Four students of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health have been awarded the 2018 Excellence in Public Health Award.
The award, given by the United States Public Health Service, is presented to medical students who are involved in public health issues in their communities and who increase awareness of the U.S. Public Health Service’s mission to protect, promote and advance the health and safety of the nation.
This year, students Dr. Camille Spears, Dr. Kathryn Mackenzie DuPont (formerly Hicks), Ms. Alissa Chen, and Dr. Stephanie Mokashi received the award. Each graduated this spring with degrees in medicine and public health (MD/MPH), except for Ms. Chen, who graduates in August. The School of Public Health now has seven medical school partners for this program in six major cities across Texas, with the newest program set to enroll its first students in spring 2019 with The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine in Brownsville. A list of MD/MPH program partners is available on our dual degrees web page.
Dr. Spears attended the San Antonio campus to earn her MPH, and completed her MD at the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. As a student, she worked to build San Antonio’s first free LGBTQ-friendly primary care clinic, and spearheaded the creation of The San Antonio Safe Provider Directory, a list of openly LGBTQ-friendly health providers, and Gender Minority Health 101, an introductory course on providing complete and compassionate care to gender minority patients.
After completing her residency in internal medicine, Dr. Spears hopes to secure an infectious disease fellowship and become a primary care provider and inpatient hospital provider for people living with HIV, and to develop community programs and interventions that benefit the populations she serves as a physician.
Dr. Dupont attended the School of Public Health campus in Houston to earn her MPH degree and graduated with her MD at Baylor College of Medicine. Her focus was on global health and epidemiology. As a student, DuPont helped organize and execute a hands-only CPR training event for thousands of participants at 43 sites across Texas, and identify new risk factors for pediatric tuberculosis infection in sub-Saharan Africa.
Currently, Dr. DuPont is a first-year pediatrics resident at the University of California, San Francisco, and plans to pursue a career in academic pediatric emergency medicine and global health.
Ms. Chen is an MPH student at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston graduating in August and attends the John P. and Catherine G. McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, working towards her MD degree. As an MPH student, she focused on quality measures in healthcare. Her work on the accessibility of primary care physicians and walk-in clinics, patient satisfaction in academic hospitals and hospital pay for performance programs have been shared in prominent health care management journals and at industry conferences.
After graduating from medical school, Ms. Chen plans to specialize in internal medicine. She hopes to teach at a medical school while practicing primary care, and working to improve the quality of care in clinics and preventative medicine.
Dr. Mokashi earned her MPH from UTHealth School of Public Health in Dallas, focusing on epidemiology and data analysis, and her MD at UT Southwestern Medical School. During her second year of medical school, she managed operations for the Monday Clinic, a student-run clinic that provides free healthcare to underserved and uninsured communities in Dallas. While working there, she led initiatives to improve hand hygiene, and helped establish mental health screening at the clinic. She has been awarded the North Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians Award for Outstanding Medical Student in Psychiatry for her efforts to improve mental health access.
Currently, Dr. Mokashi is a first-year psychiatry resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Harvard Medical Center in Boston. She hopes to work as a psychiatry provider in the public sector and develop programs that connect people with severe mental illness to social services in the community.
USPHS medical officers present the honor to awards recipients in person. Dr. Spears received her award at the UTHealth San Antonio Long School of Medicine senior awards ceremony on March 22. Dr. DuPont received her award at the Baylor College of Medicine Military Commissioning ceremony at the medical school’s graduation on May 29. Ms. Chen was presented with her award during MD/MPH program orientation at UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston on July 30. Dr. Mokashi received her award at a ceremony at the UT Southwestern faculty club on May 31.
Photo: Pictured top to bottom, left to right: Dr. Stephanie Mokashi, Dr. Camille Spears, Dr. Kathryn Mackenzie DuPont and Ms. Alissa Chen.