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


Omar Sahial


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.

Mei Lao

Operating and Strategic Director, Secretary

Mei is a senior Human Biology major and double minor in Education Studies and Chinese Studies at UC San Diego. Following her passion in education from being a 4th-grade teacher’s assistant, mentoring a minority student with a learning disability from an underserved part of San Diego, to facilitating workshops for low-income minority students at UCSD’s Preuss High school, Mei became immensely interested in the socio-economic disparities that exist throughout the San Diego community. 

Upon joining Homeless HEAL, she became more and more interested in health, the homeless, and poverty while being a student educator and participating in countless community service projects such as designing a Covid vaccine informatory poster. Paired with exploring health topics as UCSD’s Student Health Advocates (SHA) Lead Liaison and as Health and Medical Professions Preparation Program (HMP3)’s Vice President, Mei has developed a deep interest in how various health conditions and clinical history can affect the type of patient care we can provide and hopes to fulfill her personal endeavors of understanding the intersection of poverty and health, uniquely within San Diego. 

Kevin Kahru


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.

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. 

Carol-Luanne Hafey

Interview and Orientation Co-Director, Projects Initiative Coordinator

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. 

Preethi Veeragandham

Interview and Orientation Co-Director

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.  

Selina Chang

Education 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. 

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.

Monisha Saxena

Volunteer Director

Monisha was raised in Fremont, CA, and is currently a sophomore at UCSD majoring in Human Biology. She has a passion for teaching stemming from her experience as a peer tutor and enjoys giving back to the San Diego community through Homeless HEAL. Monisha is planning to attend medical school to eventually practice as a psychiatrist or dermatologist. In her free time, she enjoys reading, playing board games, and cooking.

Lead Instructors and Student Educators

Alina Trong Allison Williams AnnaClaire Rogness Antonia Sapon-Sache Chloe Le Daniela Osoweicki Danna Smith Donna Pham Harris Saddiqi Isuri Pallek Janneca Ames Joseph Siprut Keila Perez Lauren Amaya Madison Park Mie Pretlow Nabeala Salem Noamon Sahial Norma Gutierrez Phoebe Wang Raven Montallana Stephanie Nguyen Subber Kaur Dhillon Tiffany Nguyen

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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