Student Spotlight 2022
Graduate Student, Dr. Amanda L. Labrado- Outstanding Dissertation for College of Science
We are happy to announce that Dr. Amanda L. Labrado’s dissertation entitled ‘Geological Problems with Microbiological Solutions: Deciphering the Authigenesis of Calcite, Dolomite, and Native Sulfur in Salty Environments’ has been selected Graduate School Outstanding Dissertation, 2020-2021, College of Science.
After completing her dissertation in Spring 2021, Amanda served as a Geological Society of America and U.S. Geological Survey Congressional Science Fellow on Capitol Hill. Amanda’s aspirations are to serve in a function that allows her to foster research while promoting science for everybody. As alumna, she remains active at UTEP, collaborating with her Ph.D. advisor Dr. Benjamin Brunner on research projects and engaging in outreach organized by the Department of Earth, Environmental and Resource Sciences.
Paola Garcia Hernandez Chosen as Undergraduate Marshal of Students Spring 2022
Paola Garcia Hernandez is a woman of many interests, and she excels in all of them. She was chosen to represent the College of Science as Undergraduate Marshal of Students at the spring UTEP Commencement because of her high academic achievements and her commitments to UTEP and community. She has been accepted to Baylor College of Medicine and plans to become a pediatric surgeon to eventually be able to contribute to repairing health disparities by providing health care to the underserved populations.
Paola is graduating with a major in biological sciences and minors in music and mathematics with a GPA of 4.0. A truly exceptional person who is held in high regard by her both peers and professors.
She represents the bi-national community of El Paso and Juarez. She was born in El Paso, Texas and spent the first ten years of her life in Juarez. She then moved to El Paso and graduated from Franklin High School in the top two percent of her class. Her father works in El Paso and her mother works in Juarez. While in high school, she was choir president and competed at the State level.
UTEP is a family affair; both her father and her sister graduated from UTEP. As university staff, Paola’s father would bring her to UTEP summer events, and she was always impressed with the welcoming UTEP community. Hence, when it was time to choose a college, she chose UTEP. She is the recipient of many scholarships: El Paso Independent School District Scholarship, Presidential Scholarship, LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Scholarship, Houston Endowment Professional and Leadership Development Fund Scholarship, Houston Endowment Scholarship, HSF (Hispanic Scholarship Fund) Scholarship, Vocal Department of Music Scholarship, and the GMIS (Great Minds in STEM) Scholarship.
While in her senior year in high school, her father was diagnosed with cancer; an event through which she experienced first-hand the challenges and health inequities faced by border communities and which spiked her interest and passion in the medical field. Thus, after the College of Science orientation, where research was emphasized, she enrolled in the FYRIS research program through which she spent her first two semesters at UTEP working on cancer research, and her first summer doing cancer research under the Building Scholars Program through which she was able to do a poster presentation at the COURI symposium. Following these events, she decided to become a physician.
Paola has participated in many civic clubs, volunteered at many events, and has worked in medical related events. She was a Chemistry Peer Leader for three years and is graduating as head peer leader. While a peer leader, has had the opportunity to mentor and academically aid hundreds of students in STEM-related fields with similar backgrounds as hers as well as to be published as an editor and contributor to the chemistry workbook used by the students. She credits Dr. James Becvar, creator and director of the Chemistry Peer Leader Program, for his mentorship, leadership training, and opportunities he provides for students to ensure their success. Dr. Becvar states ”Paola is an exceptional leader in facilitating the learning of students in chemistry. Her leadership qualities will carry her far in her career.”
She participated in MAPS (Minority Association of Pre-Med Students) as secretary, MPO (Medical Professions Organization), AMSA (American Medical Students Association), Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity as Secretary and Social Chair, CHAARG (Changing Health, Attitudes, and Actions, to Recreate Girls). In all of these organizations she volunteered at many community events.
She states that Dr. Gail Arnold, Director of the Pre- Health Professions Program, gave her excellent advising and help in getting into JAMP (Joint Admission Medical Program) through which she gained early acceptance into medical school, and provided crucial guidance for her success throughout every year of her college career. She interned at Texas Tech University Health Science Center in Lubbock during the summer of 2020 and at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center during the summer of 2021. She has volunteered at the UTEP Children’s Choir and at the Hospital of Providence Children’s Hospital, through which she found her interest in pediatrics, and worked as a medical scribe where she got the opportunity to use her ability to speak Spanish to translate between the health care providers and patients of underserved regions.
“Paola is not just a great student; she is a great person all around. No matter what, she always had the time to help out someone, with a smile, and a truly good heart.”, says Dr. Arnold, “Paola is a wonderful person to work with and I know no matter where she goes, she will be a great asset to her team”. She would like to thank her parents for instilling these qualities in her by being role models for hard work, dedication, and kindness.
She is graduating as a Top Ten Senior and College of Science Honor students which requires a high GPA, extensive experience in research, and extensive participation in the university and community projects. She completed her last two years under difficult circumstances due to COVID when courses and community events were switched to online, and even shadowed doctors online. She decided to become part of the solution to halt the pandemic and volunteered at UTEP’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic through which she helped community members get vaccinated
While at UTEP Paola was part of the UTEP choirs through which she had the opportunity travel and represent the university, be a part of master classes with composers and musicians from around the world, perform with the El Paso Symphony, and premier compositions as well as give back to the university by performing at graduations and ceremonies. She would like to thank Dr. Wilson and Mr. Kariotis for providing ample opportunity for her to perform and enjoy music.
Paola is a credit to both the College of Science and the University of Texas El Paso and we are sure that whatever path she chooses in medicine, she will be nationally known.
Sergio Saucedo Chosen as College of Science Banner Bearer
Sergio will represent the College of Science at the spring 2022 Commencement as Banner Bearer. Sergio is graduating with a baccalaureate degree in biochemistry, a GPA of 4.0, and acceptance into the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine with a Foster Scholarship. He is graduating as a College of Science Honor Student.
He was raised in El Paso, Texas and graduated from Canutillo High School as valedictorian. While attending high school he played percussion in the school band, was president of the National Honor Society, vice president of the French Club, part of the UIL Science Team, and he volunteered to help children with mental disabilities at the Special Olympics.
Sergio arrived to UTEP with 29 semester hours from El Paso Community College via Dual Credit and 37 semester hours via advanced placement. He started UTEP in the fall of 2018 as a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship. He chose biochemistry as the route to prepare for medical school, and ultimately fell in love with chemistry after just one course at UTEP.
Sergio was a second semester general chemistry peer leader and served as the Chemical Explorations manager, which entailed developing teaching chemical demonstrations/experiments, as well as the Workbook Revisions officer. He has been involved in research with Dr. Manuel Llano where he has trained numerous students and will be second author in a paper pertaining to the identification and characterization of the mechanism of action of a cellular protein that restricts HIV-1 infection.
Beside his outstanding academic achievements, Sergio found time to volunteer at many community events: the Insights Museum, El Paso Baptist Medical Clinic where he coordinates physician-patient care, Hospice of El Paso, Make a Wish Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, and at the COVID vaccine clinic during the shutdown. He is a member of the UTEP student organization Institute of Cardiology at El Paso which has participated in several Texas Tech events such as Medventure for Your Future, as well the 2nd Annual Sun City Cardiovascular Summit. Additionally, he has shadowed various physicians in the El Paso community.
He was part of the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP), which provides early medical school acceptance, MCAT preparation, and scholarships. Through JAMP, he participated in summer internships with Texas Tech University Health Science Center School of Medicine in Lubbock and UT Medical Branch John Sealy School of Medicine at Galveston. He states that Dr. Gail Arnold, director of the College of Science Pre-Health Profession Program, provided mentoring, guidance, and many practice interviews. He was especially impressed when one of his interviewers was the Dean of the College of Science, Dr. Robert Kirken.
He credits Dr. Manuel Llano, his research mentor, for engaging him in research, Dr. James Becvar for mentoring him in leadership, and Dr. Katja Michael for igniting a burning passion for biochemistry.
Despite his academic achievements, working as a chemistry peer leader, volunteering at multiple organizations, and shadowing doctors, he still has time for playing classical piano and he often plays for the seniors at retirement and nursing homes such as the Legacy at Cimarron.
UTEP is a family affair. His mother graduated from UTEP and his two younger siblings plan to attend. Sergio states that his success is due to his very supportive family.
Adam Campos – UTEP University Banner Bearer – Spring 2022 Commencement
Adam Campos will represent the University of Texas at El Paso as the University Banner Bearer in the spring 2022 commencement ceremony. He is graduating with a 4.00 GPA and has earned the designation of Top Ten Senior. He worked full time as a pharmacy technician at CVS Pharmacy during his entire time at UTEP. Adam has been accepted to the UT Austin College of Pharmacy where he will pursue a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in hopes of becoming a board-certified clinical pharmacist in the fields of cardiology, pediatrics, or emergency medicine. To become specialized, he will continue two more years of intense training after he completes his doctoral in pharmacy.
Adam was born in El Paso, Texas, and graduated number 3 in his class at Bel Air High School. He was part of the Dual Credit, AP programs, and the Health Professions program where he graduated from high school with 30 college credits.
He arrived at UTEP with many scholarships: UTEP Academic Award, Ysleta Education Foundation Scholarship, Stars Scholarship Fund, and the LULAC National Scholarship Fund. He chose UTEP because both his parents graduated from UTEP as educators. His twin brother will graduate from UTEP in the fall in hopes of becoming a physician assistant.
Besides working full time and achieving a perfect GPA, he still found time to join professional organizations and to volunteer. He is a member of the UTEP Pre-Pharmacy organization where he served as Secretary and most recently, Vice-President. The organization networks with established pharmacists and helps pre-pharmacy students get accepted into pharmacy school. He is a member of the Medical Professions Organization and the Texas Tech Double T Medical Honor Society. He grew a passion for research as he participated in Dr. Arshad Khan’s Brain Connectomics FYRIS lab his first year at UTEP, where Adam worked under the supervision of Dr. D’Arcy within this lab. He has volunteered at the El Paso Fighting Hunger Food Bank and Rebuilding Together El Paso, which is an organization that helps low-income homeowners with repairs and home improvement projects across El Paso. He also volunteered at the UTEP Vaccination Clinics when vaccines were first being distributed to the community, and the Texas Tech Rota Care Medical Clinic where uninsured and underserved individuals are treated. He also volunteered at the El Paso Baptist Clinic in the pharmacy department.
Because he worked full time, was an active member in several professional organizations, and volunteered while keeping a perfect GPA, he stated his only hobby was hanging out with friends and family.
Adams states that Dr. Christine D’Arcy mentored him through research and implanted in him a love of education. He plans ultimately to join an academic institution to both practice pharmacy and be an educator just like his parents. He states that Dr. Denise Pinal mentored him and helped him hone his leaderships skills.
The College of Science congratulates Adams and expects great things from him.