Celebrating the 2020 College of Health Sciences Outstanding Seniors
This May, the College of Health Sciences is celebrating its second cohort of Outstanding Seniors. The designation of Outstanding Senior is given to undergraduate students who exhibit leadership and academic excellence, and a commitment to service. In lieu of a recognition ceremony, the successes of these outstanding students will be recognized this year via the CHS website and social media platforms.
The 2020 College of Health Sciences Outstanding Seniors are:
Paulina Caraveo – Kinesiology: Through her participation as a lab member in the Fitness Research and Clinical Applied Physiology Laboratories, Paulina found a passion for research in exercise and cardiovascular health, and contributed to abstracts and manuscripts that were presented at local and national conferences. In addition to her scholarly contributions, Paulina advocated for her peers as president of the Pre-Physical Therapy Association as well as the Clinical Applied Physiology Research Association, an organization she created to encourage and promote interdisciplinary research at the undergraduate level. After graduation, Paulina plans to obtain her clinical exercise physiologist certification and apply to the UTEP Physical Therapy Program. After overcoming a serious health challenge herself, Paulina hopes to one day assist her own patients in the physical and psychological processes of recovery.
Aleli Fernandez – Health Promotion: Aleli’s struggles with a learning disability early in her academic career taught her the value of hard work and persistence. As Aleli crossed the finish line for each milestone, she set escalating goals for herself. While still a student at EPCC, Aleli participated in the BUILDing Scholars summer research program, an experience that ultimately led her into a position as a research assistant for the UTEP Minority AIDS Research Center. Today, the Terry Scholar and officer for Eta Sigma Gamma looks forward to applying the skills she has learned in community health to her future studies in a master of public health program. This fall, she also plans to take the certified health education specialist (CHES) exam and looks forward to the opportunity to give back to her community.
Melissa Gutierrez – Social Work: From her very first semester at UTEP, Melissa was an active member of the UTEP community. Her experiences in the Minority Health International Research Program, Office of New Student Orientation, and the College of Health Sciences Dean’s Office gave her a keen understanding of the abundant opportunities available for professional development and meaningful community engagement. She was also inspired to create a new organization, Consulado Mexicano para el Cambio Social (CMCS), which aims to create high-impact changes and a better sense of community in the El Paso-Juarez borderplex. After graduation, Melissa plans to pursue a Master of Social Work degree and the clinical social worker licensure, and hopes to work with at-risk children.
Sarah Loveless – Rehabilitation Sciences (Concentration: Speech-Language Pathology): As a speech-language pathology major in the Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Sciences (BS-RHSC) program, Sarah quickly gained a close group of friends and a “new home” in the Campbell Building. She took advantage of multiple professional development opportunities, including a position in the UTEP Speech and Hearing Clinic and as the Community Service Chair Officer for the UTEP National Student Speech-Language and Hearing Association, where she helped raise funds for the 2019 Annual Walk for Children with Apraxia. In fact, the UTEP event was so successful that it now serves as a model for participating institutions across the country. After graduation, Sarah plans to pursue a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and use her training in American Sign Language to serve the Deaf community. Ultimately, she aspires to open her own practice and eventually return to UTEP as a professor.
Victoria Navarette – Rehabilitation Sciences (Concentration: Occupational Therapy): While managing a hectic schedule with full-time studies, research projects, shadowing professional occupational therapists, and family obligations, Victoria learned valuable lessons that she yearned to share with her peers, leading her to co-found the Aspiring Occupational Therapy Student Association. Victoria’s commitment to service extended into the community, where she volunteered with her local church and UTEP’s My Joyful Dance Program, which provides inclusive, adaptive ballet classes for children with disabilities such as Down syndrome. After graduation, Victoria will continue her studies in the UTEP Occupational Therapy Program and plans to continue participating in the AOTSA as a mentor to undergraduate students. She hopes to open her own practice in El Paso and serve children with disabilities and their families.
Laila Rajabi – Clinical Laboratory Science: Following the diagnosis of a chronic health condition, Laila ended a long teaching career to follow a second career path in clinical laboratory science. As a non-traditional student, she served as a mentor to her fellow CLS students, some of whom were her own students from her previous career. As Laila shared her professional experience and knowledge, her peers brought her up to speed on the newest technology. Laila credits the administration and faculty in the program for encouraging and supporting her during a time when a relapse in her condition midway through the program caused her to consider dropping out of school. Inspired by the work of her “science hero” colleagues in public health agencies who are battling COVID-19, Laila plans to pursue a career that combines her two passions of public health and clinical lab science.
Jozelyn Rascon – Rehabilitation Sciences (Concentration: Physical Therapy): The College of Health Sciences’ future Top Ten Senior started her undergraduate career feeling very unsure of herself. Jozelyn began her freshman year following multiple weekends of applying for every scholarship she could find. As she transitioned into her role as a college student, Jozelyn was awarded a BUILD scholarship and was placed in the Clinical Applied Physiology Lab, and the remainder of her academic journey fell into place. Jozelyn believes being pushed out of her comfort zone to write abstracts and attend academic conferences – something she never foresaw herself doing – has defined who she is today. After graduation, Jozelyn will continue her studies in the UTEP Physical Therapy Program and plans to pursue a specialization in neurology. She eventually hopes to open her own practice and serve her community of El Paso.
Meagan Smith – Kinesiology: During her time at UTEP, Meagan balanced a busy schedule of academic commitments, research in the MiNER Laboratory, volunteerism, family obligations, a position with a semi-professional soccer league for women, and a mentorship role for young girls in soccer teams. Despite her abilities and many successes, Meagan often second-guessed herself. She attributes her rotation experience in the Fitness in the Golden Age program with helping to boost her confidence levels. As clients began telling her that she inspired them to continue in the program, she finally recognized her capabilities. Her experience having to overcome multiple athletic injuries inspired her long-term goal of becoming a physical therapist. After graduation, Meagan plans to take the prerequisite requirements for the UTEP Physical Therapy Program, and apply to become a PT technician to continue building her clinical skills.
Elizabeth Trujillo – Rehabilitation Sciences (Concentration: Physical Therapy): As a first-generation college student, Elizabeth faced many challenges during her academic career, including a time following her mother’s illness when she was the sole provider for her family. Despite the tremendous pressure placed upon her, Elizabeth continued to work, excelled in her studies and also joined the Clinical Applied Physiology Laboratory. Elizabeth’s experience as an Entering Student Program Peer Leader helped to shape her character and provided an opportunity for her to help other students struggling to transition into college life. Following graduation, Elizabeth will begin the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Texas Women’s University. She hopes to return to her community of El Paso to practice, and one day aspires to return to UTEP as a professor of physical therapy.
Shawn Vosburg – Social Work: Following a 29-year career in the Army, Shawn decided that he more to give, and rather than retiring, he set out on a second career path in social work. His acceptance at UTEP, despite being a “C student, at best, in high school,” was the first of many successes on his new academic journey. While at UTEP, Shawn participated in multiple student organizations and volunteered as often as he could—including a role as the volunteer coordinator for the annual HOPE Clinic at the Opportunity Center for the Homeless—and simultaneously met his second goal of remaining on the Dean’s List each semester. After graduation, Shawn will continue his studies in the UTEP Master of Social Work Program and will seek his certification as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He hopes to specialize in post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated grief therapy services for veterans and first-responders.