CHS Announces 2021 Outstanding Seniors
This May, the College of Health Sciences is celebrating its third 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 2021 College of Health Sciences Outstanding Seniors are:
Fernanda Alferez – Rehabilitation Sciences – Summa Cum Laude: Throughout her undergraduate education, Fernanda successfully balanced working at UTEP’s Speech and Language Clinic with her studies and extracurricular activities in the community, where she volunteered for nonprofits including Kelly Memorial Food Pantry, Miracle League of El Paso, YWCA and the Special Olympics. Fernanda graduated summa cum laude in December 2020 and has been accepted into the UTEP Occupational Therapy program. In the future, Fernanda hopes to establish a clinic that offers free or low-cost rehabilitative services for individuals in need.
Manuel Almaraz – Clinical Laboratory Sciences – Summa Cum Laude: Manuel’s most memorable experience at UTEP was working in the laboratory of CLS professor Dr. Delfina Dominguez, where he helped conduct research on MRSA and antibiotic resistance. Despite the challenges associated with being a first-generation college student and the complications of travel to and from his residence in Mexico, Manuel remained dedicated to his education and assisted his peers as a mentor and CLS cohort leader. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career as a medical laboratory scientist and ultimately hopes to become a physician assistant.
Shazia Dharamsi – Health Promotion – Summa Cum Laude: A study-abroad semester in Morocco allowed Shazia to explore her passion for global health and gender inequities, and opened her eyes to the need to provide support while retaining cultural humility. In addition to her full-time studies, Shazia was as a research assistant in the Biobehavioral Research Lab and a tutor for her first-generation peers in Organic Chemistry, an experience that she says taught her about dedication and determination. She is currently in the process of applying to medical school and hopes to practice medicine in an ethnically and socioeconomically diverse community.
Monica Elisa Gutierrez – Kinesiology – Summa Cum Laude: As a research assistant in the laboratory of Dr. Kisuk Min, Monica helped investigate the impact of exercise on cardiac and skeletal muscle physiology. The experience provided opportunities for her to network with other kinesiology students and professors and become a greater resource to her peers. Following graduation, Monica plans to apply to the UTEP Occupational Therapy Program. In the future, she looks forward to practicing as a certified OT in an outpatient setting and aspires to own a pediatric outpatient clinic as well as a gym for females in the El Paso area.
Joseph Kennerly III – Rehabilitation Sciences – Summa Cum Laude: A nearly fatal car accident closed the door on Joseph’s professional basketball career, but opened another to a career in rehabilitation after he spent a year in physical and occupational therapy. As a non-traditional student, balancing school with community service and a life at home as a husband and father, Joseph served as a mentor to his fellow students and an example that academic success is possible at any age. After graduation, Joseph plans to apply to physical therapy programs. Long- term, he hopes to practice as a neurological physical therapist.
Corina Marrufo – Social Work – Summa Cum Laude: Corina’s most memorable experience at UTEP was the time she spent serving as an orientation leader for fellow CHS students. In her position, Corina worked with CHS academic advisors and encouraged students to become involved in activities that were personally meaningful. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she provided outreach support via virtual platforms for incoming UTEP students. Following graduation, Corina plans to continue her education in the Master of Social Work program and hopes to eventually work abroad as an international social worker for the Peace Corps.
Cassandra Mena – Social Work – Summa Cum Laude: One of the most profound experiences Cassandra experienced during her time at UTEP was joining a protest for children separated from their families at the border, an event that was personally meaningful due to her own immigrant ancestry. Cassandra hopes to continue the work she began as an intern at Child Protective Services as a full-time employee after graduation. She plans to apply to the Master of Social Work program and would eventually like to earn a Doctor of Social Work to research mental health issues on migrant children and continue her advocacy for immigrant families.
Daniela Quinones – Rehabilitation Sciences – Summa Cum Laude: While balancing a busy schedule of academics and service to UTEP as a Student Government Association collegiate senator, Daniela began teaching ballet to children with Down’s syndrome through the My Joyful Dance program—an experience that she says affirmed her passion for physical therapy and working with children. Following graduation, Daniela will continue her education in the UTEP Physical Therapy program. She eventually hopes to obtain her pediatrics specialist certification and work for the Teleton USA Children’s Rehabilitation Center.
Carlos Quintana – Rehabilitation Sciences – Summa Cum Laude: As a CHS student, Carlos strived to go beyond the normal call of duty as a student. Through his leadership positions in both the Pre-Physical Therapy Association and the Student Association of Rehabilitation Sciences (STARS), Carlos helped his peers complete competitive applications to graduate school and find shadowing and volunteer opportunities throughout the community. After graduation, Carlos will continue his education in the UTEP Physical Therapy program and hopes to open his own practice where he can incorporate his background in strength and conditioning.
Denise Rascon-Terrazas – Social Work – Summa Cum Laude: While serving as the collegiate senator for the College of Health Sciences, Denise was able to direct her passion for serving vulnerable populations into the development of a project that addressed the needs and challenges of people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following graduation, Denise will continue her education in the UTEP Master of Social Work program and plans to become a licensed mental health professional in order to continue giving back to her community.