Zeena Khazendar is a junior at Stanford University majoring in human biology with a concentration in design for global health and social impact. Zeena’s coursework, extracurricular involvement, and research reflect her commitment to advocating for marginalized communities. Zeena is advancing health equity through a project with Stanford Medicine’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Health Program to address the mental health needs of Yemeni women and girls. She also serves as a director of Student Clinical Opportunities for Premedical Experience (SCOPE), which provides Spanish and Vietnamese interpretation and volunteer services at a local level-one trauma center. As a member of Stanford’s Division 1 Beach Volleyball team, Zeena draws on her athletic talents for public service. She has served as sports director for Stanford’s chapter of Kids with Dreams (KWD), a student organization supporting children with special needs, and previously as head coach for the Special Olympics volleyball team in her hometown.
As a Palestinian student who grew up in Jordan, surrounded by refugee camps, I was exposed to the failures of low-resource healthcare at a young age. With much of my family becoming double refugees—from Palestine, then Syria—I developed a fierce passion for serving vulnerable populations. As a human biology major at Stanford, I became a director of Student Clinical Opportunities for Premedical Experience (SCOPE), an organization of diverse premedical students providing Spanish and Vietnamese interpretation and volunteer services at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. I also joined the Biobehavioral Pediatric Pain Lab, which is leading research on the relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences and pediatric chronic pain outcomes. Fascinated with my exposure to emergency medicine and pediatrics, I am clinically pursuing pediatric emergency medicine. However, I believe my largest impact will be in global health. Working with Stanford Medicine’s MENA Health Program to respond systematically to health needs in the Middle East/North Africa, I recently proposed a project to address unmanaged mental health needs of women in Yemen. I look forward to continuing to support underserved populations within my community and others toward a goal of implementing a centralized, collaborative network of replicable and sustainable global health models.