UT Health San Antonio’s new Presidential Ambassador Scholars for 2020 were officially recognized by President William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, at a small luncheon on Oct. 19 in the Academic and Administration Building. Typically held in April with a reception and guest speakers, this year’s meeting was postponed and scaled down due to COVID-19 safety precautions.
Though smaller than years past, Dr. Henrich still presented each student with their medals and recognized their achievements.
“This recognition is a well-deserved honor,” Dr. Henrich said. “It is apparent that your efforts have been noticed by the deans who have chosen you for this significant award. You have been selected because you are excellent student leaders, and we are confident that you will be outstanding representatives of your school and UT Health San Antonio.”
The five scholars, one from each school in the university, are: John-Stephane Kouam, Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine; Erica Osta, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Shanae Rhodes, School of Nursing; Jennifer Sanchez, School of Health Professions; and Katharina Tosti, School of Dentistry.
Each ambassador is awarded a $5,000 scholarship. The ambassadors represent the student body and the university at numerous events throughout the year.
Kouam is a second-year medical student who graduated from Texas A&M University with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences. He now serves as vice president of the Student National Medical Association chapter, an organization committed to advocating for underrepresented students in medicine and the needs of underserved communities.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my school and collaborate with other campus leaders in order to help build a better present and future for our UT Health San Antonio campus,” he said.
Osta, from the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is training as a dual MD/PhD student in the South Texas Medical Scientist Training Program at UT Health San Antonio. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Texas State University. She currently works in the laboratory of Tyler Curiel, MD, MPH, in the Department of Medicine. Osta has interned with the Institute for Health Promotion Research and volunteered at the Mays Cancer Center, inspiring her to pursue research in tumor immunology.
Rhodes, from the School of Nursing, is currently a registered nurse who received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from UT Health San Antonio, where she also received the Florence Nightingale Award. She is now pursuing a PhD in nursing science, focusing her research on minority populations. She aspires to develop community-based interventions that promote health and wellness in San Antonio’s diabetic community.
Sanchez, from the School of Health Professions, graduated summa cum laude from Angelo State University with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. She is now a second-year occupational therapy student and serves as president for the OTD Class of 2022, vice chair for the School of Health Professions’ Presidents Council, and a delegate for the Student Legacy Council.
“Becoming a Presidential Ambassador Scholar for the School of Health Professions has been one the greatest blessings since beginning my occupational therapy career,” she said.
Tosti, from the School of Dentistry, earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Miami. Now a fourth-year dental student, she has served two years as president of her class and vice president of the Periodontal and Implant Organization. Tosti is a student leader for the refugee clinic, where she translates French to English for patients seeking medical and dental care. She is also an active volunteer for the Christian Medical and Dental Association, where she provides underserved communities with dental treatment.