Medical Student Affairs (MSA)

Meet the MSA Team:

Jay Behel, Ph.D. (Associate Dean, Medical Student Affairs) is a clinical health psychologist and an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. As associate dean, he has strategic oversight of the three pillars in Medical Student Affairs: Advising, Academic Support, and Professional Development. He works directly with each student as they prepare to apply for residency, and he collaborates on institutional initiatives related to wellness and the learning environment. Dr. Behel is a national leader in bringing restorative justice practices to academic medicine. Dr. Behel is course director for the M1 elective Humanities in Medicine. He also is a course director for programs in the Center for Innovative & Lifelong Learning. He is education lead for Affirm: The Rush Center for Gender, Sexuality & Reproductive Health. Dr. Behel’s clinical practice focuses on psychological adjustment to chronic illness and acquired disability, and he directs the section of Geriatric & Rehabilitation Psychology. Dr. Behel is a consulting editor of The Journal of Clinical Psychology. Dr. Behel completed his B.A. in Psychology and English at Vanderbilt University, graduate training in Clinical Psychology at Auburn University, and his Health Psychology residency and Rehabilitation Psychology fellowship at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Behel lives in the suburbs with his husband, two children, and three cats. Outside of work, his passions include music, reading, vegan cooking, and travel.


Laurel Cherian, MD, MS, (Assistant Dean of Advising) is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences. Cherian has undergraduate degrees in Biology and English Literature from The University Michigan and received her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She completed neurology residency at the University of Chicago and a vascular neurology fellowship at Rush University Medical Center. In addition to her clinical practice, she has completed a Master of Science degree in clinical research and is supported by NIH funding, exploring the role of nutrition on post-stroke outcomes, including cognition, mental health, and neuropathology, with work that has been published in a variety of scientific journals and featured in media coverage including NPR, The Wall Street Journal, ABC news, Good Morning America, and The Atlantic. Dr. Cherian is on the Executive Board for the Illinois State Neurological Society and has also served as the Vascular Neurology Fellowship Director. She is the Assistant Dean of Advising for Rush Medical College, overseeing Rush’s 6 advising communities, including the peer and faculty advising programs, and works closely with the Medical Student Affairs team to optimally support Rush Medical students on their journey to becoming physicians.


Christine Corral, Ph.D. presently serves as the inaugural Director of Student Professional Development at Rush Medical College. In this role, she has helped establish the official department of Medical Student Affairs which includes academic support, academic advising and professional development. She oversees the career and professional development programming for all medical students offering a signature series of programs for each class year. She directs the Careers in Medicine elective and manages the careers in medicine specialty choice program including 19 student interest groups.  Dr. Corral oversees the residency application process for graduating students including an interview preparation course. She collaborates closely with the university Alumni Relations team and has developed the Specialty Champions and Residency Champions programs to support students through the residency application and interview process. In addition, Dr. Corral serves on the advisory board for the university Center for Academic Excellence and the Rush Medical College Early Intervention Committee.  Dr. Corral’s academic credentials include completion of a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration with a minor in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University Chicago and a M.Ed. degree in College Student Personnel with a concentration in Higher Education Administration also from Loyola University Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Mass Communications from Saint Xavier University. Her research interests include performance evaluation and career advancement. She has traveled, taught and studied in many countries and is fluent in Spanish.​


Dijana Demirovic, M.Ed., is a Manager of Student Support Services with the Medical Student Affairs team. In her role, Ms. Demirovic develops, manages, and oversees all academic support services for Rush medical students. She provides both individual and group support to assist students in their transition to medical school and enhance their learning experience throughout their time at Rush. In her role, she also oversees the Peer and Resident Education Programs, and is developing a graduate internship program for the Medical Student Affairs team. Additionally, Ms. Demirovic oversees Step 1 programming for M2 students. In building holistic programming to support students’ academic success, Demirovic closely collaborates with faculty, course directors, OIME staff and leadership, University partners, and serves on the Early Intervention Committee. Demirovic received her Master of Education with a concentration in Counseling from Loyola University Chicago. Outside of work, her interests include: yoga, dance, music and concerts, reading, nature, and travel.


Victoria Hernandez, BS, is the Medical Student Affairs Education Coordinator. Hernandez has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Dominican University and draws upon her previous healthcare work experience in effectively executing the MSA’s vision and mission. Throughout the year, she collaborates with other departments and outside organizations to coordinate key events such as, the RMC Annual Awards Ceremony. She manages the logistics and details for many special programs that include, but are not limited to, the Advising Program, Careers in Medicine, Academic Support and MATCH week. Hernandez also assists with the intake of applications for the Student Professional Development Conference Funding Program and any student travel related inquiries. Additionally, she collects and tracks data to produce monthly analytics on all MSA programming.