Introducing the newest cohort of Kenan Rural Primary Care Scholars from the SOM Office of Rural Initiatives.
Reese Willingham grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina and calls Hendersonville her home. She attended UNC-Asheville for her undergraduate education because she couldn’t stand to leave the mountains. Reese has worked as a Habilitation Technician, providing one-on-one care to individuals with Intellectual / Developmental Disabilities, and she has seen first-hand how difficult it is to receive healthcare in Hendersonville, despite the ever-bustling Asheville being right next door. Reese is passionate about primary care and serving as many people as possible. During her free time, she likes to play video games, hike, and hang out with her dog.
Uty Utin was raised in Durham, NC. His passion for medicine was cultivated by the diverse populations of people he came across during his time both as a student and teacher within the Durham Public Schools system. As well as his time working as an emergency medicine scribe in Chatham, NC. There he noticed that although rural, there were many patients from diverse backgrounds. Most of these more diverse patients, however, were treated mostly by doctors who did not look like them. He later came to the realization that most of NC is rural with diverse populations of people living in it. This encouraged Uty to seek out opportunities, through the Kenan Rural Scholars program, to attend to the medical needs of all patients represented in rural NC. His goal is to help in whatever capacity to improve representation of diverse doctors within these rural spaces. His diverse upbringing instilled in him the desire to help others regardless of race, culture, or ethnicity. Uty currently resides in Durham with his spouse, and their two-year-old son. He enjoys spending any available time with his family.
Natalie Browne grew up in a small town in Halifax County, North Carolina. As an undergraduate at Western Carolina University, she majored in History and minored in Music and Chemistry. Natalie’s passion for serving rural, medically underserved communities was fostered while volunteering at a free, charitable clinic in Sylva, North Carolina. After graduating from Western Carolina University, Natalie worked for a Federally Qualified Health Center in western North Carolina and went on to obtain her Master of Public Health at the UNC Gilling’s School of Global Public Health. Both her clinical and academic experiences have introduced Natalie to the unique challenges rural communities face in accessing community resources, finding basic medical care, and bettering their overall health.
Keny Murillo Brizuela was born in Honduras but has lived in the Triangle area for most of his life. Even though Durham is now home, Keny attended high school in a tiny town called Stem, North Carolina. Keny attended Wake and Durham Technical Community Colleges before transferring to Furman University in Greenville, S.C., where he studied biology. During his gap years before med school, Keny worked as a Spanish medical interpreter at Duke University Hospital, and most recently, he was a research associate at the Center for Women’s Health Technologies, a Duke University biomedical engineering research lab that innovates technologies for cervical and breast cancer prevention and treatment. Keny is passionate about women’s health and increasing healthcare access to underserved communities. He is a Triage Coordinator at the Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC), a clinic in Carrboro, N.C. that provides free health care and services to those in the community, and he is also part of CAMPOS, an enrichment program that hopes to graduate more students who can independently care for Latinx populations. Keny is interested in an OBGYN specialty and hopes to learn how to better serve rural communities through the Kenan Program. When not studying, Keny is on a long run, hiking, spending time with his family and eating. Keny is a big foodie!
Josh Tanner was raised in a small town called Murphy, NC in the Appalachian Mountains. He received his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from NC State University. Experiencing socioeconomic barriers firsthand in his rural hometown provided him with insight of the daily obstacles low-income and underserved populations face. Before entering medical school, he focused on continuity of care for underserved populations as a care coordinator at the UNC Internal Medicine Clinic. During this time, he also coordinated a research project that focused on the integration of telemedicine-based diabetic retinopathy screening in the primary care setting. As a Kenan Scholar, he hopes to further his understanding of treating rural and underserved populations and is interested in incorporating innovative approaches to address health disparities. Outside of medicine, he enjoys brewing coffee, trying new foods, and bird watching.
Adele Bernard is from Montreal, Canada and Asheville, North Carolina (NC). After completing her Bachelor’s in Public Health at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, she worked in healthcare consulting before pivoting toward a career in medicine. Her experiences volunteering to meet the holistic needs of NC patients as a lay cancer patient navigator, healthcare marketplace application counselor, and birth doula affirmed her desire to work as a primary care physician. She’s especially interested in learning more about integrative medicine and how it can bolster disease prevention efforts in a primary care setting. She’s excited to be back in Western North Carolina where you’ll find her eating tacos, running, or losing on the pickleball court.
Cy Fogleman was born and raised in Winston-Salem, NC where he developed a passion for serving others in need as young boy. At age 12 he started a nonprofit project at Forsyth Hospital’s NICU, Project Brotherly Love, that continues to deliver care packages to this day. This experience ignited a desire to dedicate his life to serving others as a physician. Cy attended Wake Forest University where he studied Philosophy and Chemistry and also served on the campus EMS team for three years. Upon graduation, he served with Forsyth County EMS in his hometown for one year. Cy’s personal mission is to provide excellent personalized healthcare while also serving the needs of his community. He has learned that to effectively serve, one must listen to those in need and then work tirelessly to accomplish the goal no matter the personal sacrifice. For Cy, serving his community through medicine and community service is not just a catchy mission statement, it is a lifestyle that he has demonstrated up to this point and will continue to demonstrate for the rest of his life. Cy and his wife plan to dedicate their entire life to serving a rural community of NC as Family Medicine doctors and will work tirelessly to bring happiness and health to this community. In his free time, Cy loves spending time with family and landscaping.
Bryan Obika was born in Charlotte, NC, and raised in Waxhaw, NC. He attended UNC Chapel Hill for his undergraduate career, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Health – Nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. During his time as an undergraduate, Bryan volunteered at the UNC Children’s Hospital as a Surgery and Sedation Center liaison, and during his service he learned of how so many people from surrounding rural areas would drive over an hour just to see a doctor, highlighting the need for more access to hospitals in those areas. Bryan also shadowed at Cornerstone Medical, where he witnessed the importance of physicians in underserved areas as pillars of their community. His interests in medicine are General Surgery and Internal Medicine. When Bryan isn’t studying, he likes to read, work out, watch horror movies, and hang out with friends. He is incredibly excited to be a part of a program that will better prepare him to serve the place that he calls home: North Carolina!
Hannah Hulshult was born and raised in Elizabethton, a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of Northeast Tennessee. She attended Wake Forest University for her undergraduate degree and knew that she wanted to come back to NC for medical school. At Wake Forest, she majored in Sociology with a concentration in Health and Well-being. After graduation, Hannah was awarded a Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholarship to complete a public health research project at St. John’s Medical College in India. She then worked as a medical scribe back in TN while applying to medical school. Her passion for rural medicine stems from her upbringing, and as she learned more about the social determinants of health through her studies and research, she developed a strong interest in primary care. Hannah is committed to serving individuals in rural and underserved areas and helping to address the social factors that affect community health. She is excited to spend part of her medical school experience in Asheville and Western NC, as she will be close to home and serving a community similar to that in which she grew up. In her free time, she enjoys singing, reading, and spending time with friends and family.
Anna Jacks was raised in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Connelly Springs, North Carolina. She attended UNC-Chapel Hill for her undergraduate education where she majored in Biology. After graduating, she took an intermittent break from Chapel Hill to NC State where she completed a physiology program but is happy to be back as a Tarheel. Anna’s interest in rural medicine evolved from the close-knit community of her small town and as a volunteer at her local free health clinic. In addition, she has a strong interest in global rural medicine, as she saw a severe health care need in Haiti, serving with a medical mission team. From these experiences, Anna is committed to helping underserved populations like these and particularly wants to emphasize greater health care education in her practice. She is undecided about a particular specialty at the moment but is interested in primary care, OB/GYN, and general surgery. In her time off, Anna enjoys kayaking, hosting movie nights, and spending time with her pet rabbit, Luna.