How do you measure student success?
One way is through the completion of a hard-earned degree that itself represents hundreds of hours of study, research and clinical rotations. Multiply that accomplishment by more than 1,000. That’s the number of UT Health San Antonio students who will graduate this coming weekend and over the summer to begin applying their knowledge and training to professional practice and advanced studies.
You can also assess the direct impacts on human health through the discovery of new treatments and cures stemming from rigorous scientific research and the daily care administered by practitioners within nursing, medicine, dentistry and a broad range of specialty health professions. And, you can quantify the cumulative reach of the growing presence of health care expertise within the local community and far beyond, with more than 41,000 total UT Health San Antonio graduates produced as of this spring and summer commencement cycles.
Not to be lost in these overarching measures of success are the personal stories of individual students and what motivated them to dedicate time and resources to pursue professions that make others’ lives better. Among the many tales of hard work are the soon-to-be graduates of UT Health San Antonio’s School of Health Professions, School of Dentistry, Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences featured below.
Graduating physical therapy student excited by the opportunity to help others live the lives they love
“The human body’s capacity to move and interact with its environment is a cornerstone of how we view life and experience life. I feel very thankful to be in a health care profession where I can help people get back to the life they want to live.” A former professional ballet dancer, Kevin Hamilton endured injuries that prompted him to consider a career change focused on movement from an entirely different perspective. “From the sports medicine side of things it’s about returning back to your full function — running faster, throwing farther and kicking harder. But it’s also pretty significant to have someone be able to safely ambulate, prevent falls and improve function to get to where they need to be.”
“I’ve lived in many different places and have noticed a similar trend — access to oral care is problematic. It affects a person’s quality of life, yet at most times it continues to be neglected.” As part of an interprofessional team of dental, medical and nursing students and faculty, Alaa Diab helped coordinate dental care for patients. She and her classmates conducted comprehensive dental exams, referred patients who needed urgent care to affordable clinics and scheduled non-urgent patients for treatment on the clinic’s mission days. “Patients appreciate that you are taking the time to explain how to care for their oral health. Communication, clarity and building trust are crucial. Everyone deserves care, especially health care. We must remember to do good, do no harm and treat everyone fairly.”
“How you engage with patients is essential.” As a medical school student, Roshni Ray’s involvement with the university’s Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics provided an outlet for her interest in the delivery of care centered on compassion and justice. The value of sitting with and listening to patients was underscored for Ray on her rotations during COVID, which sharpened her focus on how to offer care with hope and kindness. “For so many patients, we had to become their primary comforter when family members weren’t allowed to be present. That expands how you see your role.”
Growing up in an immigrant family presented many challenges for Fernando Anaya-Vasquez, including financial strains, frequent moves, cultural barriers and at times, isolation. The son of El Salvadoran immigrants, Anaya-Vasquez says his own struggles during high school fueled his interest in behavioral health, and he sees many opportunities in the behavioral health field to address: the stigma of mental health, especially in the Latino community, where the population is affected by a lack of accessible resources, mental health education and vast disparities in access to care. “I want to be a part of the solution where we raise awareness for the Latino community and guide our communities to have a more genuine understanding of mental health that will hopefully begin dismantling the stigma.”
“I love physics because it helps us understand everything; from how electronics work, to how our lungs and brain and bodies function, to why we have earthquakes and even the makeup of our solar system.” While at UT Health San Antonio, Victoria Bry’s research focused on a technique called surface guided imaging, a technology that uses light to create motion maps of the external surface of a patient’s body. “It is advantageous because it does not require additional imaging radiation. This system provides us with sub-millimeter accuracy about the positioning of the patient’s surface that we have not had in the past, allowing us to deliver treatments more confidently.”