Reflections: 20 Years of Sorensen Fellows

Damiana Andonova '16
2013 Sorensen Fellow
Multi-departmental Hospital for Active Treatment
Blageovgrad, Bulgaria

Read Damiana's 2013 Sorensen Fellow essay here.


Andonova credits the Sorensen Fellowship as one of the most formative experiences of  her Brandeis undergraduate education. The fellowship afforded her the opportunity to return to her native country after nearly a dozen years’ absence to work in an under-resourced polyclinic.

tovapaintingWorking with obstetricians and witnessing medical care in her native country fueled Damiana’s interest in medicine and her impatience to give back to her homeland. In addition to her daily work at the polyclinic, Damiana also worked with hospital executives to supply medical supply donations, and met with the Chief of Pediatrics at the Bulgarian Ministry of Health to discuss the state of women’s and pediatric health.

"The Sorensen Fellowship was trajectory-setting…I came to realize how inequitable access to care truly is, and witnessing discrimination toward the Roma left me with an even strong personal desire to treat every patient equitably. What I saw taught me to never lose touch of humanism in healthcare.  I also learned that the problems in healthcare cannot be fixed by a single clinician…I keep coming back to the idea of wanting to equalize the birth experience for women and children, to amplify access to quality care for patients, and to give every baby an equal welcome. Undoubtedly, I’ll be forever appreciative of the lessons this fellowship afforded me."

Andonova later organized a documentary premiere at Brandeis University’s Deis-Impact Festival, bringing together experts in different disciplines to raise awareness about discrimination against the Roma in Eastern Europe. Following this, she completed a fellowship in Denmark’s Rigshospitalet, and later wrote about bedside manner and humanism in medicine at Stanford Medicine’s Program for Bedside Medicine.

Following graduation, Andonova worked at a healthcare consultancy prior to joining the strategic planning team at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.  She is currently spearheading a community health education project developing patient education materials and securing personal health supplies for families in need in the Kresna George of Bulgaria. In the horizon, she hopes to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a physician-writer.