Student Accolades

Cristine Oh & Grace Zhang: Written on behalf of Dr. Giselle Hamad & Dr. Judy Chang

"We would like to recognize the tireless efforts of Cristine Oh and Grace Zhang, who first approached us in April 2020 to discuss their concerns about racial discrimination against Asian-Americans in the setting of COVID-19. Since our initial meeting, they have rapidly grown into skilled leaders who have crafted an articulate mission statement, mobilized their fellow students, organized faculty mentorship, and engaged medical school leadership in a thoughtful and mature way, all within a span of three weeks. It is impressive that they have accomplished all of this while studying for shelf exams. In addition, they have remained tightly organized and laser focused, even while recalling and reliving painful events related to racial discrimination.

The thoughtfulness of their approach and communication of their requests also stands out as worthy to commend. Both were courageous in their willingness to share vulnerable situations and feelings and incredibly empathetic and visionary as they considered both short and long term goals that would create resources, supports, and an environment not only beneficial to Asian-American students but to all students. They astutely noted that while our institution's diversity efforts for underrepresented minorities is a beginning, other students from minority populations had needs and concerns that were not being adequately addressed.

It is their long term goal to "maximize inclusivity and minimize exclusivity" in their words and to improve the support for not only Asian-Americans but also other marginalized groups at Pitt Med. We are confident that their efforts will ultimately help students feel included and safe.

Also noteworthy was Cristine's and Grace's thoughtful and intentional plan to ensure involvement and opportunities for succession of leadership with other students. Their motivations were not the attainment of recognition or leadership; they opened the opportunities for others and empowered their fellow students to step into these roles. Truly, many who hold leadership positions would learn much from the skilled leadership, clear vision, and excellent communication of these two amazing women. We certainly have.

Cristine and Grace have gone above and beyond to make Pitt Med a better place for all students. We are proud of their accomplishments , courage, and leadership skills. We would love to honor them with the recognition they deserve and allow the broader institution to learn from and benefit from knowing of their efforts."


Pitt Med Babysitting Volunteers: "I am nominating the following students for exceptional professionalism for offering to provide childcare for area healthcare workers while they navigate the challenges of online-only coursework and cancelled clinical rotations. The following Pitt Med students signed up to provide babysitting:

Anna Cohen, Marissa Baron, Sapna Shah, Mikaela Fenn, Carolyn Murphy, Rebecca Liu, Ashley Brienza, Carolyn Murphy, Carly Heck, Mikayla Lowenkamp, Kristen Milleville, Areej Ali, Alexa Jordahl, Elizabeth Trandel, Julia Pantalone, Alexis Ghersi, Carolyn Windler, Tejasvi Gowda, Colleen Judge-Golden, Beth Gordon.

These students have gone above and beyond to fill a much needed community role!” - Submitted by a UPSOM Medical Student (Spring 2020)


Birmingham Clinic Volunteers: "I am currently coordinating student volunteers to run deliveries for medications and food boxes for Birmingham Free Clinic patients during the COVID pandemic. I would like to submit all of the volunteers for a professionalism accolade. I have been truly floored by how willing everyone is to help and I am so grateful!  These are the people who have volunteered to be "on call" for us over the last two weeks to run deliveries of medication or food from the Birmingham Free Clinic to patients in the community:

Theresa Reno, Jacqueline Visina, Grace Zhang, Sandesh Raj, Song Kim, Valerie Gabao, Nicole Paul, Melanie Levine, Jacqueline Lee, Jessica Duell, Alexander Clark, Lauren Kaplan, Rafa Ifthikhar, Tinsley Webster, Brendan DeCenso, Carolyn Murphy, Carly O'Connor-Terry, Karen Olsen, Christy Taylor, Patrick Ebbert, Monica Picard, Colleen Judge-Golden, Rebecca Brown, Rebecca Minorini, Elizabeth Carbrera, Benjamin Pickus, Jane Kwon, Matthew Snyder, Carly Heck, Annie McDermott, Daniela Alarcon, Ashley Brienza, Elizabeth Trandel, Mikaela Fenn!” - Submitted by a UPSOM Medical Student (Spring 2020)


Stephanie Hum: "Student leaders organizing volunteers for the 9th St Clinic received a request for an MS4 interested in primary care to help the clinic staff launch their new telemedicine service, as this is an entirely new service for them to offer their patients and many staff were unfamiliar with the technology. Stephanie Hum volunteered right away and will be continuing to volunteer at the clinic weekly until she leaves for her residency in Denver. This is an example of exceptional professionalism because she is volunteering her time, is not receiving any type of clinical credit, is expanding her role as a medical student by also providing tech support, and is making a commitment to return to help the clinic all the way up until she moves for her residency.” - Submitted by a UPSOM Medical Student (Spring 2020)


Jane Kwon, Ben Zuchelkowski, Carly Terry-O'Connor, Tejasvi Gowda, and Sarah Minney: "Sarah, Ben, Carly, Tejasvi, and Jane have all stepped up in organizing the medical student community to respond to this pandemic through connecting us to various services in need (drug pick-up/delivery, food pick-up/delivery, clinical aid, public education resources, etc.). They have been updating us multiple times a day on where we can do the most good for the community during this crisis. It's incredible what they've achieved in such a short amount of time!" - Submitted by a UPSOM Medical Student (Spring 2020)


Michelle Zhang: “One of the new initiatives in this year’s Fuel Metabolism course was a lunch panel discussion covering an important social determinant of health. The topic was “How poverty, geography and health literacy intersect to affect nutrition and obesity”. The panel was composed of Maris Altieri, a nutritionist at Phipps, Sarah Buranskas from the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council and Dr. Jen Corbelli, Internal Medicine program director and co-medical director of Birmingham Free Clinic. The event was very successful with over 50 students in attendance and some great discussion between students and the panel. 

The reason I am writing is to make sure that OMED knows that this entire enterprise was the brainchild of Michelle Zhang, one of our MS-2 students. Michelle organized and recruited the panel. The entire event would not have happened were it not for her efforts. She is deserving of recognition for her efforts to improve medical education at Pitt Med.”


Brandon Smith: “Brandon Smith (third year pediatric inpatient rotation) willingly chose to follow a patient who was very medically complex as well as very ill. When the family chose comfort measures, he remained involved - helping to check in with them throughout the next several days to ensure they felt supported. He was even present at the time the patient was pronounced dead. I want to recognize his desire to continue to care for his patient when many others would shy away.

He showed a level of dedication, empathy, and tolerance for emotionally challenging situations that I hope he keeps throughout his career.”


Humza Ahmed: “During our first year, I was struggling during our Neurology course. Humza spent 5 unpaid hours on a Sunday afternoon tutoring me on my areas of weakness. If it weren’t for Humza’s kindness and selflessness, I would likely have failed that exam. He taught everything so well, I still remember it like yesterday. He is an excellent teacher and an even better human being.”