Taylor Bates, DO
Taylor grew up in the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, Alabama, where she enjoyed playing soccer and lacrosse. She has always had a passion for children, and in high school, she was able to develop a love for medicine as well by joining the Health Science Academy. This allowed her to use her class electives to work with a local pediatrician each day. She attended undergrad at Birmingham-Southern College where she played for the Women’s Lacrosse team and majored in sociology/psychology. During undergrad, she worked at Clinical Research Center of Alabama where she learned to take care of patients and developed a love for research. She spent her summers as a camp counselor in the mountains of Northeast Alabama where her love for children and the outdoors flourished. After graduation, she continued to work as a research assistant and spent her free time volunteering at Children’s of Alabama and coaching lacrosse at a local high school. She then moved to Hattiesburg, Mississippi to attend William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine. She spent every rotation possible working with children in various pediatric settings and spent her first summer break in Costa Rica working at a Nicaraguan refugee clinic. She also completed research on HPV vaccine compliance. Outside of medicine, she enjoys hiking with her pit-bull rescue, Mason, white water rafting, cheering for the Crimson Tide, and DIY projects.
I came to fall in love with UMMS-Baystate while searching for the quintessential New England residency program. By the end of my interview day, I was completely smitten. Dr. Koenigs made me feel welcome and at ease even as my cat AND dog embarrassed me by joining my virtual interview! Then, Dr. Mackie spoke with me as if I was already part of his team! Everyone I met was unique and compassionate. After my interview, I couldn’t stop bragging about how impressive UMMS-Baystate was. After learning of the comradery between faculty and residents paired with the many individualized learning opportunities, I knew UMMS-Baystate was the place for me. Plus, I got a kick out of watching peoples’ faces as I told them I would be leaving the South and trading it for the snowy North.
Ahuva Brown, MD
Ahuva grew up in Toronto, Ontario where she enjoyed working as a special education and general classroom teacher before pursuing a career in medicine. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at York University. Her passion for travel and global health was sparked by her time as an outreach worker in Moscow, Russia, which led her to attend the Medical School for International Health at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. After graduating, Ahuva spent a year as a clinical research fellow at The Hospital for Sick Children in the Division of Neonatology where she was able to cultivate her medical research, educator, and graphic design skills. Ahuva loves learning about historical fashion, art and architecture throughout different eras. She also enjoys sewing and designing clothing, embroidery, sketching, reading, and collecting Victorian and Edwardian books.
There were so many aspects about Baystate that aligned with the core values I was looking for in a program. The warm, supportive and fun environment that was tangible during the interview day both from the staff and the residents. The high quality training and the many global health and mental health elective options with the ability to tailor my training to these interests. The focus on advocacy and decreasing health disparities in the community. Not to mention, the incredibly beautiful location in New England.
Maeka De La Torre, MD
Maeka was born in the tropical islands of the Philippines; growing up Filipino, she had an important sense of community and tradition while maintaining adaptability that had carried her throughout emigration to the US and living as a Filipino-American citizen. She spent some time in the West Coast of California before meandering her way down to the deserts of Texas where she completed her undergraduate education in The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as part of the pilot accelerated BS-MD program, A-PRIME TIME. She eventually made her way from the desert heat of South Texas back to the waters at Galveston Island at The University of Texas Medical Branch for her medical education as a member of the pilot cohort, the SEA CHange program. There, she fell in love with pediatrics (and strangely, with writing horror!). Now, Maeka is starting her new journey to the northeast coast of Massachusetts into new (and colder!) waters. The tides are forever changing in her life, but it’s an exciting time! As Roosevelt said, “A smooth sea never made for a skilled sailor.”
Baystate offers an opportunity to really help me grow as a resident; their program encompassed so many of my interests, from their global health curriculum, the lay book club, and their strides towards bettering self-care for their residents. My meeting with the fantastic faculty and staff might have been done virtually, but I felt there was a profound sense of connection and camaraderie during morning report and the resident panel that gave me a real sense of a supportive team dedicated to learning and their patients.
Jessica Leung, MD
Jessica was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Canada with her older sister. She grew up playing the piano, the guzheng and training as a badminton athlete where she often travelled across North and South America for competitions. She attended the University of British Columbia where she received her undergraduate science degree in Behavioral Neuroscience. During this time, she was also a child life volunteer at her local children’s hospital, tutored children through a non-profit organization, and coached badminton to kids which solidified her love for working with children and passion for pursuing Pediatrics. She then travelled across the Atlantic to pursue her medical degree at the National University of Ireland, Galway and learnt about Irish culture while also exploring Europe. Outside of medicine, she loves to go camping, explore new hiking trails, bike, play badminton, and bake for her friends and family!
Starting from the night I met the residents during the meet and greet, I immediately felt welcomed, and I could tell that they were more than just a team; they were family. I believe that it is important to have a positive and supportive team culture to thrive in residency and that is exactly what Baystate encompasses. Beyond the incredibly supportive faculty and residents, I chose Baystate because of its immense dedication to the community and commitment towards helping the underserved population.
Georgios Ntolkeras, MD
Georgios, our PGY1 NDD resident, grew up in Thessaloniki, in the north of Greece. He obtained his MD from the University of Thessaly, GR. Also, he did his clinical rotations in pediatrics, neurology, and psychiatry at the University Hospitals of University of Paris-Est Creteil (UPEC), Fr. In spring of 2019, he joined the Fetal Neonatal Neuroimaging Developmental Science Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he worked on several projects in the field of neuroimaging and neurophysiology in patients with different medical conditions such as epilepsy, SSADH deficiency, and Angelman syndrome. He has also been developing whole-body pediatric numerical models used for numerical simulations. He enjoys music, classic ballet, contemporary dance, and Lindy-hop, hiking, running, basketball, traveling, and trying different cuisines.
The warm feeling that I had after interviewing at UMMS-Baystate was enough for me to make it my first choice for my training in pediatrics. The environment that the physicians and the residents have created makes the program feel more like a family. I felt that this is where I could find all I need to get the foundation that I wanted before sub-specializing in children with neurological and developmental disorders.
Shatabdi Saha Pinky, MD
I grew up in the city life of the capital of Bangladesh, in the dazzle of lights and the rush of life! Being the middle child of the family might have kept me in the rush as well I guess! Following that, I graduated from Dhaka Medical College with honors grade (the better side of being pushed! Ha Ha!). Also, this is where I met my wonderful husband and together we decided to move to USA with the dream of pursuing our career here. And I’m glad we have found our destination here at Baystate Medical Center (he joined as IM hospitalist). We have been living here almost a year and we have fallen in love with this mesmerizing place and the wonderful people here. Besides spending time with friends and family, we love to roam around new places, trying out the restaurants, going to mountains and the most favorite- beautiful beaches! The nature is so amazing here with erratic diversity, that has made an imprint on my music loving soul and spiritual insight and now it feels so special as I am staring my journey of pediatrics at the birth place of all time children’s favorite, Dr. Seuss!
I will say, why not UMMS Baystate! The wonderful balance of professionalism and camaraderie that any resident will be looking forward to, is here which I felt during my interview season. I was specially thrilled by the amazing personality of Dr. Mackie, our Program Director. Such a humble and down to earth person, at the same time, so extraordinarily genius and dedicated teacher! I can’t think of having a better mentor during my journey of residency. Also, maintaining family and work life together here is an extra bonus for me. I am looking forward to the best 3 years of my life with Baystate family here!
Elizabeth Romero, MD
Elisabeth grew up on Long Island but spent her winters in Vermont as a competitive alpine skier. She attended Wheaton College in the suburbs of Chicago, where she double majored in Applied Health Sciences and Biblical/Theological Studies. During her undergraduate years, she developed a passion for service through volunteering in free clinics and on medical missions to Haiti.
Elisabeth then returned to Long Island to attend medical school at Stony Brook. She was drawn to pediatrics by the resilience of pediatric patients and the collegiality of pediatricians. Outside of medicine, Elisabeth enjoys competing in long distance triathlons and has completed 3 full-distance Ironman. She loves hiking, playing board games, and cooking with her husband.
I appreciate the program’s focus on psychosocial as well and socioeconomic determinants of health and feel these are salient elements of prognosis. I am excited to train in a collaborative, supportive environment and to work with a diverse, underserved patient population. As an avid skier, hiker and biker, I am also very excited to take advantage of the natural beauty of Massachusetts.
Natasha Thiagalingam, DO
Natasha grew up in the Boston suburb of Lexington, MA where she discovered her interest in the arts & dance and became an active member of Amnesty International. She went to undergrad at Stony Brook University on Long Island, where she majored in Biochemistry, met wonderful friends, danced on a South Asian fusion dance team & went to the Dominican Republic on a mission trip. During that time, she also volunteered with pediatric patients at the Cancer Center, playing games, creating art projects, and/or just chatting. After college, she worked as a scribe at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Dermatology clinic and as a clinical research assistant on a Home Hospital pilot program. She then moved to coastal Maine to attend the University of New England for medical school, where her passion for medicine and working with children continued to grow. For as long as Natasha and her family & friends can remember, she has wanted to become a Pediatrician, so this is truly a dream come true for her! Her interests outside of medicine include binging TV shows, cooking/baking, watching sports, anything Fall (sweater weather, pumpkin spice everything), and traveling.
I spent my clinical 3rd/4thyears at Berkshire Medical Center in Western MA. During that time, I worked with UMass students, as well as residents and attendings who trained at Baystate & everyone spoke very highly of their experiences within the Pediatric Department. On my interview day, I felt very welcomed by the residents and faculty, and I could tell that they genuinely supported each other & took the time to get to know me, something I had already experienced from alumni. So, I am thrilled to be joining the Baystate family - this New Englander won’t be leaving anytime soon!
Jonathan Twiggs, DO
JD grew up in Pleasant Grove UT on the foot of the mountains where he loved to hike, backpack and rock climb. He later went to undergrad at Utah Valley University where he studied exercise science. He met a wonderful girl, got married and had a few children before heading to Lynchburg VA to attend medical school at Liberty University. In the downtime he enjoys, cooking, board games and still loves to hike.
During interviews, I felt the faculty at Baystate had a genuine interest in me. Both the residents and faculty were very welcoming and friendly making it feel like a great place to work.
Stephanie Vogel, DO
Stephanie grew up in Bellmore, NY where she enjoyed spending summers at the Long Island beaches and eating lots of pizza and bagels. She attended undergrad at Binghamton University where she discovered her passion for working with and advocating for children with special needs. During this time, she helped establish a club aimed to destigmatize special needs called One Special World (now a registered 501(c) non-profit organization!). Stephanie graduated with a degree in Integrative Neuroscience and an Evolutionary Studies minor. She went to medical school at the University of New England College of Osteopathic medicine which further solidified her interest in pediatrics. From working with her pediatric endocrinologist in high school to completing her 3rd year pediatric clerkship rotation, peds felt like the perfect fit! In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing volleyball, and playing board games, especially Settlers of Catan.
Even with virtual interviews this season, I felt welcomed by residents and faculty. It was evident that they are a tight-knit group of people that support one another, as well as the local community. I can't wait to become a part of the Baystate family.
Quinn Asher, MD
Quinn has lived in many places since leaving Rochester, NY, where he spent his formative years. He graduated from Cornell with a BS in Mechanical Engineering then adventured to Australia for medical school at the University of Queensland, spending the first 2 years in Australia and undergoing the second 2 years at the Ochsner Clinical School in New Orleans. He has strong interests in wilderness medicine, emergency medicine, global health, and immigrant health and in his spare time enjoys hiking, martial arts, baking and cooking, and reading.
I was excited to interview at Baystate because of the focus on global health in the program and its location so close to my family. During my interview, everyone I met was amazing and kind and they ultimately convinced me it was the program where I would be the happiest and most successful. I hope this is true and can't wait to start!
Nabeel Hashmi, MD
Nabeel grew up in a small town in Maine called Veazie, where he helped his family run a small motel. He was the on-call manager, housekeeper, landscape artist, plumber, and certified pool operator. Tip your housekeepers, people! While studying Biochemistry at the University of Maine, he worked as a firefighter/EMT for the local fire department and developed an interest in rural medicine. He found a home and a family in the Maine Track program at Tufts School of Medicine, a program geared towards filling the need for rural physicians in Maine. During his time there, he found a passion for Pediatric Neurology and Neonatology.
Growing up in Maine is synonymous with loving the outdoors, but Nabeel also loves reading, traveling, computer-building, and interior design. Growing up with an unreliable vehicle means that he also has an interest in automotive repair. Lastly, he enjoys cooking traditional Pakistani foods for himself and his friends, believing that good food brings people together.
I cannot answer this question without relaying a brief anecdote: It was the second week of my NICU Sub-I and the first week for the interns. One intern was having a particularly rough day. Seeing this, the senior resident texted the intern’s close friend and mentor, who came tearing down from the inpatient unit to help. That was the moment I knew it would be a privilege to join the Baystate family. As a resident at Baystate, I also know that I will be surrounded by a group of kind hearted attendings in a supportive and challenging learning environment that pushes the boundaries of my knowledge daily. When I finally returned to Baystate as an applicant, I was greeted with hugs and laughter. I knew it was the place I left my heart.
Jixi (Lucy) He, MD
When growing up in Shenzhen, China, Lucy aspired to follow this Chinese adage to “read ten thousand books and walk ten thousand miles” in order to be a well-rounded and perceptive person. She enjoyed traveling to learn about the culture and history of different places. As a child she picked up different hobbies that she has kept: painting helps her enter a meditative state and unlock the creative mind; playing saxophone allowed her to join concert band families in China, the US and Israel; learning about Jewish culture taught her ethics and values that she can apply to real life. She also has a huge interest in learning different languages and now can speak fluent English and Chinese (Mandarin, Cantonese), conversational Hebrew, a little French and has just started to learn medical Spanish. From her experience of teaching English to Arabic-speaking Bedouin children and translating for Chinese patients in an Israeli hospital, she truly believe that languages are not just a tool of communication but a bridge between our hearts. It’s easy for her to be happy: a simple recipe, a tasty dish, a new place, a catchy tune, a hearty workout (badminton, anyone?), or simply a big hug. She is very lucky to have an amazingly supportive and open-minded mom who is always standing behind her in every challenge she takes and is her role model doctor, filled with compassion and care for all her patients, families and friends.
I was moved to tears by the personalized interview invitation letter from Dr. Koenigs. She really cares about all of us and our growth. Before the interview I read every resident’s story on Baystate’s website (I can’t believe I’m writing one now!) and I have not seen another program that pays so much attention to each and every individual. I knew Baystate is special when I felt so happy and energized by the end of my interview day. I am attracted to their many unique approaches like intern boot camp, second site, and lay book club. There is also great camaraderie among the residents and a strong focus on personal wellness. I am honored to join such an amazing team and begin my training as a pediatrician in the hometown of the Lorax.
Stephanie Hibbard, DO
As a Massachusetts native from Shrewsbury, Steph is thrilled to be returning home for residency at Baystate. After being away at Marist for undergrad and Liberty University COM for medical school she is thankful to come back to complete her training near her family. From spending a great deal of her fourth-year rotations here, she knew this is where she belonged! She lives with her husband and two cats Poppy and Dahlia. She has had many jobs outside of the medical sphere including a barista and fitness coach. She can make you the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had but prefers Dunkin' for herself. She is a former division one rower who enjoys working out. She is the happiest on cruises with her husband and hanging out with her cats.
I chose Baystate because I felt welcome. The residents and faculty were willing to teach and support me during my fourth year and I felt included as part of the team and I could not wait to come back!
Cassandra Perry, DO
Cassandra grew up the Boston suburb of Sudbury, MA where as a swimmer she spent both summers and winters at the pool. She went to undergrad at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, where she met wonderful friends, swam on the Swim & Dive team and majored in English. She found a comforting balance between improving her reading and writing skills, and studying science in her Premed classes. After college, she worked as a medical assistant/ scribe at a Dermatology practice and spent days off volunteering in the Hands on Care program at Dana-Farber, where she was able to help support patients in mind, body and spirit. She moved up to coastal Maine at the University of New England for medical school, where she further confirmed that medicine is her passion. She fell in love with pediatrics on her peds rotation and never looked back! The people, the environment, the little ones – it all felt right. Outside of medicine she loves the ocean (especially listening to the waves!), reading, and painting.
I completed my first fourth year rotation as a Sub-I at Baystate, and immediately felt so welcomed and supported by residents and faculty alike. I could tell that the residents were sincerely invested in each other and enjoyed each other’s company. I found myself comparing each of my subsequent rotations to what I experienced at Baystate, and am thrilled to be joining this special program.
Rajapillai (Raja) Pillai, MD, PhD
Raja, our NDD resident, grew up in Copake, NY, across the state line from Great Barrington, MA. He attended Yale University where he received his undergraduate degree in cognitive science. He obtained both his MD and PhD from Stony Brook, performing research in PET, MRI, and EEG. He has also been active in many organizations during medical school and continues to enjoy creative writing/play writing, acting, hiking, Dungeons and Dragons, weightlifting, running, music (trombone, flute, euphonium -learning piano and bass guitar), history (mainly through podcasts) and taking care of his cat, Prince.
I am excited to join the Baystate family, both for the welcoming environment and rapport between residents and faculty, as well as the proximity to my family in NY.
Stephen Vorenberg, DO
Stephen grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan where he was an Eagle Scout and attended Michigan State for undergraduate where he earned degrees in microbiology and history while spear-heading an effort at MSU to create a policy for a smoke-free campus. During medical school he continued to run a foundation he founded to promote education regarding childhood/young adult cancers with scholarships for cancer survivors. He enjoys camping, singing in choirs, sports, and cooking and baking.
I chose UMMS-Baystate as my training program because of my interview day. Not only did I receive several very personalized interviews where the faculty clearly knew my application, but I also appreciated their blind interview process which showed me the programs holistic approach to choosing its residents. I enjoyed seeing how comfortable and confident the current residents were on my interview day. It showed me that UMMS-Baystate would provide me with a supportive and nurturing environment that would also challenge me. I cannot wait to see all of the outdoor activities that Western Massachusetts has to offer.
Zoë Warczak, MD
Zoë’s path to medicine involved traveling off the beaten path, which has been a theme for her! She grew up in upstate NY, and studied political science and Slavic languages in college. She got involved with the policy side of starting a student-run EMS agency, and discovered the joy of caring for patients experiencing the challenges of sudden illness or injuries. She continued in her prior chosen career field for two years while also volunteering as a firefighter/EMT, before attending the career-changer postbac premedical program at Bryn Mawr College. Zoë attended the University of Rochester for medical school, where she co-founded a diversity affinity group to improve attitudes towards individuals with disabilities, and also completed an M.S.Ed., focusing initially on teaching medical students about adolescent sexual assault care, before being diverted to focus on community education about COVID-19 for Monroe County. Outside of medicine, she has enjoyed outdoor activities such as hiking, and discovered her inner performer in med school while acting in the medical student-led production of The Vagina Monologues the last two years.
I chose Baystate because I was looking for a supportive training environment that values diversity and inclusion. It was immediately clear to me from the moment I walked in to Morning Report how close the trainees and faculty were! I was also impressed with the opportunities available for training in adolescent medicine, including the college student and LGBTQIA+ populations.
Hannah Whitten-Vile, MD
Hannah grew up splitting time between Lawrence, Kansas and the Bay Area in California with her younger brother. After high school, she followed in her family’s footsteps and attended the University of Kansas for undergraduate, where she has been rooting for the Jayhawk basketball team her whole life. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, met some of her best friends, and participated in research on children with autism. After graduation, she went on a 10 day medical mission to Uganda, which sparked her interest in global health so she decided to move all the way to sunny Beer Sheva, Israel to get her MD at a medical school specializing in International Health. Her pediatric rotations in Israel working with Bedouin, Ethiopian, and Russian children helped solidify her love for pediatrics. In between her third and fourth year of medical school, she took a year to participate in research at the Critical Illness, Brain dysfunction, and Survivorship center in Vanderbilt looking at ICU patients and delirium. Outside of medicine, she loves to play the ukulele, read, watch horror films, travel, follow college basketball, and discuss history with her archeologist boyfriend. Rock Chalk!
After receiving a personalized interview invitation, I knew Baystate was going to be special. During dinner with the residents it was so obvious that not only were all the residents close like family, but that they felt truly supported by the staff as well. I came home from dinner and told my parents this program felt like “the one” for me. Learning about all the community involvement Baystate has with western Massachusetts only strengthened my excitement. Having the program director be a fellow Jayhawk really sealed the deal.
Cason Wortley, DO
Cason was born and raised in Farmington, Utah with his two sisters and one brother. While growing up, sledding, skiing and snowboarding Utah’s “greatest snow on earth” was one of his favorite pastimes!
After graduating high school, and before entering higher education, Cason spent a considerable amount of time living and serving among the people of northern Ecuador. The experience taught him to speak Spanish and acquainted him with Latino life and culture.
Cason attended Utah State University where he earned two bachelor degrees in Biochemistry and Spanish. He also studied abroad with Brigham Young University in London, England, where he learned a great deal about the European people, their culture and history. In 2016, he began medical school at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Denver, Colorado. Since that time, he has always been interested in primary pediatric care.
Today, he continues to enjoy snow sports and hopes to find some great skiing in Massachusetts. Cason and his wife enjoy biking together and are excited to explore the beauty of Massachusetts from its many bike trails.
Everyone I met during my interview was so kind and friendly, not only with me, but also with one another. It was readily apparent to me that this was a program where the faculty and residents were a close-knit group. They had built strong friendships with each other and were genuinely happy. A program with friendly people in a supportive environment is exactly what I had always hoped to attend.
I also chose Baystate because it is a program well equipped to provide residents with ample experiences for learning and personal growth. As the only tertiary care hospital in western Massachusetts, Baystate serves a sizable population of nearly one million people and offers a vast array of specialties. As a Baystate resident, I look forward to the opportunity of gaining extensive knowledge and experience that will prepare me well as a future pediatrician.
Camille Audette, DO
I grew up in Whitinsville, a small town in the Blackstone Valley in Central Massachusetts, with a younger brother, younger sister, and whatever pets we could convince our parents to have. I loved the ocean (still do!) and started my college career in Marine Biology. However, after a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, I realized that I was missing something in my life so I transferred colleges and majors and graduated from Gordon College in Wenham, MA, with a degree in pre-med Biology. I worked in a pediatric primary care office (with my former pediatrician!!) for a few years before getting my MS in biomedical sciences and starting medical school at Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine. I’m interested in primary care, here and on a global scale (I go on medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic), and appreciate the diversity I can see in a day.
I love being outside, particularly by the ocean, and enjoying all the seasons that New England has (yes, I even like the snow). I play the violin and soccer and did so throughout college and medical school. I also did my first triathlon last summer! I love gardening and anything related to plants and I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, cooking and pretending I’m a chef, doing puzzles, watching movies, reading, and being a kid at heart—have to keep up with my patient population! I love traveling all over the world (my mom is from the Philippines!), but with all my travels, I’m so happy to be back in the state I call home.
I chose Baystate because I loved it from the first day of my rotation during 4th year. I had that ‘gut feeling’ that this was a place where I could learn, grow, and become the best pediatrician I can be. I loved how Baystate organized their curriculum, had the resident boot camp, and their investment in the community, but most of all I loved the people!! Everyone I met was so happy and welcoming. Knowing that I would be in a place where I would continuously learn in a supportive environment was very important to me. Residency is a difficult part of any doctor’s training and I’m thrilled to be doing my pediatric training at a place where, even on the toughest day, I would be surrounded by people who care for me while I continue to care for others.
Marina Girgis, MD
I am Canadian and grew up in Calgary, Alberta with two younger brothers. I flew across the Atlantic to pursue medical school at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Living in Dublin for the past six years has been an amazing experience learning about Irish culture and travelling all over Europe! I have been interested in pediatrics since I was young and this passion only grew throughout my time in medical school. Growing up so close to the Rocky Mountains, I love to ski and have been doing so since the age of five. I am looking forward to exploring new areas to ski during my time at Baystate. In my free time, I also enjoy playing basketball, skating, reading a good book, and baking delicious treats.
Between receiving a personalized interview invitation and witnessing the interactions between the residents and the attending’s on my interview day, it was clear to me that the staff at Baystate takes an interest in each resident. The residents seemed very happy and spoke very highly about the program and the support that they receive. This program felt like a family and is exactly what I am looking for in a residency.
Kelly Hess, DO
I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, also known as “the City of Good Neighbors!” Following in the footsteps of my two sisters, I decided to continue the battle against lake effect snow, and completed my undergrad at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA. I studied biology for 3 years and then began medical school down the street at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.
After growing up as the neighborhood babysitter and working at a daycare during college, it has been a lifelong dream to work with children. While on rotations, my interest in pediatrics and helping better the lives of little ones was confirmed! Outside of medicine, I love baking (there is nothing like a batch of warm brownies) and binge watching Netflix comedy series!
As a Buffalo Bills fan at heart, although a move to Patriots territory seemed daunting, I fell in love with Baystate for many reasons! I was initially impressed by the personalized interview invitation I received from the program director, Dr. Koenigs. With high expectations for interview day I was not disappointed! Everyone I met was so kind and the faculty seemed to be invested in the residents’ personal and professional lives. The dedication Baystate has to the Springfield community is admirable. On interview day it was requested that if applicants had any extra toiletries that they be brought in so they could be donated to a local shelter. This act only further exemplifies the community atmosphere of Baystate that I am excited to be a part of.
Filza Kaukab, DO
I grew up on a mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee where I hiked, biked, ran, and explored the great southern outdoors. My parents are both pediatricians from Pakistan who inspired my passion for working with kids and families. I went to undergrad at Emory University where I majored in Biology, met my best friends, worked as an EMT, and participated in research on vaccine development. My interest in vaccines drove me to get my master’s in Microbiology and Immunology at Tulane University, after which I had the exciting opportunity to continue to work in vaccine research at the CDC. During medical school at the Georgia campus of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, I got to meet and work with incredible classmates, medical professionals, and patients throughout my rotations and solidified my passion for medicine. On my off days, I can be found reading, running, listening to NPR podcasts, and practicing yoga.
The welcoming and warm residents and faculty that I met on my interview day left a lasting impression. I loved that Baystate is the main provider for Western Massachusetts and offers a variety of opportunities in both local community and global health. I’m also excited about the unique New England outdoor activities ranging from hiking to skiing and snowboarding.
Chad Surber, MD
I was born and raised in sunny southern California (specifically in the area affectionately known as the O.C. thanks to television) as a middle child between two sisters, which probably explains my mellow demeanor. Eventually I decided I was ready to experience some actual weather and seasons, so I uprooted myself and moved to rainy Dublin, Ireland for medical school. My pediatric rotations reaffirmed the love for working with children that I discovered during Boy Scouts, so I knew that upon returning to the States I wanted to become a pediatrician. While in Ireland I developed a number of new passions, including traveling, cooking, cycling, and listening to as much new music as
I like to make most personal decisions with a healthy dose of gut feeling, so after the interview day at Baystate I knew I would fit in very well because it simply felt right. It certainly did not hurt that Baystate is committed to contributing to the community, and has a deep respect for patients and employees as people. As interview season continued on, I kept using Baystate as the baseline of excellence to compare to other programs, so I feel very fortunate to join Baystate.
Jeffrey Walbridge, DO
I grew up in Acton MA, about 30 miles from Boston. After high school I headed north to The University of Vermont where I received my degree in medical laboratory sciences. For three years after graduation, I worked in a pathology lab as a blood bank technologist while completing my remaining prerequisites for medical school. Medical school took me quite far from home, as I am soon to be graduating from Rocky Vista University in Denver Colorado. Both Vermont and Colorado allowed me access to some of the great
As my first interview, I wasn’t sure what to expect but Baystate’s interview day was a difficult experience to top. During my multiple interactions with the residents, I was left with the impression that they were genuinely happy here. The faculty all seemed excited for the next class of interns and I had multiple stimulating conversations during my structured interviews that left me feeling as though I would be an integral member of the team. On a somewhat related note, I am very close to my brother and sister, who live in Providence and Boston respectively, so being close to them is an added bonus of practicing in Springfield.
Mary Zabinski, MD
I grew up in Latham, NY and completed my undergraduate studies in biology at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. After spending two years conducting immunology research at Boston University School of Medicine, I decided I wanted to focus on clinical medicine. I believe medicine is a calling and I strongly identify with the Ignatian tenant of cura personalis (“care of the whole person”), so I decided to receive my medical education within the Jesuit tradition. This led me to move to Omaha, NE to attend Creighton University School of Medicine. There my passion for pediatrics flourished, and as I went through my third year rotations I realized that pediatrics was the place for me! I have loved my time in the Midwest (and met my future husband there!), but I am so excited to be returning back to the northeast for residency! I have missed my family, the mountains, and the ocean, so I’m thrilled to be close to them all again. In my spare time I love to be outdoors, do anything active or involving the ocean, play board games, complete escape rooms, and capture the stillness of our spinning world through photography.
I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to complete a fourth year sub-internship at Baystate and I immediately felt at home. I enjoyed coming to the hospital each day to work alongside Baystate nurses, residents, attendings, and staff while we all strove to provide patients and their families with the most skillful and compassionate care possible during inpatient stays. The tangible commitment to service at Baystate is one that I share, and I consistently felt challenged, supported, and inspired during my time here. When my grandfather passed away on the second day of my rotation, everyone at Baystate was so sincerely concerned with my wellbeing – it allowed me to really experience what it means to be a member of the Baystate pediatrics family. I finished my month at Baystate eager to return! I am thrilled to be starting my pediatrics training at Baystate and am looking forward to three challenging, memorable, wonderful years!
Yifeng Zhang, DO
I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and grew up with my younger sister and older brother. Middle child alert! I went to the University of Arizona for undergraduate and majored in Molecular and Cellular Biology, but despite my science degree my favorite classes were the non-science classes I took like ballet or African dance! I didn’t move too far from home to attend medical school in California. During school, I was president of the pediatrics club where my board and I were heavily involved in the local community of children in need. It became important to me to focus on addressing children’s needs that aren’t just medical in nature. There are so many aspects of a child’s life that needs just as much focus! I’m excited to accomplish this and join the team of pediatricians at Baystate. Although I’m from the west coast my support system is now on the east coast. I’m looking forward to explore the outdoors of New England and experience real seasons, especially autumn.
While I was interviewing for residency I made it a priority to find a program that allowed their students to explore their interests in a supportive environment. From talking to the Baystate residents on my interview day I could immediately tell how proud they felt to work together for the benefit of the hospital and the surrounding community. They even addressed feeling supported in their mental and emotional health, which can be hard to find. I felt right at home.
Richard Zheng, DO
I was born in Manhattan, New York, but spent the majority of my life growing up in Chicopee, Massachusetts. I attended Chicopee Comprehensive High School where I found an interest in learning human anatomy and physiology in my senior year. I took this interest and started exploring a career in medicine by volunteering to shadow a pediatrician in the community as part of a program that was sponsored by Baystate Hospital. Then, I attended the University of Connecticut for undergraduate where I received a degree in Neurobiology, furthering my learning of neuroanatomy. I spent the summers in college volunteering at Baystate Hospital, learning from all of the wonderful staff on the Cardiac Failure Floor and continued shadowing pediatricians in the community. My interest in pediatrics has grown more and more throughout my medical school training and I am ecstatic to continue to learn and grow with my new family at Baystate Children’s Hospital.
I chose UMMS-Baystate because it has been the hospital that has fostered my interest in medicine and provided me opportunities from shadowing pediatricians in high school, volunteering in college, and performing research in radiology as well as clinical rotations in medical school. The physicians and staff at Baystate were all very kind, knowledgeable, and great teachers. It seemed only natural to continue my training at a place that has been helping me get this far in my medical journey.