25th Schermerhorn Awards celebrate spirit of volunteerism
By Lin Lofley
The winners of the 2012 Schermerhorn Scholarship Award are all students in the UT Southwestern School of Health Professions, and all have made their mark at the medical center and Dallas.
Jenna Buckman in Physical Therapy, Kristin Martin in Radiation Therapy, and Erin Tenney in Physician Assistant Studies were honored recently for academic excellence, leadership, and volunteer work.
The late Dr. John Schermerhorn, for whom the award is named, served as Dean of the School of Health Professions – then known as the UT Southwestern School of Allied Health Sciences – from 1971 to 1986. This year’s awards marked the 25th year that they have been bestowed on outstanding students in the school that Dr. Schermerhorn long led.
Each year, three outstanding students are selected to receive the award. Each student receives $500 and an arrangement of flowers, and has his or her name engraved on a plaque that hangs in the School of Health Professions.
A graduate of Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, Ms. Buckman – now 24 – is a graduate of Furman University whose prowess in chemistry caused Georgia Tech to recruit her to its doctoral program. While working as a chemist at Georgia Tech, she spent her weekends volunteering with physical therapists in a hippotherapy program for people with a variety of disabilities.
Hippotherapy is a program of therapeutic riding that has proved to be helpful to almost everyone involved. The movement of the horse is an effec tive treatment tool. “The horse supplies the magic,” said Dr. Patricia Smith, Chair of Physical Therapy, “and therapists and volunteers work tirelessly to acquire the results. “
"Jenna started with a love for hippotherapy, and from that grew a love for the field of physical therapy.”
As with all three of the students who were recognized, Ms. Buckman has made extra-curricular activity an integral part of her educational career. In addition to working as a full-time student and volunteering in North Texas physical therapy programs, she had coordinated fundraising and volunteer participation for nonprofit organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and for upcoming medical mission trips.
Ms. Martin, 28, who grew up in Flower Mound and graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, has made an impact on the Radiation Therapy Program since virtually day one.
In the first semester, when students are introduced to the basics of radiation therapy such as linear accelerator function, medical imaging, and patient care, she distinguished herself in the labora tory and in the clinic.
“She’s always willing to try the exercises and to complete them correctly,” said Marissa Johnson, Assistant Professor of Health Care Sciences. “If she has a problem, she is quick to ask questions, receive clarification, and attempt the exercise again.”
Ms. Martin’s determination emerged partly from personal experience. She watched as her husband, Brandon, was treated with radiation therapy at UT Southwestern. That experience led her to consider changing from a career as a high school teacher to a student of radiation therapy at the School of Health Professions.
“After seeing her husband treated successfully with radiation for a benign condition, she is determined to become a radiation therapist,” Ms. Johnson wrote in a letter of nomination. “She was a successful teacher, and now she has chosen to pursue a new career.”
Ms. Martin’s primary extra-curricular focus is as a member of Colleges Against Cancer (CAC), a nationwide collaboration of students, faculty, and staff dedicated to eliminating cancer. CAC works to implement the programs and mission of the American Cancer Society.
A product of Richardson, Ms. Tenney was recruited to UT Southwestern, and that wasn’t the first time she had experienced the sensation of being recruited.
An All-American soccer player at Rice University, she won an NCAA Post-Graduate Scholarship and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
“In addition to her academic accomplishments, Ms. Tenney is one of the most recognized national scholar-athletes of her applicant-year peer group,” wrote Dr. P. Eugene Jones, Chairman of Physician Assistant Studies. “Her collegiate and professional accomplishments in soccer were outstanding by all measures, and the leadership skills she acquired as an athlete fueled her success in the classroom and in community service involvement.”
Ms. Tenney, 24, continues to be active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. While in school at Rice, she coordinated student-athlete volunteers at Houston’s Texas Children’s Hospital and was codirector of the Student Athlete Community Service Subcommittee.
Now back in the Dallas area, she has become involved in the Physician Assistant Program’s Community Service Student Committee, which has led to her participation in volunteer service at the Union Gospel Mission Homeless Shelter. She is also a student member of the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants.
Dr. Smith holds the Doris E. Porter Professorship in Physical Therapy.