Empathy, creativity, and critical thinking are the indelible roots of early leadership which must be nurtured. For the inaugural members of HEALTH-RCMI Student Cadre [PI, Dr. Ezemenari M. Obasi], the Fall 2022-Spring 2023 school year has been a pivotal year of leadership opportunities, community health highlights and personal growth.

In collaboration with the Community Engagement Core {Director, Dr. LeChauncy Woodard], young, visionary leaders have participated in community-engaged outreach and research initiatives that have shed light on health disparities. Student Cadre inaugural members include Taylor Jones, Kim Nguyen, Carissa Timpf, and Hsiang Chi Lin.



Bringing a sense of purpose and passion to her work in the Student Cadre, Taylor Jones is UH senior, pursuing a B.S. in Biochemistry and a minor in Spanish. Jones is a pre-med student whose drive to become an oncologist derives from helping others fight cancer. It was an early battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that inspired Jones.


“To become a doctor is really challenging, but you must have a passion and something that fuels and drives you,” Jones said.


For Jones, one of the most exciting research endeavors while serving on the Student Cadre was her internship with the BREATHE project through M.D. Anderson. Through the Student Cadre, Jones has been actively involved in community outreach opportunities in Houston.


“We were helping people in the Third Ward, and that was really eye-opening,” Jones said. “I was handing out food through a food pantry project. We got a tour of the Third Ward, and we were able to hear from Pastor Davis about the resources in the neighborhood.”



For UH junior, Kim Nguyen, applying research to create meaningful solutions is part of what drives her.


“I love the solutions end of research,” Nguyen said. “That’s what I’m most passionate about--where you can take everything you learn and synthesize it into a solution.”


Nguyen is a pre-med student who is currently pursuing a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Psychology. In addition to her work with the HEALTH-RCMI Student Cadre, she currently serves as a research assistant in the UH Cognitive Development Lab. Her research team works with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and bilingual children to understand early learning mechanisms.


“After graduating, I hope to attend medical school and become a physician,” Nguyen said. “I know that being a part of the Student Cadre has helped me learn how I can provide better care for the populations that I will serve.”



Inspired by the Honors College Public Health Research class, Carissa Timpf hopes to apply her passion to help people achieve a better quality of life. Timpf is a UH senior who is pursuing a B.S. in Biology and minoring in medicine and society. Following her graduation, Timpf plans to apply to medical school.


Uniting her interests, Timpf applies her passion to address health inequities within the HEALTH-RCMI Student Cadre. When elaborating on a recent H-Town CHAT volunteer opportunity, Timpf underscored the importance of community engagement.


“HEALTH-RCMI projects allow us as Student Cadre volunteers to engage with the community directly, listen, and learn more about their experiences on medicine,” Timpf explained. “I feel very connected to their [Third Ward community residents’] stories and I am able to identify the needs within the community.”



Originally, Hsiang Chi Lin, earned a B.S. in Psychology and planned to become a therapist of counselor. Following her Army services, Lin developed an interest in assisting individuals and the community directly. Lin, now a UH senior, decided to return to school to earn a second B.S. in Biology and eventually apply for medical school.


“There is not another organization in UH that has a large network of opportunities,” Lin said. “Also, there is so much support from HEALTH-RCMI staff members, community education and outreach coordinator, Dr. Damien Kelly, and community health worker, Shalan Washington.”


Lin noted that her Student Cadre experience has helped her achieve her goals where she was able to collaborate and try something new outside of her comfort zone. She added this experience has definitely helped with professional development opportunities.


“There is not any other organization like HEALTH-RCMI Student Cadre that has a perfect combination of community involvement and being a part of a research project. Anyone interested should definitely apply to be a Student Cadre member.”


If you are interested in joining the Student Cadre for the 2023-2024 school year, applications are open beginning April 3, 2023. To submit your application to the Student Cadre, please apply here.



--Alison Medley

--Jayda Martinez, Contributor


If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Alison Medley at 713.320.0933 or email aemedle2@central.uh.edu

Faculty Member