CHS Announces 2023 Outstanding Seniors - Part Two
Published May 5, 2022 By Darlene Muguiro UTEP College of Health Sciences
This May, the College of Health Sciences is celebrating its fifth cohort of Outstanding Seniors. The designation of CHS Outstanding Senior is awarded to ten graduating seniors in the College each academic year. These students are selected on the basis of academic achievement, personal excellence, and positive impact on the College of Health Sciences. This year, CHS will recognize students in a special ceremony to be held Monday, May 8th.
In this story, we are highlighting the last group of the 10 students. The first group was featured in a separate piece published May 4th.
Denise Dominguez (Clinical Laboratory Science): Like many of her peers, Denise’s world quickly changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pressures of online learning were compounded when she and her mother assumed the additional role of caretakers for her grandmother, who was diagnosed with dementia. As Denise returned to in-person classes, she found solace from the demands of school and home as a volunteer with a migrant center at her church. It was here that she learned how to move forward with peace and gratitude despite the challenges she had been facing.
During her time in the Clinical Laboratory Science program, Denise had the opportunity to interact with alumni. These networking events inspired her to help grow and develop the CLS Class of 2023 organization. Denise and her fellow officers built the organization from scratch, creating community outreach and fundraising activities for CLS students. The CLS Class of 2023 was recently recognized for its outstanding record of community service with the Outstanding Community Engagement Award from the UTEP College of Liberal Arts and the Center for Community Engagement.
After graduation, Denise will take the medical laboratory scientist certification exam. She plans to work in a hospital setting while also pursuing a master’s degree in forensic science at Arizona State University.
Gloria Estela Duenas (Public Health): As a first-generation college student, Gloria was faced with many challenges that she never thought she would be able to handle. While managing her responsibilities at work and at home as a mother, she also faced financial constraints that required her to reduce her course load to part-time, extending her time to graduation. Despite the challenges, Gloria continued to focus her efforts on maintaining a high GPA, and was awarded the UTEP Grant in her final year in school.
In addition to her studies in the Bachelor of Public Health program, Gloria was an active volunteer, committing her time and energy to multiple organizations including Mision de Gracia, El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, the Salvation Army Thrift Store, Border Therapy, University Medical Center and Nazareth Samaritan Senior Living Center. She says that serving her community brings both personal joy and invaluable experience that will benefit her in her future career.
Following graduation, Gloria will seek work in a clinical or hospital setting, where she can share her knowledge in community health and nutrition. Long-term, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in health administration and hopes to open a recreation center for the elderly.
Alicia Najar (Clinical Laboratory Science): In her first year at UTEP, Alicia participated in the BUILDing Scholars Program, working on biomedical research under the careful guidance of her mentor. While the experience didn’t lead to a career in research, it did open a pathway for her entrance into the Clinical Laboratory Science Program.
Like all of her peers in the CLS Program, Alicia dedicated many hours during her senior year volunteering for and organizing health fairs and other community outreach events. She says her experience at the HOPE Health Fair at the Willie Sanchez Family Center was the most impactful. As someone who had experienced homelessness as a child, providing services to people in similar situations was particularly gratifying and reminded her that even the smallest screening tests are critical for families without access to basic healthcare. In addition to volunteering, Alicia managed classwork and full-time employment, and also served as her class historian. In this role, she built the Clinical Laboratory Science Program’s social media platform.
After she graduates, Alicia will take her ASCP certification exam to become a licensed medical laboratory scientist. She hopes to work in a hospital laboratory, specializing in blood banking or microbiology. In the future, she plans to return to school to pursue a master’s degree in epidemiology and public health.
Audrey Sanchez (Kinesiology): Audrey says that her experience as a nontraditional student has been one of the most challenging and rewarding parts of obtaining her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology. As a mother of three school-aged children, she found it difficult at times to manage the family’s schedule and find affordable childcare. But by leaning on her strong faith, she persevered, graduating with an impressive 4.0 GPA and leaving a strong example for her children to follow.
During her time in the Kinesiology program, Audrey volunteered at Spectrum Therapy Consultants Clinic, assisting patients in completing their rehabilitation exercises under the guidance of the staff, and for the food pantries at Abundant Living Faith and Kelly Hunger Relief Center. One of her most memorable experiences was a maymester abroad in Seville, Spain. It was here that Audrey’s eyes were opened to the importance of interprofessional collaboration in research and clinical practice.
Following graduation, Audrey hopes to open a nutritional meal prep business in El Paso, providing healthy meals at an affordable price and sharing her knowledge about the importance of a healthy lifestyle to disease prevention. Long-term, Audrey pans to apply to a doctor of physical therapy program and become a licensed physical therapist.
Liliana Villa (Rehabilitation Sciences – Physical Therapy): This May, Liliana will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation sciences in three-and-a-half years – a record that is particularly meaningful as she made a promise to her aunt before she died that she would beat her time-to-degree of four years. Liliana says that overcoming the grief she felt at the loss of her aunt was challenging, but she didn’t want to let her down. In addition to the record completion rate, Liliana has successfully maintained a 4.0 GPA.
While managing a heavy class load, Liliana worked as a tutor in the El Paso Community College Writing Center, where she guided students through the writing process, from brainstorming and research up to the final drafts of essays. The experience brought her joy and personal fulfillment, and helped her develop her leadership skills. This semester, she also served as a teaching assistant in the Rehabilitation Sciences program. While the opportunity itself was unexpected, she is grateful for Dr. Gregory Schober’s faith in her ability to serve in this role.
After graduation, Liliana plans to apply to the UTEP Physical Therapy program and become a practicing physical therapist. In honor of the two sisters she lost to systemic lupus erythematosus, she plans to concentrate on cardiovascular diseases and women’s health.