Meet the Reproductive Health Interest Group Team!

RHIG is a registered graduate student group at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Founded in 2002, RHIG brings together students, faculty, and staff to learn about and discuss reproductive health issues, share information, and engage in service and advocacy projects.

This year the RHIG leadership is a group of energetic young ladies who are incredibly excited to continue the journey of advocacy and social justice work with the UCLA community.

Meet the Team!


Sarah Jane Smith, Co-President
Sarah Jane Smith is a graduate student at UCLA working towards her MPH in Community Health Sciences and MA in Latin American Studies. Prior to starting graduate school she worked at Planned Parenthood NorCal for 4 years as a Reproductive Health Specialist III, where she provided comprehensive reproductive healthcare to a primarily uninsured population. She graduated with two BA degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz; one in Feminist Studies with an emphasis in Science, Technology, and Medicine and the other Community Studies with an emphasis in Reproductive Justice. Currently, she serves on the board of directors of Doctors for Global Health (DGH) and as the co-chair of their Human Rights and Advocacy Committee. Her work with DGH is primarily focused on solidarity work with DGHs’ partner communities in Central America, and engaging with students, advocates, health care professionals, and community members on the practice of Liberation Medicine.  Her research interests include: The social determinants of health; reproductive health; intersection of public health & social justice; immigrant & refugee health; worker health & safety in the industries of healthcare, agriculture, and construction; the social production of disease and distress; structural vulnerability to poor health outcomes; reproductive health in Central America; and liberation medicine and public health praxis. Sarah Jane has been committed to social justice work for 15 years. As co-president of RHIG, she has focused her efforts on utilizing an intersectional framework grounded in reproductive justice to engage with students and faculty on the complexities of reproductive health.


Subasri Narasimhan, Co-President
Suba is a 3rd year PhD student in the Community health Sciences Department and her research focuses on contraceptive use and couples’ dynamics in international settings. Prior to UCLA and RHIG, she was a Reproductive Health Specialist for the Family Planning Group at UNC-Chapel Hill, a research group focusing on contraceptive and women’s health research. Her job allowed her to get involved in state politics and increased her experience in reproductive advocacy and justice.  Suba was also an HIV counselor and public health leader for the Student’s Health Action Coalition, a student run free clinic through UNC-Chapel Hill.  As a member of the advisory board she wrote new and more gender equitable policies regarding STI counseling and HIV testing that were enacted in the clinic setting.  She hails from NC, which allowed her to hone a deep love of college basketball, microbrews, and beach bonfires in Autumn.  She is extremely excited to be Co-President for the 2015-2016 year and can’t wait to undertake all the RHIG activities for the year.


Natalie Dickson, Vice-President
Natalie is pursuing a MA in African Studies (MA) and a Master’s of Public Health (MPH). She was born and raised in Oklahoma, and she received her BA in Anthropology and African & African-American Studies from the University of Oklahoma in 2014. As an undergraduate, Natalie was a Ronald E. McNair Scholar and carried out a research project on how public health can do a better job designing programs for African-American men and MSM in the south. Natalie also had the opportunity to study abroad in Tanzania under the Benjamin A. Gilman National scholarship.

Within the field of public health, Natalie is interested in HIV prevention, sexual and reproductive health, the social determinants of health, and social justice issues in general. Natalie spent the summer of 2015 interning at Population Council in Nairobi, Kenya. Within the field of African Studies, Natalie is interested in East Africa – specifically Tanzania and Kenya. She hopes to conduct qualitative research on how different communities in Kenya view voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) as an HIV reduction strategy, and how VMMC differs in meaning from traditional male circumcision.

Natalie is married to her high school sweetheart, loves to cook and bake, is an avid Zumba fan, and is also into extreme couponing. Natalie is currently learning Kiswahili in hopes of traveling back to Kenya for her thesis research. Feel free to reach out any time!


Monica Ramsy, Secretary
Monica is a second-generation, Egyptian-American, cis- (pronouns she/her/hers) 22-year-old woman with designs to translate her passion for feminist activism into a career in healthcare advocacy. As a child of diaspora, she is particularly interested in advocacy that focuses on the intersections between sexual health and mental health in diasporic communities of color. Monica originally hails from a small town in Ohio, but has lived in Los Angeles the past four years, where she studied Gender Studies and Natural Sciences at the University of Southern California. After graduating, she worked for Sandra Fluke’s State Senate Campaign and worked as an organizer for the Feminist Majority Foundation. Monica is interested in pursuing graduate work specializing on research that examines the connections between shame, trauma and healthcare disparities. Monica is supremely excited to serve as the Secretary for RHIG this year! She will also be interning at UCLA’s Iris Cantor Women’s Health Center for the Lesbian, Bisexual Women’s Health Project.Some of her favorite things include: music theatre, reading  (notably, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, and Toni Morrison), writing, swimming in high-noon sun, and playing with her kitten Moxie (so named because she found him crossing the freeway while driving). Some of Monica’s future goals include: learning how to garden, fully developing her new-found infatuation with bouldering, and starting a publication for 1st and 2nd generation people of color to share, excavate and narrativize their experiences of diaspora.


Sally Saleh, Treasurer
Sally Saleh earned her BS in Nutrition at Cal Poly Pomona in 2013, where she also worked as a Peer Health Educator in a variety of wellness topics. Having always been interested in social issues and their intersection with health, she decided to pursue an MPH in Community Health Sciences at UCLA. Being a second-generation Arab American and growing up in a Muslim household, she felt strongly about advocating for reproductive justice, women’s rights, gender equity, sexual minority justice, and equal access to education throughout a woman’s life. RHIG has provided an opportunity to explore and strengthen this aspect of her interests. Her other interests include social justice, lactation, maternal and child health, social determinants of health, and sexual health. After UCLA, Sally hopes to pursue a Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and a Lactation Consultant program to become an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. One of her long-term goals is to open a non-profit geared towards Arab/Arab-American women and provide services that empower them and meet their needs in the struggles we face within our communities. During her spare time, Sally enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring Los Angeles, trips to the beach, being a foodie, salsa dancing, and using her passion planner.


Emily Rozema, Education Co-Chair
Emily is a 2nd year MPH student in the Community Health Sciences department. Her interest in sexual and reproductive health began during her senior year at Northern Arizona University as a health education intern for the local county health department. While she was thrilled to discover her passion for sexual health education, she felt unable to effectively reach her most at-risk audiences with the limited curriculum and minimal training she was given. This inspired Emily to pursue her current degree. She looks forward to a career of community-based work in order to properly educate unique audiences about sexual health.

Some of Emily’s favorite things are delicious desserts, hilarious puns, and full nights of sleep. She spends her spare time exercising, doing crossword puzzles, and spending time with family in her home town of Woodland Hills.

Marisol Torres, Education Co-Chair
Marisol has her BS in Health Science/Public Health from Cal State San Bernardino, and a single-subject teaching credential from University of Redlands. Previously, Marisol was a high school health teacher for six years in which she developed and implemented curriculum in nutrition, mental health, drug and alcohol use, and sexual health. Marisol has also done other work outside teaching including HIV/AIDS research, intimate partner violence research, reentry coalition building, youth leadership and brief intervention. Currently, Marisol is in my second year of the Masters of Public Health program in the Community Health Science Department and a member of the Students of Color for Public Health and CHS Grads for Racial Justice. She is also a College Academic Mentor here at UCLA and TA in the Chicano Studies Department. Her academic interests include social determinants of health, health equity, adolescent health, and reproductive and sexual health. Marisol is very excited to work as Co-Chair of the Health Education Sub-Committee, with the many health education opportunities they will be offering through RHIG this year! She invites all UCLA students from any discipline who have an interest in reproductive health or would like to learn about it to check us out!


Caitlin O’Connor, Social Media Coordinator
Caitlin is first year MPH student in the Department of Community Health Sciences. As the daughter of two public health nurses, Caitlin was exposed to the intricacies and perplexities of the public health field at an early age. She hails from sunny Ventura, CA, and she earned her B.A. in Black Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. While in college, Caitlin had the opportunity to work with the local Planned Parenthood clinic as a Public Affairs Intern. She became fascinated with health education and advocacy and knew she wanted to get involved in making meaningful change in the field of health care. After college she served in the US Peace Corps as a Community Health Educator in Swaziland, a beautiful, mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa. While serving in Swaziland, Caitlin lived and worked in a rural farming village, working alongside community members and local NGOs to provide health education and promotion at the grassroots level. Though it was challenging at times, it was ultimately this experience of working abroad that solidified her decision to pursue community health as a career. She is thrilled to be at UCLA and to be working as the social media coordinator for RHIG. In her spare time, she enjoys going to Dodger games, finding great happy hour specials, and hanging out at dog parks (with or without her dogs).


Michelle Smudde, Advocacy Co-Chair

Michelle Smudde is currently employed as the Senior Survey Worker with UCLA’s division of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS); the first and largest study specifically created to examine the natural history of HIV/AIDS. On a daily basis she administers questionnaires and neuropsychological assessments to participants from the original cohort of men who have sex with men (MSM) recruited in 1984.

Michelle received her MA in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy from Pepperdine University in 2014. She completed her clinical practicum at the Valley Women’s Center in Canoga Park, California; where she was responsible for providing individual and group psychotherapeutic services to both victims of domestic violence and substance abuse clients. Michelle also attended a number of AASECT-approved clinical sexology trainings and worked as a Graduate Research Assistant for Pepperdine’s Social Science Division and the Graduate School of Education and Psychology during this time.

Michelle received her BA in Psychology with minors in Human Development and Family Studies, as well as Gender Studies, from Indiana University in 2012. While she held a number of research, teaching and community volunteer positions throughout her undergraduate education, she primarily attributes the development of her interest in issues related to gender and sexuality to her exposure to the Kinsey Institute.

Michelle reports that uncovering opportunities which continue to contribute to a discourse regarding gender and sexuality have been a driving force in the choices she has made throughout her career and were a major factor in her decision to join UCLA’s RHIG.


Jasmine Uysal, Advocacy Co-Chair
Jasmine is currently pursuing her MPH in Community Health Sciences from UCLA Fielding School of Public Health where she plans to focus in Reproductive and Global Health. Since graduating from the University of Southern California in 2014 with a B.A. in Health & Humanities emphasis in Global Health, Jasmine has been avidly promoting health care equality and access in underprivileged populations through a series of nonprofit management and advocacy efforts. Over the past year Jasmine worked both as a Mobile Health Intern at World Vision International, where she was lead author and researcher on the peer reviewed internal Global mHealth Report, and as a Global Health Leadership Intern and at Unite for Sight where she wrote two educational courses on environmental health hazards and conducted data analysis on clinic research data from India. Jasmine also currently serves as the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) Director of Communications using social media advocacy to prompt political change and increase public awareness on the dangers of asbestos. In the future, she intends to implement sustainable community health solutions in underdeveloped countries targeting reproductive and environmental health constraints. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading, yoga, traveling, and getting outdoors.

The RHIG Team would love to have you join them.  If you would like to become a member or have questions about the group, please email RHIG at


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