Dr. Jack O’Brien: Vanatta, Hesser, Schmalstieg Excellence in Tutoring Award

By Patrick Wascovich

Dr. Jack O’Brien
Dr. Jack O’Brien

The 800-meter run is largely accepted as one of the most demanding events in track and field, relying on both speed and endurance from the participant. At Texas Christian University, Jack O’Brien specialized and excelled in the grueling run.

By the time he graduated, the future Dr. O’Brien was an All-Mountain West Conference performer and had been recognized as Academic All-District and Academic third-team All-American. At the time of his 2012 graduation, he also had received the Dutch Meyer Male Scholar Athlete of the Year Award, which is the highest academic honor a TCU student-athlete can get.

Because of this dedication to excellence and to helping others, Dr. O’Brian, who will graduate in June from UT Southwestern Medical School before continuing his residency at UT Southwestern, has been recognized with the 2017 Vanatta, Hesser, Schmalstieg Excellence in Tutoring Award.

Carol Wortham, Student Academic Support Services Manager, said, “Jack’s skill set is extraordinary, and his dedication to helping fellow students never waned from his MS2 year as a physiology tutor. He’s been particularly helpful in our transition to the new curriculum these past two years, and student feedback confirms that Jack’s love for teaching is appreciated at every session.”

Dr. O’Brien, in turn, said his tutoring efforts are a way to pay back in small measure the help he has received at UT Southwestern. “Dr. Dorothy Sendelbach [Professor of Pediatrics who serves as Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education] has been my clinical mentor through the UT Southwestern Colleges. In the Colleges system, as a first- and second-year Medical Student, I was fortunate to have this outstanding clinical mentor and great fourth-year Medical Student peer mentors. Now, during my fourth year of Medical School, I’m able to mentor and teach other first- and second-year students the same things students taught me when I was a first-year.”

A classmate steered Dr. O’Brien into this satisfying track. “He was tutoring biochemistry and thought I should join him in tutoring physiology, so I sent Ms. Wortham an email asking to tutor medical physiology,” he said. “I ended up tutoring for the entire course and found that I really loved teaching. After that, during my research fellowship here at UT Southwestern and during my fourth year of Medical School, I continued to tutor various subjects, including hematology, cardiology, pulmonology, as well as participating in one-on-one tutoring for other subjects through the Office of Medical Education. In the future, I plan to continue to teach my peers and be both a lifelong learner and educator.”

Dr. O’Brien, who still runs regularly, closed his TCU career earning All-Mountain West Conference honors in the men’s 800 meters after placing third overall at the 2012 MWC Championships. He was a two-time NCAA Championship quarterfinal participant and multiple Academic All-Mountain West selection. The College Sports Information Directors of America recognized him with All-District honors, and the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association made the Capital One Academic All-America selection.