Every year, the Zuckerman College of Public Health gives awards to exceptional students. Every year, we have so many outstanding students that the decisions are always difficult. This year especially, with the educational challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the remarkable way that so many of our students responded by volunteering for programs and projects to help support communities through COVID, we want to celebrate each and every one of our public health graduates.
Our winners this year have shown remarkable compassion, determination, and resilience in the face of adversity. From all of us in the college community: Congratulations! Thank you for your commitment to helping others!
Outstanding Senior Award
The Outstanding Senior Award is awarded to an undergraduate student who has demonstrated exceptional achievements in: academic performance, internship performance, commitment to the College of Public Health and/or the College’s mission statement and values, community service.
Nataniel Tsai is graduating summa cum laude with two degrees: a Bachelor of Science with a major in Public Health and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, along with a Spanish minor. In addition to Nataniel’s stellar academic performance, he has shown leadership on-campus with his roles in the Honors College Alternative Spring Break program and in his service as a Public Health Ambassador. During his time at UA, Nataniel took advantage of opportunities for hands-on public health work and research: he participated in the Summer Research Institute with the UA’s Graduate College and studied abroad in Peru with the College of Public Health. Congratulations on this recognition, Nataniel! We look forward to hearing about your next adventures.
Public Health Service Award
The Public Health Service Award is awarded to an undergraduate student who has demonstrated outstanding achievements in Commitment to the College of Public Health and/or the College’s mission statement and values and in Community Service.
Sam Sneed is the recipient of the Public Health Service Award. Sam is graduating cum laude with his Public Health degree and a minor in Spanish. Sam’s research at the College has been centered on underserved communities in Arizona – including a project focused on Hopi Reservation water quality. Sam served as a Co-chair of the College’s 15th annual Social Justice Symposium Committee – a position that previously never had been held by an undergraduate student. In co-chairing that event, Sam and his team executed the theme of “Fighting Health Inequities through Racial Justice: A Public Health Lens'' by engaging a well-known keynote speaker, soliciting abstracts from potential breakout session speakers, recruiting volunteers, and marketing the event. Congrats on this recognition, Sam, and thanks for your service to our community and the College of Public Health!
Excellence in Public Health Practice Award
The Excellence in Public Health Practice Award recognizes academically sound online Master of Public Health students who excel in the design, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-based public health initiatives during their matriculation. This year, the College of Public Health presents the Excellence in Public Health Practice Award to two online MPH students.
Abby Souhrada is a student in the Health Promotion concentration who lives in Rochester, MN.. Abby maintained a 3.9 GPA, while working full time as a laboratory technologist and undertaking an internship investigating and evaluating sexually transmitted diseases and their relationship to domestic and intimate partner violence at the Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council. Abby gathered data through the Minnesota Department of Health and through their Sexual Health Adolescent Report. COVID-19 hit and Abby, like many of our graduating students, had to quickly pivot and complete these curricular requirements virtually. Throughout it all, Abby displayed a high level of optimism and determination to her studies. She remains committed to continued health education and promotion through her community service and professional development experiences. Congratulations Abby!
Larissa Yugay is a student in the Health Services Administration concentration who maintained a 3.9 GPA while working full time as a Clinical Research Coordinator for the UA. Originally from Kazakhstan where she earned an MD/PhD in Neurology, Larissa had served a variety of different communities world-wide before beginning her quest for a Master of Public Health degree. She continued her community involvement via her internship which was focused on providing online education for older adults. For the Public Health Practice and Translational Research Dept., Larissa identified appropriate basic methods of data collection, needs assessment techniques, planning and marketing. She also developed survey tools, quality improvement assessment and implementation plan for the web-based, community-facing lifelong learning program for older adults. Larissa’s commitment to public health, and its interfaces with other disciplines, is demonstrated throughout her studies and her determination to continue utilizing all aspects of her well-rounded education to support our communities. Congratulations Larissa!
Outstanding MPH Student Award
The Outstanding MPH Student Award was established to recognize graduating MPH students who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in the following areas: (1) Academic Performance, (2) Internship Performance, (3) Commitment to the College of Public Health, and (4) Community Service.
The nominations of each and every one of our Outstanding MPH Student nominees included comprehensive examples of the extraordinary efforts they undertook in the fight against COVID-19. They are a testament to the commitment of public health professionals everywhere who rose to the challenge of responding to the global pandemic but especially to our University of Arizona College of Public Health. Students within this nominated group conducted contact tracing, investigated cases, monitored outbreaks, recruited subjects and completed data analysis for COVID-19 research projects, volunteered at the vaccine PODs, reviewed food safety programs and led the AZCOPVIDTXT phone app project. These efforts were all accomplished while taking classes, participating in other public health research projects and performing internships. For our nominees’ outstanding accomplishments and achievements, we award the Outstanding MPH Student Award to the following students. Congratulations All!
Mark earned his MPH in Epidemiology while serving as the project coordinator for the Saguaro Study, a research study focused on the health and wellness of older UArizona employees as they adjusted to COVID-19 challenges in the workplace. Concurrently through his internship with Cochise County Health Department, provided contact tracing and data analysis services and supported the UArizona CoVHORT study in Cochise County. He also served as a supervisor for the SAFER contact tracing team where he mentored undergraduate public health students.
College of Public Health Student Life Award
The College of Public Health Student Life Award honors students who have made significant contributions to the College by initiating, promoting and facilitating student activities and events across the college and embodying the traits of a good citizen of the College by fostering involvement, collaboration and collegiality. This year we honor two of our graduates with this award.
Emily Cooksey joined the PhD in Environmental Health Sciences program and the college three short years ago, recently defending her dissertation entitled, “The world is your oyster: A multidisciplinary approach to evaluate the spatial distribution, occurrence and risk of V. parahaemolyticus in oysters and water.” While completing a doctoral degree in near record time, Emily embraced the opportunity to serve the college as a Graduate Ambassador, meeting prospective students with her contagiously positive attitude. She also participated in the Planning Committee for the MEZCOPH Poster Forum for two years. As the Keynote Coordinator the first year, she organized a panel presentation on border and migrant health. The second year Emily stepped up to Co-Chair the event only to find herself needing to pivot with the team to an online format within less than two weeks due to the Covid shut down. Needless to say, the event was a success. Demonstrating commitment, persistence, generosity, and ingenuity, soon to be “Dr.” Emily Cooksey is an outstanding recipient of this year’s College of Public Health Student Life Award.
Alexa Roy is graduating with a master’s degree in Health Behavior Health Promotion. Alexa is one of the University’s Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Fellows, having served in Central Uganda for 2 years as a community health volunteer nurse. When Alexa hit the ground in the College, it was clear that she wanted to maximize her experience and joined the 15th Annual Social Justice Symposium Committee as a Logistics Co - Chair and was selected as a Graduate Ambassador, as well. Concurrently, Alexa served as an assistant to our Director of Communications and in that role, she helped to elevate the visibility of student activities and events to a new high. Like an ace reporter, she sought out and promoted student achievements and accomplishments and shared that information in whatever venues she found herself, which contributed to the success of the College’s Virtual 20th Anniversary Gala Celebration. Alexa’s professionalism, devotion to and promotion of the college, and her collaborative and collegial spirit make her a role model for all of us and a deserving recipient of this year’s Student Life Award!
Delta Omega is the honorary society for graduate studies in public health. Membership in Delta Omega reflects the dedication of an individual to quality in the field of public health and to protection and advancement of the health of all people. Election to membership in Delta Omega is intended not only to recognize merit, but also to encourage further excellence in and devotion to public health work. The following individuals have been nominated for their outstanding contributions and dedication to public health endeavors as students and for their plans to pursue public health careers.