Who We Are

Homeless HEAL is a UCSD student-run, non-profit organization that was established in 2016, has served 4 shelters, and has had over 50 members. We take great pride in the growth of our organization and the members who have brought us to where we are today.


Board of Advisors

Ramon A. Hernandez

Primary Board Advisor

Sadaf Chaudry

Co-Founder

Omar Sahial

Co-Founder

Lindsay Ward

Community Outreach Advisor

Christopher Larson

Curriculum Development Advisor

Erika Vargas

Program Supervisor at Oasis Clubhouse


Administrative and Non-Profit Board

Besma Chaudry

Executive Director & President

Besma is a senior General Biology major who was born and raised in San Diego, California. The experiences she has had through her extracurricular exploration drove her to join and play a pivotal role in Homeless HEAL in its early years. As an intern at the Palomar Health Pathmaker Internship, Besma is grateful to be a part of the compassionate care the patients she serves receive and to contribute to their healing. At the Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego, Besma empathized with the suffering family members experienced when their loved ones were hospitalized and found that small gestures of kindness truly made an impact in supporting those who are suffering.

Additionally, Besma enjoys studying the processes underlying chronic diseases through her research at the Stein Clinical Research Center at the UCSD School of Medicine. As a research assistant, Besma explores metabolic diseases and cancer through basic science and translational experiments. Seeing how prevalent diabetes and cancer are amongst homeless populations drove Besma towards her research interests. Her experiences have taught her that prevention is the best cure, especially for homeless and other disenfranchised populations who often lack the resources to treat their chronic diseases once they develop. Besma made prevention her mission as she dedicated herself to advancing Homeless HEAL and helping establish the organization as a sustainable initiative. As an Admin Member of Homeless HEAL, Besma serves as President and Interview and Orientation Director. In the past, she has also served as Lead Instructor for the Oral Hygiene and Physiological Effects of Addiction units. The interpersonal skills and biological, chemical, and physical understanding of life she gained through her extracurricular experiences has driven her to pursue a career in medicine as a primary care physician.

Cheyenne Mercer

Co-Chair, Community Advisor, & Founding Member

Cheyenne is a first generation college transfer student (San Diego Mesa College 16′ alumna) and participant in the 2015 UniversityLink Medical Science Program (ULMSP) at the University of California San Diego. She graduated from UCSD Revelle College with a BS degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and an MS Biology degree in 2020. She was a part of UCSD’s Division of Biological Sciences BS/MS Program from 2018-2020 working in the Dr. Stanley Lo Lab with a research focus on STEM transfer student science identity formation. During her time at UCSD, Cheyenne was named a 2017-2018 UCSD Town and Gown Scholar and was awarded the 2019-2020 UCSD BS/MS BrightSpinnaker Fellowship. 


Cheyenne is a founding member, 2017-2020 Executive Director, and serves as community advisor and co-chair on the board of directors for Homeless HEAL. In addition to her service within our organization, she was Associate Director of ULMSP 2020 and has mentored college transfer students as ULMSP Counselor in 2019 and 2020 as well as high school juniors in the Academy of Health and Medical Sciences at her alma mater, Clairemont High School. Her passion for helping those from marginalized backgrounds has inspired her to become a physician leader and educator equipped to serve underrepresented communities. Cheyenne has been accepted into UC San Diego School of Medicine’s 2020-2021 CAP Program and looks forward to her first year as a medical student after completing CAP in Fall 2021. 

Kevin Kahru

Co-Chair

Kevin originally entered UCSD as a History major because of his life-long passion for foreign cultures, diverse stories, and languages. However, after serving as a translator in various free-health clinics for several years, he was inspired by the physicians he worked with to pursue a career in medicine so that he could directly help care for the individuals and communities in greatest need. He graduated from UCSD Summa Cum Laude in 2019 with a dual major in both History (B.A) and Biochemistry (B.S).

He is currently a medical student (M.D candidate) at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Carol-Luanne Hafey

Interview and Orientation Co-Director

Carol Hafey was raised in San Diego and is a Senior at UC San Diego. She is studying Public Health pre-medical and will be graduating in 2022. She is working to go to medical school to become a physician. In addition to Homeless Heal, Carol also volunteers at the Veterans Association Hospital in La Jolla, volunteers for a non-profit prioritizing mother’s health, and works as a Standardized Patient at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. 

Selina Chang

Interview and Orientation Co-Director

Selina was raised in Saratoga, CA and received her Bachelors of Science in Physiology & Neuroscience from UC San Diego. As a previous teaching assistant, figure skating coach, and dance choreographer, Selina greatly enjoys teaching and believes that preventative education is an essential means of empowering communities to pursue healthier ways of life. She plans on attending medical school in 2022 and strives to become a primary care physician. Aside from Homeless HEAL, she is a medical assistant at a family medicine clinic and a Department Coordinator at Palomar Health’s Pathmaker Internship. In her free time, she loves hiking, dancing, and spending quality time with friends. 

Deepti Gunge

Education Director

Deepti Gunge is from Fremont, CA and is a UC San Diego graduate with a degree in Cognitive Science with a Specialization in Neuroscience. She greatly enjoys teaching, as well as talking to people of diverse backgrounds and obtaining new perspectives on life. In addition to being Education Director of Homeless HEAL, she is a Research Assistant at the LCA lab and will be working as a Medical Scribe once COVID-19 permits her to do so. Deepti is a former Pathmaker Intern at Palomar Medical Center as well as the former Philanthropy and Service Director of Kappa Alpha Theta, and has volunteered on international clinic trips with Global Medical Brigades and Healing Hearts Across Borders. Deepti plans on attending medical school and pursuing gynecology. In her free time, she enjoys going to the beach, kickboxing, and painting. 

Yosef Faiq

Outreach Director

Yosef was raised in San Diego and is currently a fourth year pre-medical student at UCSD obtaining his bachelor’s degree in physiology and neuroscience. During his earlier years at UCSD, he has devoted much time to shadowing various physicians, focusing his efforts primarily on internal medicine and emergency medicine, where he encountered countless members of the homeless community continuously seeking treatment. This experience revealed to him how the healthcare system is unable to properly address the homeless community’s conditions, addictions, and unhealthy habits. Realizing that action must be taken, he joined Homeless HEAL where he devotes his time to educating the homeless community on the dangers of unhealthy habits/addictions detrimental to one’s health while promoting prevention of certain illnesses and diseases, specifically tailored for the homeless community.

Raven Wilbur

Communication and Branding Director

Raven Wilbur is a UCSD graduate with a Bachelor of Science in General Biology and Bioethics minor. Having been with Homeless Heal since the Fall of 2018, she has been a student educator for several presentations as well as a Lead Instructor for the Women’s and Family Health Unit along with attending events in the community that support the homeless community. As an alum, she serves as the Communication and Branding Director for HHEAL. Outside of HHEAL, Raven was a 4 year member of UCSD’s Health and Medical Professions Preparation Program (HMP3), a member of UCSD’s Global Medical Training, a volunteer at Lightbridge Hospice Services, and a volunteer research assistant at the UCSD School of Medicine. In the first two years at UCSD, she was also President of the Women’s Rugby Club on campus. In the future, her goals are to attend medical school and eventually pursue a career as an OBGYN or pediatrician. 

Preethi Veeragandham

Treasurer

Preethi was born in Indiana and currently lives in Dublin, California. She is a fourth year Human Biology major and Health Care Social Issues and Theater minor. She plans to pursue a career in medicine after graduating and hopes to become a pediatric oncologist. Preethi currently works as a research assistant in the Saltiel Lab at UCSD School of Medicine, department of endocrinology. She enjoys being a part of Homeless HEAL due to how she gets to give back to the local San Diego community, while teaching subjects she is passionate about. In her free time, she likes to play tennis, hike, hang out with friends, and explore new places.  

Somia Sahial

Secretary

Somia is from San Diego, California. She is currently an undergrad at University of California, San Diego working on obtaining her bachelor’s of science in Global Health. She plans on continuing her education into the path of medicine and pursuing pediatrics. Her background consists of volunteering at the UCSD Student-Run Free Clinic, where she assisted patients with their healthcare application process, exploring and communicating with multiple pharmaceutical companies regarding free healthcare programs for patients who are uninsured. Throughout this experience, she grew an instant interest for finding healthcare solutions for people in the underserved communities. She believes that the start of growth, awareness and healthcare solutions is by informing people and what better way can that be done with the help of children. With that said, her career interest follows the path to pursue pediatrics, and further on giving aid to children under the program called Doctors without Borders in the near future. She believes, information is faster traveled by children, moreover creating a system where the uninformed becomes informed is very important to many, particularly the people in communities that are uninsured, underserved, and homeless. As of now, she is currently volunteering at the Homeless HEAL, educating patients and herself on multiple health-related topics with profound insight. She believes that awareness can only be sent out through educating one another on topics that many would think are not as important as it seems. There is a ton of information out in the world, furthermore it is significantly important to focus on how to capture that information and how it can help others who are uninformed and unaware. 


Lead Instructors and Student Educators

Max Rossip
Stephanie Osuocha
Danna Michelle Smith

Omar Shalakhti

Isu Pallek
Raven Montell

Peter Park


Past Members

Homeless HEAL is honored to have all members past and present involved in the growth of the organization. The organization has had over 50 Student Educators and Lead Instructors that have expanded the organization to where it is today. We humbly appreciate all that our members have contributed to the greater San Diego community and are certain that they will continue to strive for greatness.

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