Three students from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health have received the United States Public Health Service’s 2017 Excellence in Public Health Award.
The award recognizes 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.
The students — Mr. Romero N. Santiago, Ms. Puja B. Gandhi and Ms. Arianna Fresquez — are pursuing dual degrees in medicine and public health (MD/MPH). School of Public Health MD/MPH students earn their MD degrees at partner medical schools throughout Texas, and their MPH degrees from UTHealth School of Public Health.
“These three students have worked hard to improve the health of their fellow Texans, through their education, leadership and service to the community,” says Dr. Eric Boerwinkle, dean of the School of Public Health. “They are well-deserving of this recognition.”
[Photo: (left to right) Mr. Romero N. Santiago, Ms. Puja B. Gandhi and Ms. Arianna Fresquez]
Mr. Romero N. Santiago
Mr. Santiago is a fourth-year medical student at UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He has promoted bike safety and healthy diets; improved dental care in his community; governed the Texas Medical Association (TMA) student body as its chair; led the American Medical Association student body discussion on subject areas relating to population health, including the harms of e-cigarettes, and participated in public health surveillance efforts. He customized his MPH to focus on epidemiology and infectious disease. After Mr. Santiago graduates from UT Southwestern Medical School in June, he will start his family medicine residency at the University of California Davis in Sacramento. He plans to use his public health skills to help families and communities.
Ms. Puja B. Gandhi
Ms. Gandhi is a third-year medical student at McGovern Medical School. She has participated in the South Texas Environmental and Educational Research Program, during which she learned about pertinent U.S.-Mexico border issues and how to provide focused health services tailored to the community. She also has used cultural competency to improve health care quality during her internship with the Houston Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Gandhi graduates from medical school in May 2018. She’s earning her MPH in epidemiology and healthcare management, and plans to use her MD/MPH to address global health disparities.
Ms. Arianna Fresquez
Ms. Fresquez, a fourth-year medical student at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Medicine, has focused on the health of adolescent girls in South Texas. She has worked with the Texas Medical Association to improve sexual education programs in Texas schools. She’s currently an intern for Healthy Futures of Texas, an organization that provides and promotes strategies to help young people make healthy decisions and avoid unplanned pregnancies. Ms. Fresquez customized her MPH to focus on adolescent sexual health and behavior. After graduating from medical school later this month, she will start her obstetrics and gynecology residency at The University of Oklahoma-Tulsa. She plans to use her dual degree to focus on women’s health.
USPHS medical officers present the honor to awards recipients in person. Ms. Fresquez received her award March 23 in a ceremony at UT School of Medicine in San Antonio. Santiago will receive his award June 2 at UT Southwestern. Gandhi will be presented with her award at McGovern Medical School on July 26.