We are so lucky to have so many dedicated individuals as part of our team! We would not be able to spread the magic without our coordinators, counselors, general members, advisory board and camp staff! We really appreciate all of their help and support!
The 2013-2014 Executive Board of Camp Kesem has been responsible for shaping the beginnings of Camp Kesem at Case Western Reserve University. These individuals were selected through a rigorous interview process in order to ensure that the first year runs smoothly and efficiently.
Brandon “BumBum” Vu
One of the founding members of Camp Kesem, Brandon Vu is a senior at Case Western majoring in Biochemistry and minoring in Anthroplogy. He is also a member of the Delta Sigma Phi Fraternity and a lab monkey in the Salomon Lab of the Chemistry Department. In his off days, he loves searching for music and enjoys watching the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Why He Kesems
“I have always had an interest in connecting the Case Western community with residents of the greater Cleveland area. Camp Kesem provides the perfect bridge between CWRU students and local children affected by their parent’s cancer. I am grateful for this unique opportunity to work with these children, and I hope that we can form a lasting relationship for the future.”
Yssra “Sparkles” Soliman
Yssra Soliman is a senior at CWRU, majoring in psychology and biology and minoring in Arabic. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, her family currently resides in Central Pennyslvania. Along with her involvement in CK, she is also the president of the Middle Eastern Cultural Association, vice president of the Muslim Student Association and a resident assistant. She hopes to attend medical school upon graduation and to, one day, become a physician in the field of pediatrics.
Why She Kesems
“I Kesem because I was once one of these kids. Four years ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer and it changed my life. These kids are incredibly strong, and I believe that they are some of tomorrow’s greatest leaders. CK simply makes them realize this by bringing them into a supportive and safe environment. Kesem helps the children realize that they are not alone and helps them heal. The magic of camp will impact the children for a lifetime.”
Adah “Monkey” Zhang
Adah Zhang is a Junior Applied Mathematics major with a concentration in Biostatistics originally from Orange, OH, a suburb of Cleveland. In addition to Camp Kesem, she is on the executive board of Kappa Alpha Theta serving as the Chief Administration Officer and on the cabinet as New Member Director. Furthermore, Adah works at the Biomedical Engineering Department in Administration as an Assistant Accountant. Adah plans on going to graduate school in Biostatistics. In her spare time, Adah enjoys running, the outdoors, and trying new foods.
Why She Kesems
“I Camp Kesem because I have seen firsthand what a camp for kids with family members affected by cancer can do for both the kids and the counselors. When a family member of mine was affected by cancer, I was too old to attend such a camp, so I volunteered as a counselor. The experience I had through this non-profit organization benefited me as much as the experience benefited the kids. I Camp Kesem because I know that such an organization fosters a unique and tight-knit family that is supportive through all stages of life.”
Vid “Neem” Yogeswaran
Vid’s full first name is actually nine letters, because all Sri Lankans have ridiculously long names. She is a senior biology major at CWRU and was also one of the founders of Camp Kesem at CWRU! She was born in Southampton, England and has lived in over ten different homes. Most of her life has been spent in London, England and Brooklyn, New York. Unfortunately, she does not have an accent. Vid aspires to be a diagnostic physician focusing on cancer and health reform.
Why She Kesems
“I was affected by cancer when I was younger. One of the things I realized was that I could have overcome it much sooner if I had had more support. That’s what I love about Camp Kesem. While it’s difficult to have cancer, it’s just as difficult to love someone with cancer. Camp Kesem really empowers these children and gives them the support they need to become the happiest and strongest people they can be.”
Kayleena “Kit Kat“ Brashear
Kayleena Brashear is a current sophomore at CWRU planning on a major in psychology and a Spanish minor. She is also very involved on campus with her sorority, Alpha Phi. Kayleena is originally from Geneva, Ohio and enjoys visiting her family often on weekends. Her plans for the future include going to graduate school for a masters in clinical counseling in order to work with children and their families.
Why She Kesems
“I Kesem because I am passionate about helping people through difficult times in their lives. My career goals make it obvious that I especially care about children, and Camp Kesem is such a unique opportunity to work with kids who are affected by a parent’s cancer. Through my personal experience, I have seen the mental and emotional toll cancer can have on immediate family members. My Aunt passed away due to cancer before I ever had the chance to meet her and last year, my best friend’s mom was diagnosed. I couldn’t imagine a better organization to channel my passion into!”
Kenya “Little Turtle” Coleman
Kenya Coleman is currently a sophomore Nursing major at Case Western Reserve University. She is originally from Mexico but she moved to the U.S during the summer of 2007 to pursue a higher quality education. She used to go back every summer to Mexico to visit her family but starting next summer she will settle down in Cleveland to work at either the Cleveland Clinic or University Hospitals in order to master the skills she has learned. As a fan of variety, she is involved in various groups on campus that encompass various sectors of society, she also enjoys reading, watching scary movies, going on bike rides, going to the gym and spending time with her family and friends. She aspires to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner and travel the world to discover the beautiful sights that the world has to offer.
Why She Kesems
“The driving force that inspired me to become a part of Kesem was my personal experience of having my grandpa suffering from cancer.He was like a father to me, a best friend, a role model of someone who faced many struggles in life yet never gave up and who maintained an incredible inner strength up to the very last moment. Seeing the man I admire more than anything was nothing short of easy and I had to live through this situation without being able to express my feelings because I knew everyone else had their own distress. Because I know what it’s like to live through this in silence, I don’t want kids to have to go through the same thing I did, I want them to know that there are people out there who care for them, understand what they’re going through and who will do everything in their power to bring the light back to their eyes, to remind them that in spite of the obstacles they’re facing, this world is still a beautiful place filled with kindness and love. I believe that there is no greater good in this world than being the reason behind a child’s genuine smile and I Kesem to make this a reality for the kids.”
Tia “Muffins” Mullins
Tia Mullins is a Junior at Case Western, majoring in Political Sceince and minoring in Spanish. Along with her involvement in Camp Kesem, she is actively involved in SpartanTHON and volunteers at the Cleveland International Services Center for Refugees. She has interests in international relations, and hopes to pursue a career in law post graduation.
Why She Kesems
“I joined Camp Kesem because I have a passion for helping kids. For these kids, there are not many resources available to help them during this difficult situation. Camp Kesem is the only organization that embraces this often-overlooked population. Through support and understanding, we provide an outlet and a sense of community for these kids that they might not otherwise have access to. Not only are we making an impact in these kids’ lives, we are impacting their parents’ lives as well. Parents might not be able to provide their children with the support and encouragement they need due to their battle with cancer, and that is what Camp Kesem is for. A stranger’s kindness can go a long way, and I believe Camp Kesem makes a difference in the lives of those affected by cancer.”
Suneil “Sunny” Kamath
Suneil Kamath is a sophomore business management student at CWRU. He is a member of the Center for Civic Engagement and Learning executive council, the civic engagement reporter for The Observer, and a member of Design For America. In his spare time, Suneil likes to catch up on TV shows, eat and try new foods, and play the violin and tennis.
Why He Kesems
“When I was in high school, I organized day camps for cancer patients and their siblings at a local children’s hospital. After months of experiencing challenge after challenge, the patients’ and their siblings’ loved the camp. It was a way for them to express their emotions, bond with others, and forget the hardships that they experienced. The smiles on their faces and the joy they exuded made me realize the importance the camp had on their emotional well-being; and I wanted to help organize a similar initiative in Cleveland. That’s why I Kesem.”
Pierce “Blue” Curran
Pierce Curran is currently a Sophomore at CWRU and is originally from Long Island, New York. He is majoring in both Psychology and Biology with intended minors in Childhood Studies and Social work. He intends to enlist in the Peace Corps after graduating, after which he plans to attend Medical School to become a Pediatric Surgeon. He is heavily involved in his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, and has held positions such as Recruitment Chair. He is also involved in other organization on campus including the Horizons Mentorship Program (where he is the coordinator of the mentorship committee) and, of course, Camp Kesem.
Why He Kesems
“For me, Camp Kesem is a place for these kids to grow into stronger people, to learn about what other kids like them are going through, and also, maybe most importantly, a place where these kids can have fun and forget about cancer for a little while. I remember what it was like to be a young kid whose mom had cancer, and I remember how scary and confusing it was to hear about my mom’s battle growing up. I’m grateful every day that I didn’t lose her, but I know that there are quite possibly millions of children out there today that are struggling to cope with the impact cancer has had on them and their families. I Kesem because at camp these children can not only find comfort in the fact that they aren’t alone, but can also learn to cope with what’s going on in their lives and build a network of people willing and able to support them as they move forward.”
Vashti “Hazel” Aguilar
Vashti Aguilar is a senior at CWRU, majoring in Biology and minoring in Communication Sciences and Chemistry. Originally from Venezuela, Vashti grew up on the outskirts of Chicago, Il. She is involved in CK, Emergency Medicine Research Division, Hillel and Chabad at Case. She enjoys immersing herself in the Case and Cleveland community as a mentor, mentee, and volunteer. She participates in cultural events and performs as a singer when she gets the chance. Vashti hopes to attend medical school and do international environmental health work as a physician and activist in the present and future.
Why She Kesems
“I Kesem because Cancer has been a recurring reality around me. My father is a cancer survivor, and I have seen him deal with many health issues because of the treatments he underwent when fighting cancer. My view of cancer has changed throughout the years. Although cancer can be terrifying and tragic in a family, there is no better way to fight it than with positive energy and love and hope. CK doesn’t just help provide a support group for kids who have parents who have/had cancer. CK is stronger than any chemo or radiation. It is a channel of support, hope, and life to parents/guardians and their children. The energy CK provides can kill multiple cancerous cells and pain all at once. When I found out about CK at other schools I remember thinking that we too needed to bring this Kesem to the Case community. Now that CK at Case is here, I cannot pass the opportunity to fuel the Healing power that CK provides.”
Tanvi “Chewy” Parmar
Tanvi Parmar is currently a sophomore Finance major at CWRU’s Weatherhead School of Management. She is originally from the wonderful town of South Brunswick, New Jersey. She enjoys her other roles on campus involving the school newspaper, undergraduate student government, Relay for Life and the tennis club. When she is not swamped with work (and even when she is) she loves to look up punny jokes, sing along to 80′s music and watch romantic comedies.
Why She Kesems
“I really believe in the cause that Camp Kesem advocates- to recognize the children who silently suffer and give them a happy and supportive place to make new friends and network. As someone who had a rare heart surgery when she was a child, I understand the importance of surrounding yourself with caring people who keep you smiling each and every day, even when you’re having a low day. Really, I want to be the needed support similar to what I gratefully received as a three year old kid.”
Christie “Khaleesi” Ellis
Christie Ellis is a senior at CWRU, double majoring in Medical Anthropology and Cognitive Science. Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, Christie has lived in Northeast Ohio her entire life. Along with Camp Kesem, she is heavily involved in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, and the Anthropology Student Association. Christie plans on pursuing a career focused on public health inequalities in public policy, and has particular interests in urban populations of impoverished children.
Why She Kesems
“When I first heard of Camp Kesem, it intrigued me because of the population it focused on– these children are often overlooked when people think about the effects of cancer. When I was growing up, one of my family members suffered from a mental disorder, and this dramatically affected both my lifestyle and personality. I can only imagine how different those experiences would have been if I was able to share them with others in the same situation– the sense of normalcy would have changed everything. Camp Kesem is able to do just that for the children of cancer patients. Being able to be part of this organization and help create a support system for these children is an amazing opportunity, and I am happy I can help spread the love.”
Applications for the 2014 Camp Kesem will be available soon!