Dr. Jo Anna Leuck: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award

Growing up with a father in the military, Dr. Jo Anna Leuck moved often. She had to decide early how she would respond to life's challenges.

"I could either wait for something to happen to me, like waiting for people to approach me at new schools to be friends, or I could put myself out there, talk to people and just get involved.

"I chose the latter," she said.

That attitude, combined with Dr. Leuck's academic intelligence, turned her into a strong leader in and out of the classroom, a confident physician in the emergency room and winner of the 2005 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award.                                                                               

Dr. Jo Anna Leuck

"Jo Anna is such an all-around accomplished student. Her leadership and personal skills spill over to her abilities as a physician," said Dr. Joseph Martinez, assistant professor of surgery and director of the emergency medicine clerkship program.

Dr. Leuck thrives on taking care of people and making a difference in their lives.

"I truly believe that you make changes if you just try. People are surprised at what a little initiative can accomplish."

Dr. Leuck first realized she wanted to be a doctor during a trip to Mexico when she was 17 years old.

"I was there with a group of doctors to take care of the patients' children. I was so fascinated with the work the doctors were doing and the gratitude the patients had. I couldn't get over how thankful they were for the care. I have always liked science and that experience really pointed me in the direction of a career in medicine."

Dr. Leuck credits a return to Mexico during spring break 2002 with reinforcing her love of medicine.

"We only had a week off, and I used it to go to Juarez to provide medical care. I had been worrying so much about studying and grades, that being able to actually help patients, to actually be a doctor, reminded me of why I was in medical school and the trip motivated me to keep going."

Dr. Leuck's inner drive to help others prompted her to run for one of the two positions of president for her class in 2002, a position she still holds today.

"I really enjoy it because it makes me feel like part of the class. I also love being a connection between my fellow students and the administration."

Winning the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Award entitles Dr. Leuck to a one-year membership to the organization, which comes with a one-year subscription to Academic Emergency Medicine journal.

Dr. Leuck graduated summa cum laude from Texas Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts in biology prior to entering UT Southwestern Medical School. Following June graduation she and her husband, John, will move to Charlotte, N.C., where she will begin her residency in emergency medicine at Carolinas Medical Center.