Three UTSW Students Receive MLK – CT Plus Community Service Scholarships

a doctoral student and two UT Southwestern School of Medicine students who made time to serve the community while also completing challenging academic courses were recognized with scholarships during this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Observance.

Martyna Kosno, an international student and Fulbright Scholar in the UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, won the $5,000 Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship for Community Service. Finalists Siddhakshi Solanki and Heba Zakaria each received $500 scholarships.

At the event, Ms. Kosno spoke about her passion for international education as a way to increase diversity, dialogue and understanding between cultures. “I was incredibly honored to receive the scholarship,” she said.

determined

Martina Kosno

scholarship winner
Martina Kosno

Senior Graduate Student

Ms. Kosno first came to UT Southwestern in 2014 as a pharmacy student from her home country of Poland, after learning about a research internship program called BioLab for those who wish to gain experience in biomedical research in the US. Ms. Kosno liked the experience so much that she decided to return to UTSW in 2016 as a graduate student working toward a Ph.D. in biological chemistry. She hopes to receive her PhD in February and then return to Poland to work as a medical science liaison, helping to bridge the communication gap between doctors and scientists.

While here, Ms. Kosno was active in volunteer activities focused on education, increasing the participation of women in scientific fields, and improving support for international students.

She joined the Alliance for Women Scientists at UTSW, becoming Outreach President. In that role, she helped organize career-oriented seminars for students at the Irma Lerma Rangel School of Leadership for Young Women in Dallas, as well as other all-girls schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. She set up an online exchange program between Rangel School in Dallas and one of hers in her hometown of Opoczno, Poland.

In recognition of the role the Fulbright Program plays in international exchange and education, Ms. Kosno and Karolina Stepien, a Fulbright Scholar and UTSW Graduate School alumna, founded the Dallas Chapter of the Fulbright Association. Ms. Kosno served as president for the first two years.

“As an international student, it takes a lot of courage and dedication to be so far away from family for so long in pursuit of research excellence,” Benjamin Tu, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry, said of Ms. Kosno. . “She is also a rare person who can selflessly offer so much personal time to community service and help underrepresented groups in STEM at the same time.”

Ms. Kosno is particularly committed to international education. “I really believe that if we educate people more about other cultures and other nations, and if we expose people to contact with other people, it makes communities more inclusive. We are less afraid of the unknown and realize that ‘normal’ is a much broader spectrum than what we are used to,” she said.

determined

Siddhakshi Solanki

Finalist
Siddhakshi Solanki

second year medical student

Interested in pediatrics and family medicine, Ms. Solanki is a native Texan who aspires to be the first female doctor in her family.

He helped found “Books for Babies,” an initiative through the Neonatology Student Interest Group that encourages parents whose children were born at Parkland Memorial Hospital to read to their babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In the program, medical students are trained to identify newborns who are isolated and work with families to promote reading as a bonding activity from infancy.

Additionally, she worked with underrepresented students in area high schools through the Project Education, Leadership, and Mentoring grant. The mentors helped the students develop a 30-minute health education presentation on microbiology for the kindergartners.

Another of Ms. Solanki’s goals is to help sexual and gender minorities feel represented in medicine. She is an official with PRIDE-UTSW and works to empower groups traditionally excluded from health conversations. As the Community Outreach Coordinator at a start-up, spotLIGHT, she conducts research and creates health workshops to make it easy for LGBTQIA+ teens to get health information in a non-gender and inclusive way.

“The role of a healthcare team is to create a welcoming environment for all patients, particularly those who are in a developmental transition period and may need further support. As a future pediatrician, I strive to give patients the space to flourish and become self-assured, independent individuals,” she said.

determined

heba zakaria

Finalist
heba zakaria

second year medical student

Ms. Zakaria, who grew up in Mansfield, Texas, has worked as a coordinator for the American Muslim Women’s Medical Association (AMWPA), planning informational workshops for Muslim women thinking of studying medicine. She recently started an AMWPA Chapter at UT Southwestern.

Ms. Zakaria has also mentored new medical students as a member of Southwestern Student Advising. During the summer of 2022, she helped plan a weekend of fun activities for the new students.

“As a first-generation college student and future doctor, I know how difficult it was to navigate educational opportunities and find valuable, honest advice,” she said. “Martin Luther King Jr. said: ‘Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.’ Whether it’s through mentoring or volunteering at a free clinic, I want to continue to emulate his legacy by volunteering my time to help others.

“I also strive to continue learning the skills and knowledge necessary to treat my future patients with compassion, humility and integrity,” he added.

Source