Requesting an HPAO Mentor

Students who have attended an HPAO information session may request an HPAO mentor. HPAO mentors are a group of dedicated, experienced, and trained students planning a career in the health professions who volunteer their time to assist other SDSU pre-health students. You will be matched with a HPAO mentor based on the information you provide and your health profession interest. 

To request a Peer Mentor, please complete the following Google Form.

Peer Mentor Request Google Form:

*note: not all students can be matched due to limited staffing and matches will be made on a first-come first-serve basis 🙂

2021-2022 HPAO Mentors


Devika Gaikwad

4th Year, Biology

Hi! My name is Devika and I’m a fourth-year pre-dental student majoring in general Biology. As someone always interested in healthcare and skilled in manual dexterity, dentistry allows me to follow not only my passion for science but also my desire to bring awareness to limited access to healthcare and working with disadvantaged groups. I currently work at an Endodontic office, volunteer at an Orthodontic office, and actively participate with the UCSD Pre-Dental Society and Student-Run Clinics. I recently joined the Flying Samaritans Executive board and am eager to guide and provide resources to other pre-health students. Outside of school, I enjoy watching mystery movies, spending time with my dog, riding motorcycles, and doing jigsaw puzzles.

Chloe Fairman

4th Year, Biology
Hello! My name is Chloe and I am a 4th-year biology student and I am on a pre-dental track. My involvement in undergrad includes joining the Women in Science Society, becoming apart of the Pre-Dental Club, and I became a member of the sorority, Delta Gamma. I have also held a position on the board of Camp Kesem at San Diego State for two consecutive years. Outside of SDSU, I have become involved with the student-run clinics at UC San Diego with their Pre-Dental Society. During my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my friends and finding new places to eat on Yelp. I am looking forward to meeting all of the Pre-Health students at SDSU!

Jahzel Montalla

5th Year, Foods and Nutrition

Hi everyone! My name is Jahzel Montalla and I am a fifth year majoring in Foods and Nutrition. I have been on the Pre-Dental track since 2018, and my aspiration to become a dentist continues to grow! I am currently the President for SDSU’s Pre-Dental Organization, the Dental Patient Coordinator for Flying Samaritans, and an HPAO Peer Mentor for a second year. Aside from school, I spend my time working as a dental assistant with a very compassionate dentist. I have learned so much about dentistry from work or from volunteering at UCSD’s Student-Run Free Dental Clinics. I chose dentistry because I get excited witnessing and being a part of the transformative changes that occur within a dental treatment. In addition, I genuinely enjoy networking with other individuals, and I believe the patient interaction from a dental office fulfills that for me. On my free time, I am either lifting weights at the gym, hanging out with friends and family, or spending quality time with my dog. I hope to see you soon! 😀


Alexa Fernandez

3rd year, Biology

Hello! My name is Alexa Joy Fernandez and I am a third year Biology major with minors in Interdisciplinary Studies and Public Health and I am on a pre-medical track. I am a born and raised San Diegan, so I am right at home here on campus! On campus, I am involved with AB Samahan and I am the Public Relations chair for Public Health Initiative, a student org dedicated to connecting students to research and promoting well-being. I am a Nationally Registered EMT and I love to volunteer whenever I can! Outside of school and work, I love to craft, read, dance, and bake!

Helen Nguyen

4th Year, Public Health
Hi! I am a fourth-year Public Health major (pre-med track) with a minor in Honors Interdisciplinary Studies. When it comes to extracurriculars, I am a volunteer at Sharp Memorial Hospital, the President for Medlife, Co-Vice President for Doctors Without Borders, Public Health Chair for Flying Samaritans, and Chair for Students Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). I’ve also  participated in research with Dr. Sussman’s and Dr. Thompson’s lab. One of my biggest passions is providing service for those in low-income communities, as I am extremely eager to help those who are facing health disparities. Other than that, I enjoy cake decorating, being a boba connoisseur, and trying different food places! I know pre-health can be intimidating but I am here to support you and answer any questions you may have.

Jennifer Schenkendfelder

4th year, Cellular and Molecular Biology
Hello, my name is Jennifer Schenkenfelder and I am a 4th year Cellular and Molecular Biology major with two minors; one in Chemistry and one in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. Within our SDSU community, I am a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Aztec Professional Pre-health organization, Rho Lambda and Order of Omega honor societies, and I also currently serve as the Executive Vice President of University Affairs for Associated Students. Outside of SDSU I am a frequent volunteer of the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the San Diego Miracle League Network.

Abby Simpson

4th year, Biology

Hello! My name is Abby and I am one of the Pre-Med HPAO peer mentors! I am a fourth year biology major with a minor in interdisciplinary studies. I am part of the Supplemental Instruction (SI) program as a mentor for CHEM 232. I am also involved in Beta Psi Omega, Miracles for Kids, and Women in Sciences society. Off campus I do research in a spatiotemporal brain imaging lab and am a Pathmaker intern at Palomar health hospital. I am so excited to be a peer mentor this year and hope to see you in the HPAO office! 🙂

Samah Olomi
4th year, Psychology
Hey! My name is Samah Olomi and I’m in my last semester as a Psychology major following the pre-med route. I’ve gotten involved in a lot of different activities during my time here so far, and currently am studying to take my MCAT this year! Some of my on-campus involvement the past few years included being the president of the Council of Pre-Health Organizations, volunteering with the Pathmaker Internship, and participating in research about the health effects of alcohol consumption under Dr. Brasser. I also previously served as the President of AMSA where I am now a member, and continue to have membership in the Women in Science Society. Outside of school, I love to dance, go shopping, workout, and travel (and hope to go to Europe when I graduate)!

Mariana Padilla

4th Year, Biology

Hi, my name is Mariana Padilla and I am a fourth year majoring in biology on the pre-medicine track. I recently got EMT certified so my goals for this semester are to start working very soon and get more involved within the community. I am also secretary of a club called Gates to Success, which targets first generation students like myself, and VP of programming for the Undeclared College Council. Outside of studying, I spend the majority of my time with my family and friends but I love to stay busy! My motivation comes from my passion to want to help those in need and to be a role model for my family now and in the future.

Geronimo Salcedo
4th year, Biology

Hello! My name is Geronimo Salcedo and I’m a fourth year biology major pursuing a career in allopathic medicine. I currently live in San Diego but I am originally from Murrieta, CA. On campus, I am an active member of Phi Gamma Delta and the historian of Beta Psi Omega. Outside of campus, I am a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and a medical scribe in the emergency department. In my free time, I enjoy watching and playing football, working out, and reading.

Parmida Saadipour

5th Year, Kinesiology

Hi! I am a pre-medical, fifth year Kinesiology major. One of the first extracurriculars that I participated in was the COPE Health scholars program. This is where I was first exposed to both the administrative and clinical sides of health care. Most recently, I began working in a Mental Health Clinic where I was given the positions of a Medical Assistant and Social Media Director. Outside of school, I love to spend time with friends and discover San Diego. Please feel free and come to the office to speak with me. I look forward to meeting you all!

Joel Kopcow

4th year, Kinesiology

Hi everyone! My name is Joel Kopcow and I’m a 4th year kinesiology major on the pre-med track. Throughout college I’ve been involved in a community service club called MedLife, completed a stem cell research internship at Scripps Health, and have recently become involved in hospice care and the Palomar Health Pathmaker Internship. I’m originally from Colorado and enjoy being outdoors or playing sports in my free time. I look forward to sharing my experiences and helping other students achieve their goals!

Olivia Hansen


Hi! My name is Olivia and I am a third-year Kinesiology major pursuing the pre-medical path. I love being involved on campus and am currently serving on the leadership teams for SDSU Ambassadors and Dance Marathon. In addition to volunteering in HPAO as a peer mentor, I am also in the Pathmaker Internship and participate in physical education research in Dr. Kahan’s Lab. In my free time, I like to spend time with my friends and family, go to the beach, and try every brunch spot in San Diego! Please feel free to stop by and chat with me in the office! I look forward to meeting you all 🙂

Brittni Abasta

4th year, Kinesiology

Hello! My name is Brittni Abasta and I am a 4th-year Kinesiology student on a pre-med track. I currently volunteer at UCSD Hospital and have been actively involved in my church since I was a young girl. I am also a volunteer at my daughters elementary school as well as a PTA mom! Outside of school, I spend majority of my time with my husband, four year old daughter and our sweet puppy! In my little moments of peace I do enjoy teaching myself a new song on the piano or reading a book!

Physician Assistant

My Hoang

4th year, Interdisciplinary Studies: Biology, Psychology, and Public Health.

Hi! I’m My I’m a Pre-Physician Assistant mentor and I am in my last semester. I study Interdisciplinary Studies (Biology, Public Health, Psychology). I am also a Sophomore Mentor and Student Leader, involved in Women in Science Society and PASA. I like playing music (I just got an electric guitar!), photography, painting, animals, going to farmer’s markets and working on my crystal jewelry business (Bleaching Vintage). After I graduate, I plan on volunteering abroad to different countries to rescue animals and teach English. 

Chloe Horan
3rd year, Cell and Molecular Biology

Hi there!! My name is Chloe Horan and I am a third-year Cell and Molecular Biology major pursuing a pre-PA path.  Aside from HPAO, I am involved in a couple of other organizations on campus including Women in Science Society (WSS), Pre-Physicians Assistant Student Association (PASA), as well as serving on the executive board for my sorority, Pi Beta Phi.  Aside from school activities, I really enjoy going for walks in Pacific Beach, trying new restaurants, and going to the farmers’ market in Ocean Beach! I chose the PA route because I love the more personable patient interaction as well as having the option to move around in specialties throughout my career.  I am extremely excited for this year and cannot wait to serve the wonderful HPAO community.

Leahikailimailani Fautua

4th Year, Kinesiology Pre-PT major

Hi! My name is Leahi and I am a 4th year Kinesiology Pre-PT major on a Pre-PA track. I am a member of the Pre-Physician Assistant Student Association (PASA) and Women in Science Society (WSS). I also have experience working at a physical therapy clinic as a Physical Therapy Aide. I love to go to the beach, surf, dance, travel, listen to music, try new food places, and hang out with my friends and family. I was once a mentee who was unsure of what career to pursue in healthcare and constantly had many questions. I am happy to be a mentor now and be able to help students who feel the same way I felt before. I look forward to meeting with you all!

Nikki Phan

4th year, Interdisciplinary Studies: Biology, Public Health, Psychology

Hi, my name is Nikki Phan!! I am a fourth-year Interdisciplinary Studies major with the three departments Biology, Public Health, and Psychology. My last three years has consisted of volunteering at multiple hospitals and doing extensive research in order to learn more about the careers within the healthcare field. These experiences led me to my passion for health promotion and the role of a Physician Assistant. In the future, I strive to serve and advocate for underserved communities. Alongside being a pre-PA peer mentor, I am also a Pathmaker intern, Sharp volunteer, Public Relations Chair for Students 4 Public Health, and Peer Health Educator. Academic related things aside, some of my current hobbies consist of binge watching series, cooking/baking, and editing!

Veterinary Medicine

Michelle Ward
5th year, Classics Major: Emphasis in Classical Humanities

Hello! My name is Michelle Ward and I’m the Pre-Veterinary HPAO Mentor. I am a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Classics with Humanities Emphasis and have a minor with the Weber Honors College. Besides being an HPAO Mentor, I am also the Treasurer of the Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (PVMA). Outside of school I work part-time at the Animal & Bird Hospital of Del Mar and volunteer with the exotic animal sanctuary Lions, Tigers, and Bears. I have had experience shadowing the vets at Lions, Tigers, and Bears; as well as with a local veterinarian at the Eastlake Veterinary Clinic one summer and an Avian/ Exotics veterinarian. I have experience as the class coordinator for the Topics in Veterinary Medicine course. In my free time I usually am hanging out with my girlfriend in a Barnes N Noble, or reading/writing/drawing with my dog in my lap, or playing video games.

Kayla Pham

3rd year, Biology

Hi everyone! My name is Kayla Pham. I am a third year Biology with an emphasis in Zoology major and I am on a pre-vet track. I am currently working as a veterinary technician at the Animal Dermatology Clinic. I am also the Vice President and Scholarship Chair of Alpha Phi Gamma. I have previously worked at Mission Valley Pet Clinic as a kennel technician, volunteered at Helen Woodward Animal Center since high school with both their Foster’s Department as well as their Medical Team, and I worked in the first year residence halls at SDSU as an Academic Mentor. I like to spend my time reading and going to the beach to chill as well as volunteering with animals.

Fiorella Dongo

4th Year, Biology

Hi, my name is Fiorella Dongo. I am a fourth-year biology major with an emphasis in Zoology. I am currently a part of the PVMA club at SDSU and am working at Mission Gorge Animal Hospital in route to gain clinical experience in the veterinary field. I also volunteer independently with local non-profit organizations such as Frosted Faces, Feral Cat Coalition, and the Rescue House. In my free time I tend to binge Netflix and love to spend my time with my fur babies.