By Kate Hunger
Five School of Health Professions students have been selected to receive Student Life Awards from the UT Health San Antonio Student Government Association.
The students nominated for the awards have exceeded their programs’ curricular requirements, said David L. Henzi, Ed.D., associate dean for academic and student affairs.
“They have identified opportunities to excel in research, leadership, and community service — even when navigating the challenges of the global pandemic,” he said. “The School of Health Professions and UT Health San Antonio are proud of their exceptional efforts.”
Learn more about the Student Life Award winners
Professional Student Leadership Award — Jennifer Sanchez is a second-year student in the occupational therapy (OT) doctoral degree program. She serves as president of her class, OT state student representative of the Texas Occupational Therapy Association, and vice-chair for the SHP Student Presidents Council. She was drawn to OT after observing the impact it had on her brother following his spinal cord injury.
“It was then when a passion for OT began because I knew that I wanted to have a career that allowed me to enable clients and their families to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent — or live better with — injury, illness or disability,” she said.
Clinical Excellence Award — Jelena Lara, a second-year respiratory care master’s student, was drawn to the profession because of its strong focus and specialization in the cardiopulmonary system.
“I enjoy having the knowledge and expertise to care and advocate for patients within our scope of practice,” she said. “I plan to be one of the best all-around respiratory therapists I can be. I really find the science behind respiratory care interesting in all fields, particularly when working with neonatal/pediatric populations and burn patients.”
Student Community Service Award — Madeline Cortez, a first-year medical laboratory sciences master’s student. She is acting volunteer chair for the Medical Laboratory Sciences Student Association (MLSSA) and has served as a virtual judge for area science fairs. She is a mentor for the joint UT Health San Antonio-Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Med High School program that introduces students to different pathways toward biomedical research, medical professions, and public health jobs.
“As a future MLS, I look forward to being a critical part of the diagnostic health care team and directly contributing to patients' wellbeing,” she said.
Student Research Award — Sharon Chang is a second-year, speech-language pathology student. She has worked as a research assistant in the lab of speech-language pathology Assistant Professor Rocío Norman, Ph.D., CCC–SLP, whose research explores cognitive-communication disorders in the population of mild traumatic brain injury/concussion. Chang also is involved in a qualitative project to study the experiences of individuals living with mild traumatic brain injury, and she collaborated on a project to explore motor speech disorders in individuals with chromosome 18-deletion syndrome.
“Being involved in research has been an incredible opportunity to expand my knowledge about this field, collaborate closely with my program faculty, as well as foster strong leadership and time management skills,” she said.
University Student Leadership Award — Lauren Capicio, a second-year, speech-language pathology student, represents her cohort on the SHP Student Presidents Council. She is president of her class, secretary for the university’s chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and has represented the program as a mentee in the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Association Leadership Academy.
“I really enjoy the idea of being able to help people maximize their communicative abilities to be an active participant in their lives,” she said, adding that she hopes to work in an ear, nose, and throat clinic or in-patient hospital setting after graduation.
The awards will be presented in a virtual ceremony hosted by the SGA executive board on April 22.