Meet Our 2022-2023 Interns

Hyunjoon (Joon) Choi

Corporal, US Army, Skillbridge Intern, July 2022-October 2022

Corporal Hyunjoon (Joon) Choi has served on active duty in the US Army since 2018. He is as a Behavioral Health Specialist attached to 1st Medical Brigade in Fort Hood, Texas. He also volunteers as a Research Assistant at The STRONG STAR (South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience), an interdisciplinary and multi-institutional research consortium focused on the detection, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and related conditions in military personnel and veterans. 


CPL Choi was born in South Korea, immigrated to the U.S. in 2001, and grew up in Long Beach, California. Before he decided to pursue a career in medicine, he studied Christian education at West Coast Baptist College in Lancaster, California. He graduated with his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Religious Education in 2011.


CPL Choi earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences from Chapman University in 2017, and is pursuing a career in medicine.


Geony Yoo

Sergeant, US Army, Skillbridge Intern, July 2022-October 2022

Sergeant Geony Yoo is a Behavioral Health Technician in the United States Army. Sergeant Yoo graduated from Basic Combat Training from Fort Sill, OK in December, 2018 and graduated from his Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for the MOS 68X Behavioral Health Technician in May, 2019.

Sergeant Yoo has been stationed in Fort Hood, TX with the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (3ABCT) of the 1st Cavalry Division. During his time with his unit, Sergeant Yoo deployed to South Korea for a 9-month rotation - serving soldiers from both his organic unit and 2nd Infantry Division, the main U.S. Army force stationed in South Korea. After he returned to Fort Hood in 2020, Sergeant Yoo continued to serve soldiers with behavioral health problems at an outpatient behavioral health clinic during the COVID-19 pandemic. After his promotion to a Non-Commissioned Officer in March, 2021, Sergeant Yoo has been working as the Behavioral Health Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC) of 3ABCT, tasked with managing the behavioral health care of 4300+ soldiers in his unit.

Originally from South Korea, Sergeant Yoo moved to the United States, at age 12, to Lynchburg, VA. He completed middle and high school in Lynchburg, VA, before heading to Dallas, TX, where he enlisted into the US Army.  

Sergeant Yoo has completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Texas at Dallas, and is currently pursuing a career in medicine.


Jacob Morris

First Lieutenant, US Army, Skillbridge Intern, August 2022-February 2023

Jacob Morris is a 1LT and serves as an Infantry Officer the United States Army. He earned his BA in International Studies with emphasis on the Middle East and North Africa from his hometown Bradley University in 2019. He was offered the opportunity to study a semester abroad in Morocco in the Fall of 2018. During his time at Bradley he was a Cadet in the Army ROTC program and upon graduating commissioned.

First Lieutenant Morris was born in Peoria Illinois, moved several times as a child but returned to Peoria to finish his high school and College education.

Jacob has been serving as an Infantry Officer for two and a hald years. His time started at Fort Benning GA, where he attended both Infantry Basic Officer Leader Course (IBOLC) and Airborne School. He then was stationed at JRTC & Fort Polk where he was both an Assistant Staff Officer and a Rifle Platoon Leader with the 1-509th Airborne Infantry Regiment or better known as “Geronimo”. His unit was the OPFOR for the Joint Readiness Training Center. 1LT Morris then PCS back to Ft. Benning where he serves as a Platoon Leader at the Infantry Schools One Station Unit Training (OSUT) on Sandhill. Where he works directly with Drill Sergeants to mentor and train Initial entry 11B soldiers.

In addition to being accepted into the OMAC Skillbridge Program, First Lieutenant Morris has hopes to participate in University of Chicago's Graduate Student At-Large (GSAL) program and the Master of Arts Program in the Humanities (MAPH) with concentration in cinema and media studies. With hopes to further pursue the Cinema and Media Studies PhD.


Alison Hoyt

Lieutenant Commander, US Navy, Skillbridge Intern, August 2022-December 2022

Lieutenant Commander Alison Hoyt has served in the United States Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps for nearly 20 years.  Working with operational commands ashore and afloat, she has served in seven countries on four continents, including three deployments. With a specialty in National Security Law, she has broad experience in international law, domestic policy, and military plans and strategy.  

In addition to her military service, Lieutenant Commander Hoyt is an avid animal lover, volunteering in shelters wherever she’s stationed, and is a small private business owner. 

She has a Bachelor’s degree (BA) in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from University of California at Santa Cruz, a Juris Doctor (JD) with a certificate in Environmental Law from Tulane Law School, and a Master of Laws (LLM) in International Law from University of San Diego. 


Chelsen Kincade-Jackson

Technical Sergeant (TSgt), US Air Force, Skillbridge Intern, August 2022-February 2023

TSgt Chelsen Kincade-Jackson served ten years active duty in the U.S. Air Force. He graduated from High School in 2012, after which he joined the Air Force with Travis AFB, CA being his first duty station. During his time there, he amassed a range of management, financial, and customer service skills. He spent over a year and a half of his career deployed in places like, Abu-Dhabi, Afghanistan, and did a two year short tour in South Korea. He was directly involved in the first short-range strike mission of the F-22 in combat operations in Afghanistan. 

Chelsen has been coined twice by the current Chief of Staff of the Air Force for recognition of meritorious service during a visit to Osan AFB, ROK and for his selection for the General’s sponsored leadership course at Hickam AFB, HI. He has also received the Air Force Achievement Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal. 

Chelsen earned his Bachelor’s in Business Administration while on active duty from the University of Arizona. He is currently working toward obtaining his Masters Degree In Business Administration from the same university and expected to complete in March 2023. He is currently exploring PhD programs in Chicago.


Eric Prosser

Major, US Air Force, Skillbridge Intern, August 2022-February 2023

Major Eric B. Prosser is an officer and pilot in the United States Air Force. He has served in numerous assignments, all over the world, leading people and teams to solve complex security problems on behalf of the United States government. Eric holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Wright State University and a Master of Arts in Intelligence Studies from American Military University.

A 2011 graduate of Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (JSUPT), Eric has gone on to fly in numerous manned and unmanned aircraft over his career. Eric is an experienced instructor and evaluator and has accumulated over 2500 flight hours, including over 1000 combat hours leading and planning missions over the skies of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

In addition to his successes as a pilot, Eric has been an accomplished leader and staff officer. He has an extensive background in strategy, logistics, air transport infrastructure and fielding new technology. Some highlights of Eric’s career are the fielding of new remote operation capabilities in support of US interests on the Korean peninsula, and the development and implementation of advanced international relations training for US delegates to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Eric has enjoyed using his passion, experience and education in foreign culture to extensively travel the world. He currently lives in Heinsberg, Germany and is in the process of relocating with his wife and son to begin a new life, post military, in Chicago, Illinois.


Raven Edgeworth-Smith

Petty Officer Second Class, US Navy, Skillbridge Intern, October 2022-April 2023

Petty Officer Raven Edgeworth-Smith has served in the United States Navy for over 12 years since graduating high school in Chicago, IL. She earned many logistical, supply and management occupational skills. Her first tour was Misawa Japan where she supported the US Navy's 7th fleet in ordering, managing, and allocating supplies and materials. 

Raven was part of the inaugural crew who commissioned the First In Class Aircraft Carrier, the USS Gerald R Ford. Her tasks included testing for operational readiness, including readiness of the ship's nuclear reactor and capabilities.

In addition to her work in supply and logistics, Raven served several years as a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, ensuring information, resources, and ongoing non-clinical support for victims of sexual assault.

She has a Bachelors Degree in Healthcare Administration from Saint Leo University, and is currently pursing her Graduate degree in Supply Chain Management from Liberty University. 


Robert Callahan

Captain, US Army, Skillbridge Intern, October 2022-December 2022

Captain Callahan is a Medical Service Corps officer in the US Army. He most recently commanded the Chicago Medical Recruiting Company. In that role, he led a team to raise awareness of the Army Medical Department and recruit healthcare professionals across the Midwest. In particular, his team partnered with OMAC on our Camouflage Career Fair and 2022 Black History Month Celebration. Previously, he served as an Aeromedical Evacuation Officer in Central America, the United States, and Afghanistan. 

He will be interning with the Institute of Politics, supporting the IOP's work to host more events of interest to the veteran and military-affiliated community. 

He has a bachelor's degree from Cornell University, a master's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a graduate certificate from the Uniformed Services University. He is currently enrolled in the University's Committee on International Relations, and he is also an International House Graduate Fellow. 


Antwine Williams-Smith

Colonel, US Army, Skillbridge Intern, January 2023-June 2023

COL Antwine Williams-Smith has served over twenty-five years in the U.S. Army as a career Active Guard Reserve (AGR) Officer. She started her career as an enlisted Soldier in the Quartermaster Corps and was later commissioned as an officer in the Military Intelligence (MI) Corps. She graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in December 1993 with a B.A. in History and earned an MBA with a concentration in Finance from DePaul University in May 2000.  She graduated from the Air War College in May 2019 with a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies.

She is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom where she served as the Brigade Intelligence Officer for the 32nd Transportation Group in theater from March 2003 to March 2004. She has also served with the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 100th Division (Training), the U.S. Army Cadet Command (ROTC), the Military Intelligence Readiness Command (MIRC), the 416th Theater Engineer Command (TEC) and with the Inspector General, Department of the Army. Her duty positions include: Assistant S2 Division Artillery (DIVARTY), MI Platoon Leader, MI Battalion Logistics Officer, Company Commander, Battalion Operations Officer, Battalion Executive Officer, Brigade Intelligence Officer, Deputy G2, Inspector General and Army Reserve Intelligence Support Center (ARISC) Commander. COL Williams-Smith currently serves as the Command Inspector General at the 63d Readiness Division in Mountain View, CA.  Her decorations include Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Parachutist Badge, and Global War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

COL Williams-Smith has been married for 25 years and has one son.


Chandler Lawrence

Senior Airmen, US Air Force, Skillbridge Intern, January 2023-June 2023

Senior Airmen Chandler Lawrence was raised in Chicago, Illinois. After graduation from high school in 2019, he enlisted into the U.S Air Force, seeking a career in the field of cyber defense operations.

Chandler is currently assigned to the 55th Cyberspace Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base Nebraska. He has a deployments to both the United Arab Emirates in 2020, and Saudi Arabia from 2021-2022 in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel, Operation Spartan Shield, and Operation Inherent Resolve.

Chandler has completed an associates degree in Information Systems and Technology from the Community College of the Air Force. He is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Cybersecurity at Bellevue University.

He is a member of the Intel Scholars Program, which awarded him an Intel STEM scholarship to further pursue his educational goals and further the advancement and increase of minority students in STEM fields. Chandler is the first OMAC Skillbridge Intern assigned to conduct his internship with FermiLab's VALOR Program in January 2023.


Gerardo Espinal Franco

1stLT, US Marine Corps, Skillbridge Intern, January 2023-July 2023

First Lieutenant (1stLt) Gerardo Espinal Franco was born in Cali, Colombia. He immigrated to Houston, Texas with his mother in 2000.

He completed his bachelor’s degree in public relations and philosophy from the University of Houston in 2014 and went on to earn a master’s in humanities from the University of Chicago in 2015.  He worked as a high school teacher at YES Prep Southeast in Houston for two years, where he taught World Geography, World History, and Rhetoric.

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2016, 1stLt Espinal applied to Officer Candidate School in 2017 and commissioned in the Marines in 2018.  He served in the Unites States Marine Corps as a Manpower Officer from 2018 to 2022.  In his first duty station in Okinawa, Japan, his work centered on crisis management during the COVID-19 pandemic and the reactivation and restructuring of logistical units.  After three years abroad, he was assigned to Marine Corps Installations Command East in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  Here, he served as Deputy Chief Administrative Officer overseeing managerial processes for 6 installations.

Through SkillBridge, 1stLt Espinal will intern as the Research Operations Manager for the Stone Center for Research on Wealth Inequality and Mobility at the Harris School of Public Policy. In this role, he hopes to leverage his experience in education and administration to pursue an impactful career in higher education and public policy.


Collette Foster

Captain, US Air Force, Skillbridge Intern, January 2023-June 2023

Captain Collette Foster has served as an Acquisition Officer in the Air Force for the past five and a half years. During her first assignment she worked on the “Next Air Force One” presidential aircraft at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio where she helped manage cost, schedule, and performance parameters. In her second assignment Captain Foster has managed the Alaska Radar System program which involves early warning detection of aircraft entering the United States territory. She is currently working on a program that keeps emergency divert airfields and refueling bases in the Pacific Ocean up and running. 

Collette enjoys spending time with her dog and fiancé exploring her current home in Anchorage, Alaska. She is also passionate about volunteering with Native Alaskan organizations and learning how the community can better support tribes. She enjoys coaching volleyball and still plays recreationally. 

Captain Foster is originally from El Paso, Texas. After high school she attended the United States Air Force Academy where she was recruited to play volleyball and eventually earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. A few years later, she went back to school and earned a Master of Science in Microbiology and Cell Science from the University of Florida. She hopes to gain research experience with the University of Chicago Trauma Center in preparation to attend medical school in her next step after her Air Force career. 


Daniel Bilko

Colonel, US Army, Skillbridge Intern, January 2023-July 2023

Colonel Bilko has served as a soldier for more than 30 years.  He enlisted as private in 1991, then earned his commission via Officer Candidates School in 1993.  Colonel Bilko branched Infantry, then later also gained functional area qualification as a strategic planner.  He has served in army, marine, joint, special operations, and interagency units, from the tactical through strategic level.  Colonel Bilko has extensive allied, coalition, and partner experience, with service on four continents, including tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He completed his undergraduate studies at George Washington University in Washington, DC, obtaining Bachelors of Arts degrees in Economics and Political Science.  He earned a Master of Arts in Operational Studies from Marine Corps University’s School of Advanced Warfighting.  In lieu of resident war college, Dan participated in the United States Army War College Senior Service Fellowship Program, where he studied at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  
 


Dra. Lee Yanessa Orta Garcia

Petty Officer Third Class, US Navy, Skillbridge Intern, February 2023-July 2023

Petty Officer Lee Yanessa Orta García has served in the United States Navy for over 4 years. Before joining the Navy, she earned her B.A. in Secondary Education- Social Science at the University of Puerto Rico and completed her MA and PhD in History, specializing in the History of America, at the Interamerican University in Puerto Rico.

After teaching education for 13 years, she enlisted in the Navy as a Quarter Master, specializing in navigation. She served onboard USS Port Royal CG-73 at Pearl Harbor, HI from January 2019 to November 2020, where she supported the ship in its undocking milestone and the ship’s light off assessment. She served onboard USS Preble DDG-88 from March 2020 to June 2020 for it’s 4th Fleet Deployment, where she earned her qualifications and supported the ship’s counter drug operations. She transferred to Assault Craft Unit 1, Coronado, CA in November 2020 and is now assigned to Maritime Prepositioning Force (MPF). She supports her command organizing and plotting charts used for training exercises and operations in California, Guam and Albania.

Petty Officer Orta Garcia is married and is a mother to a beautiful 1-year-old boy.


Dr. Alyssa Joiner

Captain, US Air Force, Skillbridge Intern, March 2023-August 2023

Captain Alyssa Joiner commissioned into the United States Air Force in 2019. She completed a one-year psychology residency program at Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB), San Antonio, TX. Post-residency, she served as a supervised psychologist in the Mental Health Clinic at Minot AFB, ND. Capt Joiner has provided psychotherapy services to active duty members and conducted a variety of psychological assessments for military specific evaluations and specialty careers. Capt Joiner served as the Mental Health Element Chief for eight months, which she managed a 25 member team and supervised five mental health technicians. She also served as the alternate Family Advocacy Officer for three months, managing over 100 cases related to child neglect and adult maltreatment. In addition, she served as the Volunteer Chair in the African American Heritage Council for one year.

Alyssa was born in Chicago, IL and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (2013) at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned a Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance (2016) and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Counseling Psychology (2020).

Alyssa has a passion for research in the areas of burnout, racial/ethnic health and mental health disparities, religion and spirituality, and prevention/intervention services. As an OMAC Skillbridge intern, Alyssa hopes to contribute to research at the University of Chicago Trauma Center and/ the Biological Science's Comprehensive Cancer Center.


Karla Guerrero Villareal

Airmen, US Navy, Skillbridge Intern, April 2023-October 2023

Airmen Karla Guerrero Villareal has served in the United States Navy for over  two years since graduating high school in Waycross, GA. She has earned a great deal of leadership, problem-solving skills, and teamwork while conducting flight operatons aboard the USS America in Sasebo Japan. 

Born in Mexico, Karla immigrated to the United States in 2016, and spent four years in a small town in Georgia with her mother and siblings. It was during her high school years where she learned of her passion for veterinary medicine. Working part-time at a local animal clinic, she developed numerous skills that aides in her current role in the Navy, and her goal of becoming a veterinarian. Karla is actively pursuing her bachelors in biology, and plans to apply to veterinary school in 2024.


Benjamin Steel

Senior Master Sergeant, US Air Force, Skillbridge Intern, April 2023-August 2023

Senior Master Sergeant Steel is a twenty-year career linguist in the U.S. Air Force. He enlisted in the Air Force right after High School and has served in various assignments, including at the Defense Language Institute, where he worked as a language instructor and program manager. Benjamin maintains professional proficiency in German, Hebrew, Yiddish, Urdu, Hindi, Pashto, and Punjabi. He has filled many leadership roles, including leading multiple language departments, managing training and development efforts, and supervising human resource programs. Sergeant Steel currently serves as his Squadron's Senior Enlisted Leader.

Benjamin was born in Germany and moved to Chicago when he was twelve. As a lifelong language learner and as an educator, Benjamin is intensely interested in how metacognition and self-efficacy impact adult language learners. He is also curious about how bilingualism affects adult language learners’ self-confidence and ability to take charge of their own language learning. He hopes to explore these interests further and help governmental, non-profit, and educational organizations improve language learning programs.

Benjamin has two Associate of Arts degrees from the Defense Language Institute (Hebrew and Urdu), a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from American Military University, a Master of Arts in Translation and Interpreting from the University of Illinois, and is finishing an Education Doctorate at the University of Illinois.


Riken Patel

Lieutenant, US Navy, Skillbridge Intern, April 2023-September 2023

Riken Patel is a Lieutenant and serves as a Supply Officer in the United States Navy. Riken commissioned through Officer Candidate School (OCS) and graduated in September 2018. Following OCS, he then went on to graduate from the Naval Supply Corps School in March 2019.

Riken’s first tour was on board the USS SEAWOLF (SSN 21). Here he was designated the Supply Department head and lead over 12 sailors through two overseas deployments. Through the two deployments and numerous missions, he was able to maintain at sea operations with zero lost mission days by optimizing an $8M budget. At the same time, he was able to manage $31M in inventory that included weapons, parts, food, and support for short notice repairs at sea. Following his tour on the USS SEAWOLF (SSN 21), Riken was given orders to become the Air Logistics Division Officer for Commander Task Force 53 in Manama, Bahrain. He currently supervises and manages over 65 Bahraini civilian employees and 20 Navy sailors to support various joint task force operations, both land and sea, within the Middle East.

Originally from Urbana, IL, Riken graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a BA in Educational Studies. In addition to being accepted into the OMAC Skillbridge Program, Riken has hopes to participate in the University of Chicago's Graduate Student At-Large (GSAL) program prior to working towards obtaining an MBA in the near future.


Aleasha Duggins

Staff Sergeant, US Air Force, Skillbridge Intern, May 2023-September 2023

Staff Sergeant Aleasha R. Duggins served five years as an active-duty non-commissioned officer in the United States Air Force. Staff Sergeant Duggins is originally from West Haven, Connecticut. She enlisted in the United States Air Force in 2017, she went on to graduate from the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine in 2018.

She started her career at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland as a Bioenvironmental Engineering Technician. During her time there, she served as the Occupational Health Element co-lead, the Special Surveillance program manager, and the Radiation Safety program manager providing occupational health and safety assessments for 120 work centers and more than 7000 personnel.  She also served as a member of the only Flight Line Protocol Office in the United States for two administrations supporting more than 43,000 distinguished visitors annually including the President, Foreign Dignitaries, the Vice President, the First Lady, Congressmen, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of State, presidential cabinet members, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and high-ranking military officials.

Staff Sergeant Duggins is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Applied Mathematics at Southern New Hampshire University. She graduated from the University of Maryland Global Campus with an Associate of Arts in Mathematics as well as the Community College of the Air Force with an Associate of Applied Science in Bioenvironmental Engineering Technology. Her goal is to get a Masters in Applied Physics and eventually a Ph.D. in Medical Physics to conduct proton therapy and other radiation treatment research.


Paul Nenoff

Hospital Corpsman Third Class Petty Officer, US Navy, Skillbridge Intern, June 2023-December 2023

Petty Officer Paul Nenoff has served in the United States Navy for over five years after joining straight from high school in 2017. He then graduated the Navy’s’ Hospital Corpsman Basic Skills course and Field Medical Training in 2018. Since then he has spent the last four years working at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command - Great Lakes in North Chicago. His time was spent working in direct patient care, health care administration/logistics, process improvement, and data collection. Throughout that time Petty Officer Paul Nenoff also gained valuable experience from other programs he was involved with such as infection control, safety representative, patient satisfaction representative, training officer, and supply officer. 

Paul is currently pursuing his Bachelors of Science in Health Care Management at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. His goal is to transfer to the University of Chicago in pursuit of a graduate degree in Public Health and Business Administration. During his internship Paul hopes to utilize his experience in the medical field to assist with research and treatment at UChicago Medicine.

He grew up in Plainfield, Illinois which is also where he currently lives with his wife and two dogs. He enjoys spending time with his family and is a volunteer coach for Plainfield’s high school rugby club in his free time. He is excited to begin his transition from military service and for the connections he hopes to make at the University of Chicago. 


Brian Bello

Hospital Corpsman Second Class Petty Officer, US Navy, Skillbridge Intern, June 2023-December 2023

Petty Officer Bello has served in the United States Navy for over 7 Years since graduating high school in 2015. He was raised in Rockford, Illinois and has always had an interest and passion for medicine.

Brian’s first duty station was Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego where he provided medical coverage, administered vaccines, performed blood draws and was in charge of medical documentation for Marine Corps recruits. He then served aboard the forward deployed destroyer USS Ross DDG-71 out of Rota, Spain. He provided healthcare and medical readiness for over 300 sailors aboard the ship in support of ballistic missile defense in the Mediterranean and Black sea. He is currently at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command - Great Lakes in North Chicago. During his time there he was the clinic administrator of general surgery clinic and worked at Cook County Trauma Center.  He is currently in charge of Primary Care, ensuring the care and readiness for Navy recruits.

Brian completed his associate’s degree at Central Texas College and is currently completing his B.S in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is also an EMT and is pursuing his Paramedic certification to broaden his scope of practice. His ultimate goal is to become a Physician Assistant.

Brian hopes to gain knowledge and learn from the brilliant minds at UChicago Medicine's Trauma Center.