I have been fascinated by medicine and the human body since I was a small child. While other pre-teens spent the early 1990s watching the docudrama series, Rescue 911, or the TV drama, ER, I was disappointed in their fictitious nature and scoured the education channels for real surgery shows. I love learning about anatomy, disease, what can go wrong, and all the methods physician scientists have developed to heal people.

In 2014, my first cousin, Kelly, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. She was fortunate; it didn’t affect her much for the first eight years—until 2022. This summer, Kelly had a colonoscopy and a CT scan, the results of which led her GI doctor to refer her to a colorectal surgeon. She met with the surgeon in August and was told her best option was to remove her entire colon live with a permanent ostomy. She was shocked and held out hope for another option.

Kelly had not been a typical Crohn’s patient. No pain. No blockages. No abscesses. No in-and-out of the hospital. She made an appointment for a second opinion at a research hospital. In October, Kelly met with her new physician and his students and was so relieved when he said that there could be a non-surgical option. Her medication treatment has already resulted in improvements.

I want to dedicate my work to people, like Kelly, who need cutting-edge treatments produced by research like that funded by the GastroIntestinal Research Foundation.

I didn’t end up in a medical career, much to the dismay of my childhood self, but I did start out college as a pre-medicine major before developing a passion for the environment and ecosystems and switching my major accordingly. I have 14 years of experience in various administrative roles with nonprofit organizations and look forward to using my skills in the areas of accounting/finance, communications, development, and operations to continue to help the GastroIntestinal Research Foundation grow in its mission to fund innovative clinical and laboratory research to treat, cure, and prevent digestive diseases.