UT Health San Antonio’s new Presidential Ambassador Scholars for 2021 were officially recognized by President William L. Henrich, MD, MACP, at a small luncheon on May 14 in the Academic and Administration Building. Typically held with a reception and guest speakers, this year’s meeting was scaled down due to continuing COVID-19 safety precautions.
Dr. Henrich 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: Kelsey Kohler, Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine; Ashley Braddom, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences; Katherine Cermin, BSN, RN, School of Nursing; Savannah “Nemo” Muñoz, School of Health Professions; and Kristi Morris, 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.
Kohler is a second-year medical student and a San Antonio native. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Trinity University. While an undergraduate, Kohler participated in both virology and biochemistry research. She has taken on peer mentorship as a medical student by applying to be a Veritas Peer Adviser, and has completed the inaugural Diversity Dialogues program run by the Office for Inclusion and Diversity. Kohler is also a published author in the Journal of Bioinorganic Chemistry.
Braddom is a third-year student in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences program in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She earned her undergraduate degree in molecular genetics at The Ohio State University, where she found her passion for studying the development of skin cancer as a Pelotonia Undergraduate Fellow. She developed an interest in infectious diseases while studying the impact of HIV during a study abroad program in Tanzania. Currently, Braddom studies gene regulation in the parasite responsible for malaria in the laboratory of Dr. Evelien Bunnik. To date, Braddom has one first-author publication and a total of four publications to her credit.
Cermin, from the School of Nursing, was born and raised in San Antonio. She earned a bachelor’s in nursing from The University of Texas at Arlington, as well as bachelor’s in biology from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She is a third-year student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctorate of Nursing Practice program, and part of the School of Nursing’s first graduating class for that program. Cermin sought out a career in nursing because she believes nurses see people, not disease, and even when they have nothing left to give, they find a way to give more. And she exemplifies giving more, as a mother of three who still finds time to volunteer at numerous nonprofit organizations that support veterans and their families.
Muñoz is a second-year student in the Medical Laboratory Sciences (MLS) division of the School of Health Professions. He is the first MLS student in over 20 years to be chosen as a Presidential Ambassador Scholar.
“It was such an incredible honor to even be considered for the position,” Muñoz said of his selection. “I cannot express how grateful I am to have been given this amazing opportunity. I am a first-generation college student. It hasn’t been easy to get here, but it was well worth the journey, and I hope I am making my family proud.”
Muñoz is also class vice president and a member of the School of Health Professions Presidents Council, and volunteers in several class and community programs, both on and off campus.
Morris, a fourth-year student in the School of Dentistry, is a native Texan from the Houston area. She attended The University of Texas at Austin, where she pursued a degree in public health. As she continued her undergraduate health studies, she realized that oral health was a commonly overlooked aspect of health care and decided to pursue dentistry. She participates in the Teaching Honors Program, where she tutors dental students in didactic and pre-clinical exercises. In addition, she is a member of the local American Student Dental Association and serves as the mentorship chair of the San Antonio Student National Dental Association chapter.