MLK Scholarship Award recognizes community-driven medical students

By Lin Lofley

Emily Smitherman, a fourth-year medical student from Clear Lake, accepted the 2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship for Community Service at the annual event on campus celebrating the life of the late civil rights leader.

2012 MLK Scholarship
2012 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship for Community Service winner Emily Smitherman (right) shares center stage with finalists (from left) Mark Munns and twin sisters Eunice and Elaine Odiase.

“It’s unbelievably humbling to be spoken of in the same sentence with Dr. King,” said Ms. Smitherman, who is planning a career in pediatrics after graduation. “It’s important to give back, I think; to follow his exhortation that we ‘make a career of humanity.’”

An Honors College graduate of Louisiana State University, where she first took part in community events, Ms. Smitherman came to UT Southwestern and became actively involved in the United to Serve health fair, held annually at Rusk Middle School, which is nearby the medical center. She has also played a pivotal role in FIT (Families in Training) for Health, an Irving-based program designed to combat childhood obesity.

Finalists for the award were Mark Munns, fourth-year medical student from Georgetown, a graduate of Texas Christian University, and twin second-year medical students Elaine and Eunice Odiase of Murphy, both graduates of UT Dallas.

Mr. Munns has been instrumental in service to The Monday Clinic, a medical student-run free clinic supported UT Southwestern faculty, Dallas area physicians and North Dallas Shared Ministries.

The Odiases have are deeply involved in the children’s ministry at Christian Center Church of Farmers Branch and a variety of other community service projects.

Dr. Eduardo J. Sanchez, vice president and chief medical officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, and 1988 graduate of UT Southwestern, presented the remarks to honor the students for their passion to be involved in the community.

Entertainment was provided by the Garland Chamber Music Singers, of Garland High School.