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June 1-July 27, 2022



Erina Fujino headshot

Erina Fujino

Erina Fujino is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Anesthesiology. Ms. Fujino’s path to medicine has not been straightforward but a winding journey of exploration and growth. Ms. Fujino was born in Japan and moved to the United States at the age of eight. She first became interested in medicine when she witnessed a physician trying their best to diagnose her parents’ ailments; she was determined to help others despite language barriers and cultural differences. After completing her medical school application requirements, she became interested in learning more about how the medical field operated from a practical business perspective. This influenced her to work in equity sales in Tokyo before starting medical school. In her first year of medical school, Ms. Fujino participated in the Anesthesiology Preceptorship Enrichment Program (APEP), where she was first exposed to the field. Various characteristics of anesthesiology were similar to those of equity sales, such as working in a fast-paced environment, applying technical skills that require constant problem-solving, working on immediate feedback, and utilizing interpersonal skills to help build bridges. As a member of the Castillo Scholars Program, she looks forward to learning more about an anesthesiologist’s daily routines and responsibilities and exploring certain subspecialties within the field. In her free time, Ms. Fujino enjoys traveling and running.

Diagnostic Radiology

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William (Andrew) Hiatt

William (Andrew) Hiatt is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Radiology. Coming from the LGBTQ+ community, Mr. Hiatt has navigated the often unspoken and under-researched experience of being gay in medicine and the unique challenges sexual minority medical students face to be their authentic selves in medicine. Mr. Hiatt has been particularly enthralled with the diagnostic phase of patient care throughout his time in medical school, naturally leading to his discovering a love of radiology in several imaging workshops during his first year. While beginning to explore the wide array of interesting diagnostic imaging modalities and techniques, he has also started working with a faculty mentor in the Breast Imaging division performing departmental research in rare breast carcinomas. In his free time, Mr. Hiatt enjoys spending time sharing good food among friends, practicing calligraphy, and working on his next design project.

Emergency Medicine

Abdul Hajjar headshot

Abdul Hajjar

Abdul Hajjar is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Emergency Medicine. He spent the majority of his childhood in Damascus, Syria, and came back to the United States seven years ago. Prior to entering medical school, Mr. Hajjar’s years of service in EMS as an EMT and as a scribe in the emergency department led to his deep interest in emergency medicine. He loves the collegiality and diversity that is found in this specialty. At the same time, he acknowledges the great privilege associated with caring for people when they are most ill. He has remained involved in emergency medicine at UNC, serving as the co-president of the emergency medicine interest group and engaging medical students in various field-specific talks and workshops. Mr. Hajjar hopes to dive deeply into the world of emergency medicine to enhance his skills and further his journey in becoming the physician he wants to be. He is excited to engage in the various clinical, research, and mentorship opportunities within the Castillo Scholars program. In his free time, he enjoys cooking, sudoku, gaming, and spending time with friends and family

Interventional Radiology

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Marinelda Perlleshi

Marinelda Perlleshi is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Radiology. She is a first-generation Albanian immigrant and first-generation college graduate, having worked in risk management for a short time before switching careers to pursue the study of medicine.  Before applying to medical school, Ms. Perlleshi’s extensive personal experiences as a patient led to her decision to become a nursing assistant at a hospital to understand the complexity and suitability of being a healthcare provider. Serving in that role throughout the height of the COVID-19 pandemic increased her fascination with medical science. It reaffirmed her determination to pursue a career path with such a meaningful impact on people’s lives. Ms. Perlleshi became interested in radiology during her first semester of medical school. She appreciates the focus on the whole body to make clinically difficult diagnoses and the better health outcomes afforded by minimally invasive procedures. She enjoys hiking through jungles, stand-up comedy, and is an embarrassing aunt.


Risk Alghorazi headshot
Rizk Alghorazi

Rizk Alghorazi is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Neurology. He is a first-generation college student and the first in his family to pursue a medical career. Mr. Alghorazi is a Yemeni-American born and raised in Goldsboro, NC. While helping his family care for his older brother, who was born with neurological disorders, Mr. Alghorazi developed an understanding of health and privilege at a young age. His compassionate care and knowledge of the physicians who cared for his brother inspired him. While in university, he developed a passion for research after joining his first lab with Dr. Stuber. From that experience, he went on to work and manage laboratories filled with individuals from various backgrounds. Mr. Alghorazi has helped refugees from around the globe settle in the Triangle. These experiences have cemented the value of diversity for Mr. Alghorazi, and he knows firsthand how unique backgrounds lead to novel ways of thinking. As such, he has made it his life goal to build and connect communities. In his free time, he enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Orthopedic Surgery

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Scott Giberson Jr.

Scott Giberson Jr. is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. As a child, Mr. Giberson initially became fascinated with the human body through his many experiences as an orthopedics patient. After college, Mr. Giberson spent a year conducting mental health research and community outreach efforts for UT Southwestern Medical Center. This opportunity allowed him to further his research passion and desire to work with diverse communities. Additionally, Mr. Giberson greatly believes in the power of mentorship. He has acted as a mentor since college, something he proudly continues with high school, undergraduate, and incoming medical students. He hopes to use medicine to combine his passions and skills in a way that can best advocate and care for underserved communities. Mr. Giberson co-leads UNC SOM’s Christian Medical Dental Association, serves on the Student Wellness Task Force, volunteers at the Bloomer Hill Clinic, acts as an Admissions Ambassador, mentors students, takes part in Choosing Wisely STARS and serves as the Medical Trainee President of Medicine Forward, a national physicians’ organization. Outside of his professional life, Mr. Giberson values time with his wife, puppy, and friends, writing, playing sand volleyball, and finding new coffee shops.


Obinna Ejimofor headshot
Obinna Ejimofor

Obinna Ejimofor is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Otolaryngology. Mr. Ejimofor is a Nigerian American scholar, having received his Bachelor of Science in Biology at UNC-Chapel Hill and a Masters in Physiology at N.C. State University. He grew up with anosmia, a medical condition that went undiagnosed for several years and was ultimately untreatable. Consequently, he adopted a keen interest in medicine. After witnessing and experiencing the setbacks associated with social determinants of health, his resolve to pursue medicine as a career only sharpened.  Mr. Ejimofor spent several gap years accumulating clinical experiences working with Clinical Resource Services at Novant Health and partnering with UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health as a Community Health Ambassador. He continues advocacy as he mentors pre-med students and advances health literacy in underserved communities. He is grateful for the opportunity to work in Otolaryngology and learn more in medicine’s numerous specialties. In his free time, you can find Mr. Ejimofor immersed in the art of storytelling: whether it be writing novellas, reading novels, watching cinema, or spending time with loved ones. He’s also surprisingly good at table tennis

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Gustavo Alonso Panduro Vargas headshot
Gustavo Alonso Panduro Vargas

Gustavo Alonso Panduro Vargas is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Mr. Panduro Vargas is a first-generation Mexican immigrant and a first-generation college graduate. Having the opportunity to grow up playing sports, loving anatomy, and majoring in Exercise and Sports Science in college, Mr. Panduro Vargas finds anything regarding the musculoskeletal system fascinating to learn. During his time in college, Mr. Panduro Vargas worked as a nursing assistant in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit where he learned the importance of interdisciplinary care in the hospital and communicating with patients. He was able to translate for Spanish speaking patients and their families during his time at the hospital, and he has committed to improving his medical Spanish during medical school and beyond. In his free time, Mr. Panduro Vargas enjoys trying new foods, working out, and spending time with family.

Radiation Oncology

Melanie Payne headshot
Melanie Payne

Melanie Payne is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity and Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Radiation Oncology. Ms. Payne became interested in radiation oncology after observing her father’s experience as a cancer patient. She remembers how difficult it was for her family to navigate his medical system then. Before starting medical school, she worked as a pharmacy technician in a community pharmacy. She was integral in creating and implementing safe and inclusive protocols for medication pickup for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ms. Payne is passionate about returning the knowledge and experience she gains back to her community and is an active volunteer at the Samaritan Health Clinic and SHAC. Since moving to North Carolina, she has been learning to play tennis and rock climb. She also enjoys gardening, listening to podcasts, and kayaking with her fiancé and their two dogs in her free time.


Samuel Tate III headshot
Samuel Tate III

Samuel Tate III is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Urology. Mr. Tate is originally from Miami, Florida, and is very proud to be a double Tar Heel. His interest in healthcare began at a young age as he saw the impact his mother had as a nurse. Growing up as an athlete shaped his interest in a team environment, and the collaborative, hands-on approach of surgical specialties highly appeals to him. Upon starting medical school, he was first exposed to urology and is fascinated by its wide scope of practice and the balance between surgical and medical interventions. Mr. Tate credits his success to those who have been generous in mentoring him. He continuously tries to give back by mentoring pre-medical students through multiple organizations and volunteering in two student-run free clinics. In his free time, Mr. Tate enjoys watching movies, taking long walks on the beach, and playing sports.

Vascular Surgery

Blair Byrd headshot
Blair Byrd

Blair Byrd is a 2022 Mauricio Castillo Diversity & Inclusion Scholar joining the Department of Vascular Surgery. During her undergraduate studies, her father sustained a myocardial infarction and had a LAD stent placed in order to open the vessel. Seeing the life-saving procedure outcomes personally shaped her interest in surgery. Throughout the first year of her medical training, Ms. Byrd paid particular attention to the physiologic formation of atherosclerotic plaque and peripheral vascular disease and the respective treatment options. She is a College Advocate for her medical class of 2025 and serves as an Admissions Ambassador for the UNC SOM. She is also enrolled in the Medical Education Scholarly Concentration Program and works with a medical illustrator to create a 3D animation of the cranial nerves. She is also assisting in a research project in Plastic Surgery and is a leader in the Interprofessional Education and Practice group at UNC. Ms. Byrd seeks to even the male to female ratio in surgery. Of 44 officers of the American Board of Surgery, only 5 are women. Further, none of these women are vascular surgeons. Ms. Byrd knows that to enhance female patient care in vascular disease, more female physicians must choose to become vascular surgeons.