Mentorship, Entrepreneurship, and Diversity in Healthcare

Francesca Raoelison

2017 Undergraduate Transfer Scholar, Brown University

Francesca Raoelison, the founder and Executive Director of Omena, is a 2017 Undergraduate Transfer Scholar currently located in Providence, Rhode Island. Francesca, who is from Madagascar, founded the nonprofit Omena with the mission of promoting social and emotional learning to break the cycle of emotional abuse. What started as a viral video by Francesca explaining emotional abuse to her peers transformed into an international non-profit focused on prevention training, building communities of practice, and creating social emotional learning curriculums.

Throughout her entrepreneurship journey, Francesca sought out support and mentorship from other women in the field, which helped her gain confidence in her own leadership skills. One of her mentors was instrumental in helping Francesca recognize the strengths she held. “I could relate to her, she was a woman, she led an international NGO. That in itself and knowing that it’s possible gave me more confidence in my skills,” Francesca said.

According to Francesca, this movement around social and emotional learning is about the collective experience, and growing together as a society. “I’m just here to accompany and provide some of the resources that I’ve learned. At the end of the day, this is for something way bigger than ourselves.”

To learn more about Omena, click here.

Dr. Fasika Woreta

2002 Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Fasika Woreta, an ophthalmologist, also serves as the residency director of ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins University. She and her identical twin sister, Dr. Tinsay Woreta, were in the Foundation’s first ever cohort of Cooke Scholars in 2002.

The Woretas immigrated to the United States when the twins were one year old. Fasika’s grandmother suffers from glaucoma, and she was struck by the lack of access to basic surgeries in her birth country of Ethiopia, where the standard of care is much lower. This fueled her passion for ophthalmology and global health. At Hopkins, through her work on the medical school’s selections committee, she also supports efforts to increase diversity among medical students, which is proven to make a difference in the quality of care patients receive.

“Improving the workforce diversity is an important part of reducing health disparities,” Fasika said. “We know that patients, in terms of concordance with language, race, ethnicity, and even gender – there’s differences in the way we care for patients.”

You can read more about Dr. Fasika Woreta here.

Dr. Tinsay Woreta

2002 Graduate Scholar, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Tinsay Woreta is a gastroenterologist and hepatologist. She is also the fellowship director of those specialties at Hopkins, as well as the transplant and hepatology director. She has a passion for public health and disease prevention, which led her to specialize in gastrointestinal (GI) medicine. Many common GI conditions, like fatty liver disease and liver cancer, have a lot of preventative opportunity through educational programs and screenings, among others.

As the Associate Program Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the internal resident program at Hopkins, she also supports programming to increase the recruitment and retention of underrepresented groups in the medical field.

“Baltimore is very diverse, and we really strive to have the provider workforce reflect the diversity of the communities we serve,” Tinsay said. “There have been multiple studies that show, in terms of patient rapport, this is beneficial.”

You can read more about Dr. Tinsay Woreta here.

Mandolyn Ludlum

2013 Undergraduate Transfer Scholar, 2018 Graduate Scholar, University of California at Berkeley

Mandolyn Ludlum, an artist, educator, creator, lover of people, and lifelong learner, is a 2013 Undergraduate Transfer Scholar, a 2018 Graduate Scholar, and current Alum. Mandolyn has always seen education as liberatory and transformational. She knew that she wanted to enter spaces where she could discuss her passion for educational access while speaking from a place of deep knowledge and research. She completed her undergraduate degree at University of California at Berkeley, and studied at the University of Cape Town and the University of Oxford.

Mandolyn has always sought out education with the intention to bring the knowledge back to her communities. She shared that education changes the way that we see ourselves and how we see the world. Additionally, Mandolyn says that education helped her reclaim herself and identify herself.

Throughout her life journey, Mandolyn has been inspired by the many women in her life. “Women soothe my heart. They hold my tears. They inspire me. There is something about moving through this world as a woman. I use that inclusive of people who identify as femme, just our entire community as women,” said Mandolyn.

Mandolyn, also known by her stage name Mystic, often incorporates themes of love and empowerment through her music, including many songs that uplift women. In her song, Girlfriend, Sistagirl, she reminds women that they were born to sing and made to fly. “The world doesn’t always treasure us, value us, protect us… I want to love up women and say, ‘Our trauma doesn’t define us and people can’t steal from us, our joy and our worth and our power, and we have to heal to be able to get to the other side, so to speak, or to get through that. But my God, you’re beautiful. My goodness, you’re worthy. I love you, even if nobody else loves you. I love you. I see you.’”