William Kromka, Team Leader
William is a Colorado native that was born and raised in the Denver area. After receiving his undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and Physiology he started medical school at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He is currently a 4th-year medical student pursuing a career in psychiatry that involves global mental health. Outside of medicine and global health William’s interests include snowboarding, golfing, hiking, yoga, exercise, reading, and writing poetry.
Frederick “Taylor” Lynch, Team Member
My name is Frederick, but I have always gone by my middle name of Taylor. I was fortunate enough to grow up in Breckenridge, Colorado with the mountains in my back yard. I grew up ski racing and raced internationally for several years before deciding to pursue academics. I attended University of Colorado, Boulder for my undergraduate studies and received degrees in Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience. After graduating, I traveled to Nicaragua on a Paul Farmer inspired journey where I worked in a small clinic as an EMT and taught a First Aid class to community members in the area. I then returned to the States where I am now a fourth year Medical Student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. After graduation, I plan on going into Emergency Medicine.
Charlie Ventriglia, Team Member
As the oldest of three, Charlie had the opportunity to grow up with two younger brothers in their hometown of Los Angeles. After high school, he left California to attend University of Colorado at Boulder. While at Boulder, Charlie gravitated towards the sciences while cultivating a taste for inexpensive wine and passion for global health. The uncertainty of these years, even described as aimless at times, proved instrumental in his development as a person, and future physician. Charlie is currently in his 4th year at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and will be applying to Psychiatry residency in the fall. Outside of studying, he enjoys starting projects that he rarely finishes and in that vein, has began construction of a salt water aquarium; off to a very promising start.
Garrett Prince, Team Member
Garrett grew up on a golf course in small town outside of San Francisco, spending the majority of his childhood selling golf balls or hitting them. He obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of San Diego where he became interested in biological sciences and religious philosophy. You can find him tinkering with his fantasy sport teams at various coffee shops in Denver where he’s currently a fourth-year medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Outside of school he enjoys hiking, camping, traveling, and aggressively following his favorite sports teams.
Ahmed Tahseen, Team Member
Ahmed’s parents immigrated from two different countries, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, and they met in Colorado where he was born and raised. He grew up longboarding in the summers, skiing in the winters, and helping out at the family restaurant in downtown Denver. After attending the University of Colorado at Boulder, he is now in his fourth year of medical school at Creighton University School of Medicine. Many years of his childhood were spent in and out of the hospital which is where he originally founded his desire to become a patient advocate as a healthcare worker. Other interests include his joy for traveling to different countries, environmental conservation, and anything associated with J.K. Rowling.
The Khayelitsha township in South Africa lies just 31.6 kilometers from the cosmopolitan Cape Town, yet is profoundly distant in health outcomes, exampled by Khayelitsha’s 2006 under five infant mortality rate that was 342% higher than that of the country’s Southern Peninsula as a whole. Our experience working in the emergency department of Khayelitsha District Hospital powerfully underscored the importance of understanding the constellation of social determinants that define individual health and inform healthcare decision-making. The disproportionate poverty, violence, and disease burden of the townships are underpinned by historical prejudice that has endured as social inequality. This marginalization is not a tragic relic of a bygone era, but rather an artifact being actively preserved and restored in a new light.
Located on the fringe of Cape Town, these townships are an illustration of apartheid’s lasting mark on South Africa. By design, they are amongst the most densely populated places on Earth, resulting in overcrowding that amplifies disenfranchisement through inescapable economic hardship and disease burden. A majority of the trauma that presented to the emergency department was derived from gangs composed of boys with no direction, no other option within an opportunity-barren landscape beget by a lack of community bond, itself a product of the destruction of vibrant communities by apartheid policies. Unquestionably there has been tremendous progress in South Africa; however, 20 years later, there are still sizable inequities that are too blatant to be ignored.
Sitting on the rocks of Clifton beach #3 was a moment that captured the inescapable contradictions at work in South Africa- the setting sun projecting its color wheel over the ocean, splashing on the jettisons of Table Mountain, seemingly in sync with the rhythmic snap of the electric fence placed atop a layer of barbed wire, protecting the perimeter of the beachside mansion behind us. Structural inequality of this nature cannot be tucked away, out of sight in the Cape Flats, Brazilian Favelas, or Southside Chicago.
In Xhosa, the word Khayelitsha means ‘our new home.’ Indeed, outside of the stabbings, assaults, overdoses, and preventable deaths Khayelitsha is home to a community of over one million people, a majority of which just want better lives and greater opportunity for themselves and their loved ones. Healthcare, particularly global health, puts one at the receiving end of a large sieve that has filtered out the communities, relationships, and everything else that composes an individual and presented you- the physician, the nurse, the student, the technician- with someone at their most vulnerable. A transformation toward a more equitable society does not happen overnight; yet, as members of the global medical field, we can help galvanize it by mustering within ourselves the same self-preservation and fortitude exhibited by those who are marginalized.