Skip to main content

Orientation 2023 - Get to Know Your Lead Advisors

headshots of all the lead advisors

Lead advisors serve as medical students’ primary advising contact at Indiana University School of Medicine through all four years of medical school. Each MD student is assigned a lead advisor by their first-year campus, and the relationship follows the IU School of Medicine college/house structure. Students are required to meet with their lead advisor one-on-one at least three times each year.

This blog will help you get to know the lead advisors on your campus.

Kristina Borger

Campus: South Bend

Hometown: Lansing, MI

Advice for first year students: Congratulations and welcome! You have worked hard for acceptance to medical school and belong here.  Be patient with yourself and take it one day at a time. Do not hesitate to talk with faculty, mentors, and advisors and utilize available resources including tutoring. Listen to study tips given in orientation and from mentors and faculty and work to find what methods are best for you. Take time for yourself along the way and get to know your classmates and others you are working with. There is an incredible team at IU School of Medicine prepared to help and support you. 

Favorite stress management technique: I try to stop, breathe, and think through why I am feeling stressed. Usually, I break things down mentally or create a list of the top stressors on my mind. I then sort through the items/worries that I can control and determine what I need to do/where I can start. Sometimes it can help to physically step away and focus on my breathing/refocus, go for a walk, or talk things through with someone I trust. 

What I like to do in my free time: I am married and have three daughters and enjoy spending time with my friends and family. I like to read, cook/bake, and spend time outside.


Rachel Dirig

Campus: Fort Wayne

Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN

Advice for first-year students: Be kind to yourself! It’s so important to remember all of the hard work you put in to get here – you deserve to be here and you belong here. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, please know that there are many people and resources ready to help you. Reach out right away.

Favorite stress management technique: Walking outside (anything above 25 degrees works for me!)

What I like to do in my free time: I love spending time with my husband and four kids. I also enjoy reading, hiking, exercising, vacations, and the theatre.

Kristen Heath

Kristen Heath

Campus: Indianapolis (EAST)

Hometown: Bloomington, Indiana

Advice for first year students: Choose one thing that you love doing and promise to keep doing it! It will become your first instinct to neglect everything in your life to pursue a life of studying 24/7, but this will be detrimental to your success. Self-care is preservation!

Favorite stress management technique: Exercise and naps!

What I like to do in my free time: Dance… followed closely by Netflix.

Jamie Henderlong

Jamie Henderlong

Campus: Evansville

Hometown: Evansville, IN

Advice for first year students: Ask for help when you need it! There are so many resources available for you and people that want to see you succeed. It is not a weakness to admit needing help. Don’t suffer in silence!

My favorite stress management techniques: Yoga, running. I’ve also found coloring with my preschooler to be very relaxing and therapeutic.

What I like to do in my free time: Read, spend time with family, travel, try new restaurants

Tiffany Holmes

Tiffany Holmes

Campus: Indianapolis

Hometown: Metro Detroit

Advice for first year students: Be open to new experiences and learn to lean into your community!

My favorite stress management techniques: Baking and FaceTiming with my friends and family. 

What I like to do in my free time: Travel, reading when not for school, and I love baking. 

headshot of Ashley Holt

Ashley Holt

Campus: Terre Haute

Hometown: Riley, IN

Advice for first year students: Be adaptable and be open to asking for help, when needed! Rely on your classmates for support. Everyone here wants to see you succeed!

Favorite stress management technique: Healthy sleeping habits!

What I like to do in my free time: Portrait photography, travel, and spending time with my family!

Mark Mach

Campus: Bloomington

Hometown: San Jose, CA

Advice for first year students: Seek advice from students in classes above you in almost everything. They have been through this before. Remember that medical school is a marathon and not a sprint. Tap into all your resources. Create a study and time management plan early on and try to stick to it. Lean on family and friends frequently for support and encouragement. Do not neglect the hobbies, interests, and passions that you brought with you into medical school. Care for self and others.

Favorite stress management technique: I love taking walks as it clears my mind. I try to get outside nearly every day, even in the coldest weather. I am known for taking midday walks and often invite students to do the same. I try to remember the bigger perspective of life being a journey. I try not to get too wrapped into life’s constant dramas. For me, remembering the big picture is very important. Sleep well (7 to 8 hours), eat well (minimize sugar and have lots of vegetables), drink lots of water, and exercise frequently. Get outside at least 30 minutes a day.

What I like to do in my free time: Walking, spending time with family, traveling, reading, and eating my favorite foods. I like to wax philosophical and reflect on the meaning of life. I enjoy looking through old historical photographs of eras in history that I am especially interested in.

Matthews Kelly

Kelly Matthews

Campus: Indianapolis

Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN

Advice for first year students: Take the time to get to know your classmates. They make great study partners and shoulders to lean on when you are going through tough times. These relationships often lead to lifetime friendships and professional networking opportunities. Also, be sure to continue connecting with your friends and family outside of medical school for support and a greater perspective on life in general.

Favorite stress management technique: Get outside in nature! Going for a walk outside in warm or colder (bundle up!) weather always helps me recharge and remember that my problems are small in comparison to the great world out there. 

What I like to do in my free time: Spend time with my family and friends, walking, hiking, biking, kayaking, and anything outdoors.

Portrait of Iyabode Okoro

Iyabode O. Okoro (Dr. O)

Campus: Indianapolis

Advice for first year students: Keep your eyes on the goal.

Favorite stress management technique: Being quiet

What I like to do in my free time: Read

Olivia Fellows

Olivia Fellows

Campus: Muncie

Hometown: Paducah, KY

Advice for first year students: Be open and adaptable to change. Medical school is a very large transition from undergraduate/graduate school. You will learn so many new things about yourself on this journey. Utilize the people/resources available to you as they can make all the difference. Lastly, taking care of yourself is equally important!

Favorite stress management technique: Meditation with ambient music either in the morning or evening is one of my personal favorites. I think finding what brings you joy, and peace will be your best technique.

What I like to do in my free time: Spending time with family/friends, cooking/baking, and loving on my two cats, Reese and Isla! I also love giving back to Muncie through volunteerism and board/committee service.

Stephanie Sachs

Stephanie Sachs

Campus: Indianapolis

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Advice for first year students: Believe in yourself and be your own biggest cheerleader! Celebrate the small wins along the way (passing your first exam!) as it will help you stay motivated for the journey that is med school. Remember that it’s more than okay to stumble here and there, just don’t be shy to reach out and ask for help when you need it!

Favorite stress management technique: Music—listen to it, play it, sing it, dance it, embrace it and lose yourself in the moment. Also, when I’m trying to let stressful things go, I do a visualization exercise where I literally let it go. I imagine the thing/person/responsibility that is stressing me out and picture it attached to my body. Then I physically do the motions of pulling it off of me, tossing it to the side and ‘letting it go.’ It often truly feels like a weight lifted off of my shoulders.

What I like to do in my free time: On an average week, you can find me snapping cute pics of my dog, trying new restaurants with my husband, and spoiling my one and only niece. I’m also probably planning my next trip to Disney World or looking forward to my book club with my best friends I’ve known since middle school. I’m always searching for the next grail to add to my collection of toys from the 1980s, most likely a Care Bear!

Alison Zovko

Ali Zovko

Campus: Northwest

Hometown: Chicago (Home of the BEST food around!)

Advice for first year students: You are here because you ARE capable and deserve to be here! When things feel tough, remember that tough times are only temporary, and you WILL get through it! Don’t be afraid to ask for help or try new things. Your greatest potential is often reached outside of your comfort zone.

Favorite stress management technique: Take a break and do something that you enjoy for YOU. Self-care is extremely important. Once a week I have a date day for myself and by myself. I go to lunch, I get my fav coffee, I take myself shopping or just do something I enjoy for ME. This is a great way to ground yourself during the week and regroup. 

What I like to do in my free time: I am a member of a UFC Gym and practice boxing as well as other UFC techniques 3-4 days a week. I also enjoy playing softball, fishing and exploring new places.

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.
Default Author Avatar IUSM Logo

Megan Stephens

Megan is a communications specialist in Medical Student Education. She calls herself a storyteller, having worked with many publications and companies to write engaging, creative, and compelling content. Before joining IU School of Medicine in March 2022, she worked as assistant editor of communications at IU School of Dentistry, content manager at an Indianapolis-based content marketing company, and a freelance writer.