NRHA Rural Health Students Group

NRHA's Student Constituency Group is comprised of student members, who are the future workforce and leaders in rural America.

As members, students can come together with their peers, educators, administrators, health professionals and other stakeholders to create a dialogue about rural health and related issues, such as workforce and policy.

NRHA’s Student Constituency Group is overseen by a board of students who are elected each year. The board assists in recruitment, plans NRHA’s Annual Rural Health Conference student track and promotes rural health issues.

Want to get involved?
Email NRHA’s student outreach coordinators. We're eager to get students and schools involved and provide updates on future NRHA leadership opportunities, including student board elections.

NRHA student board members
NRHA’s student board members are passionate about rural health and education and would love to hear from you. Below are bios about each of our current board members with contact information.


2020 NRHA Student CG Board

Alex Crockett
Student Constituency Group Chair

Alex Crockett is currently a fourth-year medical student at East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine and serves as the Chair of NRHA's Student Constituency Group. Alex is a lifelong resident of East Tennessee and his experiences living, working, and learning in communities throughout Appalachia helped shape his interest in and passion for rural health, social justice, and advocacy. He attended the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where his undergraduate studies included food science and political science and served with nonprofits and advocacy efforts related to health care disparities, food justice, and education reform. In 2018, Alex traveled to the United Kingdom as a Fulbright Award recipient to study agriculture and rural development at the University of East Anglia. Alex's current research and advocacy interests include LGBT+ health and rural maternal health. Upon graduating from medical school, he plans to pursue a career as a primary care doctor providing maternity care, gender affirming care, and HIV care in rural and underserved communities. He hopes to one day work in medical education and influence health care policy. Outside of medicine, Alex is a self-proclaimed foodie who loves taking time to try new restaurants and recipes and to explore the culinary history of Appalachia and the South. 

Rebecka Ernst
Vice Chair


Bingyue October Zhang
DEI/HEC Liaison 

October is currently a third-year medical student at the University of Missouri. She graduated from the University of Missouri with an undergraduate degree in mathematics in 2020. October has been elected to participate in the Rural Scholars Program and is completing her rural clinical rotation in Sedalia, Mo., where she will actively take care of a panel of patients with complex medical needs across a variety of disciplines. As a National Health Service Corp Scholar, she is committed to serving in the most high-need areas after completing residency. Currently, her specialty interests include but are not limited to family medicine and psychiatry. Outside of school and clinicals, you can find her hiking, camping, playing guitar and guzheng, and spending time with family and friends. 

Julia Lai
Rural Medical Education Liaison 

Eneka Lamb
Policy Liaison 

Eneka is currently a medical student in the Leadership in Rural Medicine Program at Michigan State College of Human Medicine (MSUCHM). Born and raised in Hong Kong, she earned a BS at Duke University in a major she designed: Global Perspectives of Maternal and Child Health. At Duke, she was a member and captain of the varsity swimming & diving team. After her undergraduate studies, Eneka served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Guyana for 3.5 years, then earned a master's degree in physiology from Georgetown University. At MSUCHM, Eneka is pursuing research interests related to vulnerable populations, obstetrics and gynecology, fetal development, oncology, and genetics. Through the past decade, Eneka has paved a path towards a career in medicine as a primary care physician committed to serving marginalized and vulnerable communities.

Anna Harmeling
Policy Liaison 


Sophie Hathaway
Region 1 Coordinator 

Sophie is currently a first-year graduate student at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, studying global health and population. Originally from Western Massachusetts, Sophie attributes witnessing the challenges that rural post-industrial communities face as the catalyst for her interest in rural health. Sophie completed her undergraduate studies at American University in Washington, D.C., receiving degrees in public health and health promotion with a specific focus on social and community health practices. As a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates grant and the Mathias Undergraduate Fellowship grant, her research focuses on interactions between rurality and sexual identity with a specific focus on substance use and health quality of life outcomes. In her role as recruitment coordinator for region 1 she hopes to mobilize and inspire students on the East Coast to meaningfully engage with however rural manifests in their communities. Additionally, Sophie hopes to support greater efforts for rural visibility on the East Coast and improve student service and outreach to communities in need.


Jennifer Davis
Region 2 Coordinator 

Jennifer is currently a fourth-year MD/MPH student in the Rural Primary Care Track Program at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine. She is a lifelong East Tennessee native and grew up on a small farm nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in education at the University of Tennessee Knoxville where she majored in kinesiology, minored in leadership studies, and was tabbed a four-year varsity letter winner on the women’s division rowing team. Before matriculating into medical school, Jennifer accepted a post-graduate fellowship and moved to Costa Rica to build GLASS, Girls Leadership Academy for Service and Sport, a youth leadership program for female athletes. Jennifer’s experiences growing up in Appalachia inspire her interests in rural health care, community health, and education. She is an AHEC Rural Scholar, president of Quillen’s Gold Humanism Honors Society, and serves on the Organization of Student Representatives. Jennifer is passionate about serving rural and underserved communities and is currently pursuing a career in family medicine. Outside of medicine, Jennifer enjoys traveling to new places, trying locally-owned restaurants, and engaging in a variety of her favorite sports including rowing, tennis, volleyball, and running.


Olivia M. Dhaliwal
Region 3 Coordinator

Olivia is currently a rising third-year medical student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and is very excited about her future in rural medicine. As Student Liaison for Region 3, she hopes to increase awareness of and involvement in NRHA for students already interested in rural medicine, and to inspire more medical students to learn more about the infinite career and leadership opportunities in rural communities across America. Long term, she will be working for the VA for the first five years after residency, and after that plans to open her own direct primary care practice with a focus on whole person, integrative, and broad-spectrum family care. Outside of the medical realm, Olivia enjoys writing poetry, traveling, and doing a variety of activities including CrossFit, yoga, hiking, and cycling. 

Abigail Beach
Region 4 Coordinator 


Zachary T. Schroeder
Region 5 Coordinator 

Zack is currently a medical student at The University of Kansas School of Medicine. He attended the University of Kansas for his undergraduate degree where he majored in human biology and minored in business. Having spent time in hospitals and clinics all over the world, his passion is in rural health care. After finishing his medical degree, he hopes to pursue a residency in family medicine and return to his hometown of Independence, Kan., to care for rural communities. In this position he hopes he can build relationships with schools in the region and recruit individuals who are as passionate about rural medicine as he is. 


Brenden Barness
Region 6 Coordinator 

Brenden is currently a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine Tucson and is a part of the rural health, commitment to underserved populations, and research distinction tracts. As an Arizona native, he received his undergraduate degree in physiology from the University of Arizona. Brenden hopes to practice within primary care, aiming to further specialize to better serve and address the disparities that exist for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In his free time, Brenden enjoys boxing and giving campus tours, sharing the origin story of "Bear Down."


Allie Drue Dixon McCurry
Region 7 Coordinator 

Al is currently a first-year medical student at the University of Washington School of Medicine at the Moscow, Idaho Foundations Site. She is a Targeted Rural Underserved Track scholar and is working towards completing her Underserved Pathway certification. Whe graduated from Montana State University in 2021 with an undergraduate degree in cell biology & neuroscience as well as minors in business administration and finance. Al grew up in the small town of Stanley, Idaho, and aspires to move back to rural Idaho as a primary care provider. Along with wanting to increase access to higher quality health care in rural areas, she aims to find affordable solutions that will promote a financially sustainable future. For fun, Al enjoys making quilts for her loved ones, getting overly competitive in games of Pinochle, swing-dancing every chance she gets, and spending time with her Australian Shepherd puppy named Clancy. 


Bradley Firchow
Communications Director 

Bradley is currently a second-year medical student in the Rural Physician Leadership Program at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. He grew up in the small town of Russellville, Ky., and received a bachelor of science in biopsychology with a concentration in public health from Oglethorpe University. Bradley is a graduate assistant for the Journal of Appalachian Health, and he is a current research fellow in the UK Department of Family and Community Medicine where he is investigating aggregated community health needs assessments in Kentucky. He is a prior health communications specialist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 Response where he led inter-agency rural health communications initiatives, as well as outreach to the State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Work Group. Bradley is a National Health Service Corps Scholar and will be pursuing a career in rural primary care, with hopes of practicing in Central Appalachia.