of his classmates—many of which he has still yet to meet in person. During this socially distanced year, Bradford's fundraising efforts were a special and enjoyable opportunity for the class to rally together for a great cause.
Saif Fiaz, AR Campus, OMS III: Efforts to implement the Arkansas #VaccinateNortheastAR Initiative required a number of AR campus students to step up and volunteer, and Saif always answered the call for participation. He consistently took a leadership role at numerous vaccination events and proactively helped train other student volunteers on the procedures for implementation of the vaccination events. Said an NYITCOM Administrator, "Saif is always willing to assist in whatever ways are needed and he is an outstanding team member."
Dr. Bianca Lee, LI Campus, Assistant Professor, OMM: Dr. Bianca Lee has been volunteering her personal time one day a week at Nassau University Medical Center to help give back to the public by overseeing and helping to provide COVID-19 immunizations to the community. In addition, she also teaches in the OMM Department two days a week, and is always willing to come in to help teach extra OMM sessions, and glad to stay after class to help medical students when needed.
Mairead Moloney, LI Campus, OMS III: Since skin cancer is so common, yet also one of the most preventable forms of cancer, this past March, Mairead decided to organize a Sun Protection Kit collection drive on campus to collect sunscreen, UV protection sunglasses, hats, and SPF lip balm for homeless women and children at Bethany House of Long Island, N.Y. Through her dedication and efforts over 70 complete kits and 100+ additional supplies were collected and donated. These donated kits and supplies are essential for individuals who may not have resources to purchase sun protection supplies or do not have easy access to a dermatologist for skin cancer screenings. This worthwhile initiative organized by Mairead was truly an excellent way for NYITCOM students to help give back to their local community.
Tenisha Roming-White, AR Campus, Assistant Director, Clinical Education: Tenisha received numerous nominations from colleagues, several noting her willingness to consistently work over and beyond the traditional schedule of Monday through Friday business hours to help and assist others. She is known for often answering her phone late at night and weekends. One colleague noted, Tenisha, aka 'Elmer', is the glue that keeps our department together. She happily assists colleagues and is noted as being selfless, consistent, thorough, and humble. Tenisha is constantly providing help to others. When called upon for her assistance, she is always pleasant, supportive, and available to help.
Breanna Stirewalt, AR Campus, OMS II: Along with the responsibilities of her studies as a new medical student, during the pandemic Breanna made time in her schedule to sew masks for those in need. In addition, she has also promoted community education about COVID-19 and safety protocols, and is constantly supporting her peers with words of encouragement, helpful study tactics, and delicious baked goods.
Mohamad Yasin, LI Campus, OMS IV: Mohamad has been working to create an application to help with the disabled population's accessibility to NYC parks, subways, streets, pharmacies and much more. To promote these efforts, Mohamad has helped film various locations with his GoPro Hero camera and upload them for further analysis. Even with his other time consuming commitments, including both family and medical school responsibilities, Mohamad always wants to help the disabled population and further assist them with their everyday activities.
Brandon Burg, OMS III: In response to the unusual needs arising from the COVID pandemic, Brandon hosted a Technology Drive to collect used iPads, iPhones, and chargers which were then donated to local hospitals to help patients communicate with loved ones when in isolation during their hospital stays
Alexander Campbell, OMS III: Alex has proactively worked to help educate the public about COVID transmission and "best practices" for helping to keep healthy. After speaking at a community housing facility on the topic, he realized this information could not effectively help if the community members did not have access to face masks. He then decided to use his own finances to purchase 1000 masks for low-income individuals who were at high risk for serious health complications from the virus.
Scott Hinson, Academic Enrichment Specialist: Through his altruistic efforts within the community and at NYITCOM, Scott consistently helps many people in need, as exemplified through his recent tornado clean-up efforts, and numerous additional volunteering activities focused on benefiting others. He demonstrates a positive uplifting attitude and is consistently willing to help others.
Amanda Milburn, OMS III: Amanda has been working to create a dance therapy class for high functioning adults on the autism spectrum. She has been inspired by her love of dance to create this program in the hopes of promoting social development and fostering companionship through movement and dance. In spite of the challenges of the current pandemic, Amanda has been working to find creative solutions to bring her vision to reality.
Eilish Moogan, OMS I: Eilish was nominated by numerous individuals and praised for her exceptional kindness, supportiveness, and helpful outreach to her colleague medical students. She often provides guidance, emotional support, takes time to listen, and shares her study ideas, materials, and resources. She is a classmate that consistently goes the extra mile to help others.
Sarah Jane Muder, OMS II: In April 2020, Sarah started an initiative for NYITCOM students to write letters to home bound seniors. This effort resulted in over 600 cards being sent to seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Long Island, NY. In addition, in the summer of 2020, Sarah also organized a program with the Campaign Against Hunger in Queens, NY, for medical students to help build a community garden. This creative initiative promoted a sense of comradery between our medical students and the local community.
Danessia Villatoro, Patient Navigator: Always positive and helpful to patients and colleagues, Danessia started a diaper and baby wipe drive in the Family Health Care Center, and also created a community resources list to help struggling families in need.
Melody Young, OMS II: Melody consistently displays passion and dedication toward helping others. She recently organized a successful pen pal program between NYITCOM medical students and elementary school students. She also leads the NYITCOM Disaster Relief Partnership Group as the President, and has proactively worked on numerous community related events and fundraisers.
Noora Khiraoui, OMS 1, is being recognized for helping to spread awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in medicine and the NYITCOM community by courageously bringing attention to disparities in our educational materials.
Ian Persits, OMS IV, is being recognized for creating and leading a group that collected PPE equipment for hospitals in Queens, NY during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Matthew Heller, D.O, Assistant Professor, is being recognized for being a very strong role model and advocate for NYITCOM students and for proudly representing NYITCOM within our community.
Aurel Apple, OMS IV, is being recognized for founding the Long Island, NY organization, Meals from Med Students, which coordinated meal deliveries to local hospitals for healthcare workers serving on the frontlines during the early stages of the COVID19 pandemic. Aurel's proactive fundraising efforts resulted in thousands of dollars being raised and the delivery of over 4000 meals to healthcare workers in the New York area.
Randy Stout, PhD., Assistant Professor, is being recognized for his extensive efforts during the acceleration of the COVID 19 pandemic. Dr. Stout collaborated with faculty and staff across NYIT to work with hospital physicians and private sector experts to design and create ventilator splitters, PPE, bi-pap connectors, and face clips that were in critically short supply in hospitals in NYC and Long Island using 3D printer systems at the NYITCOM Center for Biomedical Innovation and throughout NYIT.
Sarika Hira, OMS, II, is being recognized for striving to identify a way to brighten the days of children affected by the COVID-19 virus. After presenting her idea to the ACOP chapter at NYITCOM, over 400 homemade cards were sent by medical students to brighten the days of children in the hospital.
Brady Stevens, OMS IV, is being recognized for his efforts toward promoting voter registration and political engagement within the medical professions. His recent efforts of helping to set up and train other medical students to work phone and text banks to provide voters with essential information were instrumental in making sure people were able to exercise their power to vote.