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IIMS Community Engagement Hero Awards

This awards program recognizes outstanding individuals who have worked as part of a community and research partnership for the improved health and well-being of South Texas communities.  Selected awardees receive a $500 domestic travel award to be used for a future meeting or conference.  Community members, healthcare practitioners, and research faculty, staff, and or trainees who are actively engaged in a community and research partnership dedicated to addressing health priorities in South Texas are eligible.

Outstanding Student Award- This award recognizes a student who has demonstrated exceptional commitment and follow-through as part of a community service learning project or internship that has created a tangible benefit for a community and academic partnership. 

Outstanding Community Partner Award - This award recognizes community members who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and devoted their time, talents, and expertise for improving their community’s health and well-being.

Outstanding Research Partner Award - This award recognizes research faculty, staff, and/or trainees who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment for collaboratively developing projects that promote leadership and shared learning to address community health concerns.

Outstanding Community Health Improvement Project - This award recognizes outstanding health improvement projects that address community-identified health concerns.  Single projects or a series of projects focused on a community health priority qualify. 


Current and Previous Community Engagement Hero Awardees 

2021 Outstanding Community Partner Award Awardee: Jaime López, MS – Texas A&M Agrilife Extension – Frio County  
Partnership: Frio County Translational Advisory Board (TAB)

2021 Outstanding Student Award Awardee: Garrett Kneese – UTHealth San Antonio, School of Medicine Student
Partnership: Lower Rio Valley Grande Valley Community Health Club

2021 Outstanding Research Partner Awardee:  Pamela Recto, PhD, RN – UT Health San Antonio, School of Nursing
Partnership: American Indians of Texas Spanish Colonial Missions - SA Fatherhood Campaign

2021 Outstanding Community Health Improvement Project Awardee: Bexar County Translational Advisory Board and ReACH Center Community Service Learning Voces: Vaccination Team

2020 Outstanding Community Partner Award Awardee: Suhaib Haq, MD – El Bari Community Health Center Clinic, CEO and Founder
Partners: UT Health San Antonio – Family and Community Medicine, Bexar County Translational Advisory Board, South Central Area Health Education Center

2020 Outstanding Student Award Awardee: Sarah Masoud, MPH – UTHealth San Antonio, Translational Science PhD Student
Partnerships: Memory Cafes, SA Amigos, Jefferson Outreach and the South Texas Alzheimer’s Association

2020 Outstanding Research Partner Awardee: Fozia Ali, MD – UT Health San Antonio, Dept. of Family and Community Medicine
Partners: El Bari Community Health Center Clinic, Bexar County Translational Advisory Board, South Central Area Health Education Center, and UTSA Nutrition and Dietetics Program

2020 Outstanding Community Health Improvement Project Awardee: Domesticas Unidas –  Directors, Irasema Cavazos and Araceli Herrera
Partners: Domestic Workers Alliance, Las Mujeres West, and UT Health San Antonio – School of Nursing  


2019 Outstanding Student Award Awardee:   Anabel Rodriguez, PhD, MPH- UT Health School of Public Health-San Antonio
Partnerships: Texas Dairymen’s Association, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, and New Mexico State University, Texas DSHS Public Health Region 1, Idaho Dairymen’s Association (IDA), Colorado State University, Kansas State University, and UTHealth Tyler

2019 Outstanding Community Partner Award Awardee:  Bertha Ovalle - Las Mujeres West and Xinachtli
Partnership:  UT Health San Antonio 

2019 Outstanding Research Partner Awardee: Kirk Evoy, PharmD – University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy 
Partnerships: Project Collaborate, Operation Naloxone, SAMM Ministries, and Stop the Bleed

2019 Outstanding Community Health Improvement Project Awardee: Stop the Bleed Student Research Team: UT Austin College of Pharmacy Students - Claire Brandt, Courtney Baus, Alana Coleman, Kaitlin Kennedy, Robert Moton, Steven Swank, Michelle Tran, and Rebecca Moote; UT Health San Antonio School of Medicine – Katherine Kazen 
Community Partners: United Independent School District and Laredo Independent School Districts


2018 Outstanding Student Award Awardee:   Jacob Gilchrist
Partnership: South Texas Psychiatric Practice Based Research Network 

2018 Outstanding Community Partner Award Awardee:  Miguel Ayala, MD - South Alamo Medical Group
Partnership:  South Texas Ambulatory Research Network (STARNet) 

2018 Outstanding Research Partner Awardee: Waridibo Allison, MD, PhD
Partnerships: Kickapoo Traditional Tribe of Texas, San Antonio AIDS Foundation, The Valley AIDS Council, Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation, City of Laredo Health Department, The CEnter for Health Care Services, PILLAR, and Family-Focused AIDS Clinical Treatment Services

2018 Outstanding Community Health Improvement Project Awardee: The Madonna Center and Martha Martinez, MSN, RNC


2017 Outstanding Student Award Awardee:   Luyang Jin
Partnership: YMCA, San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, and UTHealth School of Public Health

2017 Outstanding Community Partner Award Awardee:  Olga Martínez
Partnership:  Villa Coronado Neighborhood Association and San Antonio Metropolitan Health District

2017 Outstanding Research Partner Awardee: Ana Luiza Allegretti, PhD, OTR
 Partnership:  Morgan’s Wonderland and UT Health San Antonio School of Health Professions

2017 Outstanding Community Health Improvement Project Awardees:  Janna Lesser, RN, PhD – Principal Investigator and the South Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program Office (Janna Lesser, Sandra Duggan, Joe Zapata, Andrea Moreno-Vasquez) and the South Texas AHEC Center Directors (Julie Bazan- Mid Rio Grande Border AHEC, Belinda Flores- South Coastal AHEC, Armando Lopez- Lower Rio Grande Valley AHEC,  Rosa Martinez – Southwest Border AHEC, and Paula Winkler – South Central AHEC)


2016 Outstanding Research Partner Award Awardee: Liem Du, MD
Partnership: University Health System and UT Health San Antonio 

2016 Outstanding Community Partner Award:  Randall V. Sellers, MD
Partnership: South Texas Psychiatric Practice Based Research Network 

2016 Outstanding Student Award:  Travis J. Block 
Partnership: Science Fiesta and the Office of Research, Education, and Mentoring 

2016 Outstanding Community Health Improvement Project Awardee: Margaret Costantino, MA LPC and the Center for Refugee Services