Our Gap Year Program is for individuals who have graduated from a four-year university and are interested in continuing their education in a health professions school. This full-time position is perfect for individuals taking time off between college and their next stage of education. Meet our current students.

Abha Athawale

Abha graduated Magna cum Laude from Wake Forest University where she received a BS in Health and Exercise Science. During her time at Wake Forest University, Abha worked at the Behavioral Medicine Lab where she served as a behavioral coach and research assistant for a study focused on decreasing chronic pain in older adults by means of physical activity. Abha also volunteered at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital as a cancer strategist, acting as a liaison between patient and provider.  Invested in children’s health, Abha hopes to be a pediatrician one day.

During her gap year at Gastro Health, Abha is excited to interact with patients, learn new skills, and be mentored by the Gastro Health physicians. In her free time Abha enjoys music, traveling, good food, gardening, and spending time with friends and family.

Leyla Ewald

Leyla graduated from Harvard University in Spring 2023. At Harvard, she studied Biology with a secondary concentration in Global Health and Health Policy. Throughout her four undergraduate years, she conducted research in the Giribet Lab, focusing on population genomics in coral reefs. She also continued research in genetics at the Mount Sinai Precision Immunology Institute. Additionally, Leyla worked as a teaching assistant in Introductory Life Sciences, volunteered in a food lab, led group fitness classes, and was a backpacking leader of the First-Year Outdoor Program.

During her time at Gastro Health, Leyla is especially looking forward to gaining patient-centered experience and learning more about the gut-mind connection. She plans to apply to medical school next year. In her free time, Leyla particularly enjoys baking, running, and hiking with her dog, Toby.

Anna Heintz

Anna graduated from Wellesley College with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry with honors. During her time at Wellesley, she conducted research on proteins that have implications in medical drug delivery and disease treatment. Anna also served as a research assistant at the VA Jamaica Plain, where she contributed to efforts aimed at enhancing the quality of life for veterans living with Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, she worked at the Perelman School of Medicine, focusing on patients grappling with opioid overdose.

During her gap year, Anna is excited to work with patients. In her free time, she enjoys teaching spin classes, traveling, and reading.

Emely Loscalzo

Emely graduated from Johns Hopkins University with multiple academic honors. She majored in Behavioral Biology and the History of Science and Technology. Throughout her undergraduate career, Emely engaged in two distinct research projects. One project focused on signal processing in the basic sciences, while the other examined the complications associated with corticosteroid use in patients with muscular dystrophy.  Her work on corticosteroid use was presented at multiple national and international conferences. 

Emely's fascination with nutrition and the gut microbiome led her to Gastro Health, where she intends to spend two years shadowing doctors, interacting with patients, and deepening her understanding of GI health, nutrition, and the microbiome. Fluent in Spanish, she also aims to enhance her medical Spanish skills during her time at the practice. Consistent with her Argentine roots, Emely enjoys watching soccer games supporting her favorite teams: the Argentina National team and Boca Juniors. She also enjoys working out and exploring the city.

Samantha Neuman

Samantha Neuman graduated with honors from Lehigh University with a bachelor’s in Biological Sciences and a minor in Health, Medicine, and Society.  While at Lehigh University, Samantha was a patient care partner at Lehigh Valley Health Network and was involved in research on traumatic brain injury biomarkers and treatments. During her undergraduate career, Samantha had an internship at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where she managed programs in support of research. 

During her gap year at Gastro Health, Samantha is eager to acquire more patient care experience as she prepares to apply to physician assistant school. During her free time, Samantha enjoys cooking, exercising, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

Jay Patel

Jay Patel graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Biological Sciences and Political Science. At graduation, he was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society, received Magna Cum Laude distinction, and was chosen as the student marshal on behalf of the biological sciences department. During his time at Northwestern, Jay conducted research at the Feinberg School of Medicine Infectious Disease Department where he studied a toxin made by the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus. He also worked with the Arizona Burn Center to help improve care and prevent readmissions. 

At Gastro Health, Jay will serve as our clinical research coordinator while also honing his patient care skills in preparation for medical school. In the future, he hopes to continue his journey in academic medicine and ultimately become a surgeon specializing in burn care. Outside of work, Jay enjoys playing soccer, running, or watching sports.

Gabriella Puchall

Gabriella graduated with highest honors from Lehigh University with a B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience and was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. At Lehigh University, she researched psychology and organometallic chemistry. Her psychology work explored sources of healthcare information and their impact on disease perception. In chemistry, she received the 2022 Undergraduate Research Award from the American Chemical Society. Additionally, Gabriella served as an emergency medical technician for Lehigh University Emergency Medical Services and volunteered at the Miller-Keystone Blood Donation Center.

While at Gastro Health, Gabriella looks forward to gaining clinical experience working with patients as she prepares to apply to medical school. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, skiing, playing piano, and spending time with family and friends.

Eliza Valente

Eliza graduated from UMass Amherst Commonwealth Honors College with a B.S in Disease Prevention. During her undergraduate career, she conducted research and completed a thesis studying health disparities in chronic disease care. Additionally, Eliza worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant in a Dementia Care Center. 

During her gap year, Eliza is excited to learn from the providers and staff at Gastro Health and to gain clinical experience in gastroenterology. Eliza plans to pursue a career as a Physician Assistant, concentrating on public health and working to provide equitable healthcare for all.  In her free time, she likes to read, exercise, cook, and spend time with family and friends.