Physician Assistant student honored with MLK Scholarship
By Lin Lofley
Damaris Rosado, a second-year student in the UT Southwestern School of Health Professions, has received the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship for Community Service, in recognition of volunteer efforts that reflect the bright legacy of the slain civil rights leader.
Ms. Rosado, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in biological science from UT El Paso, plans a career working with underserved populations such as those in her hometown. But she’s not waiting until she completes her education.
As a child, Ms. Rosado went with her mother to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless in El Paso. She continued volunteering through her college years and in just two years at the medical center has participated in medical missions at home, in Dallas, and in Guatemala.
She and fellow finalists Lauren Tyra, a third-year student in the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and Jeffrey Okonye, a second-year student at UT Southwestern Medical School, were honored Jan. 8 at the annual campus celebration of Dr. King’s life.
Dr. Gary H. Gibbons, Director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), provided the keynote remarks.
“I want to go where I can make a difference,” said Ms. Rosado, who recently was named one of the 40 recipients across the nation of the 23rd annual Tylenol Future Care Scholarship. She believed that meant returning to El Paso, where needs are great, “but my rotations at Parkland Memorial Hospital have already taught me that there are many such places.”
A student in the Physician Assistant Studies program, Ms. Rosado has augmented her medical mission work by serving as UT Southwestern’s student representative to the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants and by raising funds to bring Rachel’s Challenge, an anti-bullying campaign, to a Dallas high school.
Ms. Tyra earned undergraduate degrees in biology and German at the University of North Texas and now works in the laboratory of Dr. Helmut Kramer, Professor of Neuroscience and Cell Biology.
On campus, Ms. Tyra has served on the committee for the Mentoring Series for Female Students and Post-Doctoral Fellows, which is sponsored by the Women in Science and Medicine Advisory Committee (WISMAC) and the Office of Women’s Careers. She also has taken a lead role in the Lean In on Campus program, an initiative by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, designed to help provide women peer mentoring groups to support their careers.
Committed to the promotion of diversity in middle school science education, Ms. Tyra and a classmate have worked to partner graduate students from UT Southwestern with middle school students at Uplift Williams Preparatory.
Mr. Okonye, who earned his undergraduate degree in neuroscience at UT Dallas, has engaged in a variety of outreach programs to Dallas County’s African-American community. He has focused his volunteer efforts on reducing health disparities among minority populations and on mentoring youth.
The Houston native established a vaccine program at Dallas’ Center of Hope shelter and has worked to convey to youth the message that there are people of color engaged in the field of medicine. He also has taken an active role in the United to Serve health fair. Students, faculty members, staff, alumni, and local physicians have transformed the annual fair into one of UT Southwestern’s largest volunteer outreach programs.
Check out these stories for more coverage of MLK:National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Director talks about diversity and the future of science in challenging times