7th Annual Service Learning Symposium Highlights Student-Led Community Service

7th Annual Service Learning Symposium Highlights Student-Led Community Service

Earlier this month, students from the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM) were recognized at the 7th Annual Service Learning Symposium (SLS) for their service to the El Paso community. The event was created as a platform to showcase the university’s philosophy of service education, a form of teaching that encourages meaningful community service. The approach results in one-of-a-kind, hands-on experiences that allow students to apply their newfound knowledge and skills to life beyond the classroom, while simultaneously helping the community.

Students who presented at the SLS are all enrolled in (years one and two) or graduates of (years three and four) the PLFSOM’s Society, Community, and the Individual (SCI) course — a core requirement of the medical curriculum that introduces public health issues through a social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental lens. E. Lee Rosenthal, Ph.D., M.P.H., a course faculty member and key organizer of the event, served as a faculty mentor for one of the student projects.

“The symposium is a great opportunity for our campus community to deepen student learning gained from community engagement of all kinds,” said Rosenthal. “Student activities reflect the diversity of our students and cross a wide range, from helping to deliver needed medical care to building robots with elementary school students.”

Rosenthal was assisted in coordinating the symposium by Barbara Stives, SCI course manager. Charmaine Martin, M.D., in the Department of Family Medicine served as the master of ceremonies for the students’ oral presentations. The event was planned by a campus-wide committee of faculty, staff, and students.

This year, the SLS worked to increase its educational impact for the campus community by offering continuing medical education credit through the keynote address. Introduced by Associate Dean Rick Brower, M.D., keynote speaker Arthur Kaufman, M.D., is the vice chancellor for community health at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center’s Department of Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Kaufman discussed the role of sociocultural factors in access to health care, and what health care professionals can do to bridge the gap.

Student presentations — both oral and poster — provided an opportunity to learn about the community served while giving the presenters a chance to think about what they learned from their service. Awards were given based on the caliber of the presentation and the community impact of the service project. The following four awards were given this year:


Best Oral Presentations:

Winning Oral Presentation - Migrant Farmworkers...
Best oral presentation (innovative project; left to right): Samuel Garcia, Annette Escobedo, Fortune Unegbu








  1. Sustained Project

Expanding the Impact of Sport Physical Drives in Underserved Border Town Communities

Authors: Kelcy Steffen, Andres Belmont de Santiago, Jesus Gutierrez, Allison Mootz, Lee Swinney, Maria-Teresa Villanos, M.D., Blanca Garcia, M.D.

  1. Innovative Project

Establishing a Student-Run Free Clinic on the US-Mexico Border:  Challenges and Successes

Authors: Fortune Unegbu, Samuel Garcia, Annette Escobedo


Best Poster Presentations:


Winning Poster Presentation - Providing Preventative.... and Willing Oral Presentation 1
Best poster and oral presentations (sustained projects; left to right): Andres Belmont de Santiago, Jesus Gutierrez, Allison Mootz, Lee Swinney, Kelcy Steffen
  1. Sustained Project

Providing Preventative Women’s Healthcare in an Underserved Border Population

Authors: Andres Belmont de Santiago, Jesus Gutierrez, Allison Mootz, Kelcy Steffen, Lee Swinney, Maureen Francis, M.D.

Winning Poster Presentation - Mentorship...
Best poster presentation (innovative project; left to right): Jesus Guzman, Dominic Campano, Jordan Ing









  1. Innovative Project

Mentorship Experiences as Medical Students in BBBS

Authors: Jesus Guzman, Jordan Ing, Dominic Campano


Below is a list of other 2016-17 student community projects presented at the SLS, all reflecting valuable contributions being made by PLFSOM students:


Oral Presentations:

79924, an Area in Need; 7th Annual SUNS Health Fair

Authors: Taylor Bramblett, Daniel Lapid, Catherine Bui, Emily Capt, Priyanka Chary, Natalia Luna, Heather Morgan, Dillon Nguyen, Brittany Olivarez, Joshua Penniman, Babak Sadri, Jay Samanta, Jennifer Tapia, Tina Tran

MLK Day of Service

Authors: Karen Durbin, Justin Thomas, Meena Manivannan, Renet Roy

Civil Air Patrol Community Preparedness and Response to Natural Disasters and Remote Rescues

Author: Shane Lipson

RotaCare’s Integration of Local Resources Around Cuban Refugee Care

Authors: Micah Ellowitz, Jake Wilson, Derrick Oaxaca, Desiree Carmen, Brittany Montgomery, Richard McCallum, M.D.


Poster Presentations:


The Gift of Sight – Year 2

Authors: Sean Trinh, Cong Phan, Christian Draper, Allison Mootz, Chelsey Krambeer

Jacob Winters, and Bryson Tudor

Initiation of the Baptist Clinic’s Community Education Outreach Program

Authors: Jennifer Nielsen, Jaibel Makiyil, Sumana Reddy

Catalyzing Interest in STEM Fields Among High School Students by FIRST Robotics Competition

Author: Akhil Padarti

3rd Annual Spring for Sparks 5K and Fundraiser: Successes, Challenges and Lessons

Authors: Micah Ellowitz, Sumana Reddy, Jake Wilson, Caitlin Toohey, Ayal Shavit


The service learning projects presented at the 7th Annual SLS would not have been possible without the following 2016-17 community partners, who are among over thirty organizations that host PLFSOM students throughout the year. Martha Holguin of the Sunland Park, New Mexico Library and Maggie Moody of Gigi’s Playhouse addressed symposium participants on behalf of the community host organizations. The following groups were invited to host tables for the day and were recognized at the symposium:


  • Humane Society of El Paso
  • Center Against Sexual and Family Violence
  • Compadres Therapy
  • Gigi’s Playhouse
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Special Olympics El Paso
  • El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank
  • Clardy Elementary School
  • Salvation Army
  • Children’s Crisis Center of El Paso
  • El Paso Zoo
  • Rescue Mission of El Paso
  • Candlelighters of El Paso
  • Therapeutic Horsemanship of El Paso
  • Sunland Park, New Mexico Library
  • Ardovino’s Desert Crossing
  • Books are GEMS
  • Veterans Recreation Center (Northeast)


A last important feature of the symposium was a closing reception, where award winners were announced, community partners were thanked, and members of the PLFSOM’s inaugural 100 Hour Club (60 qualifying students as of December 2016) were acknowledged. First, second, and third-year students were pinned; fourth-years will be acknowledged during their graduation. The 100 Hour Club, which recognizes medical students for their service hours, was initiated this year in an effort to bring awareness to the impact that PLFSOM students are making in the community. Tanis Hogg, Ph.D., assistant dean and chair of the Department of Medical Education, along with Rosenthal and other members of the SCI and Department of Medical Education faculty, hosted the reception.

Photos by Tommie Morelos, Institutional Advancement