Commencement honors new health professionals

By Betsy Friauf
The UNT Health Science Center celebrates Commencement on May 21. Some 600 students will receive diplomas this spring, bringing the UNT Health Science Center’s four-decade total to well over 8,000 health professionals.

Numbers tell only part of the story. The real excitement is in our students’ devotion to the university’s values and mission.

During Commencement, seven graduates will be commissioned into the U.S. Armed Services.

Here are just a few of our exemplary spring 2016 graduates, along with the degrees they will receive and a snapshot of their accomplishments:

Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons

Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons: Master of Public Health in Community Health

She was recently awarded the School of Public Health’s highest honor, the Richard S. Kurz Award, given to an outstanding graduate who emulates the leadership, accomplishments and qualities of Dean Emeritus Kurz, who retired in August 2015. Gonzalez-Pons has received considerable recognition for her invention to help fight international sex trafficking. She was invited and presented her idea at the Yale University’s 2016 Global Health & Innovation Conference, to gain feedback and mentoring from international experts and speakers at the conference.

Anh Q. Nguyen

Anh Q. Nguyen: DO and PhD degrees

She is this year’s recipient of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean’s Award for Scholarly Excellence in Academia and the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine Dean’s Award for Scholarly Excellence with an emphasis on research.  She completed her dissertation research under Regents Professor Robert Mallet. Her dissertation focused on pyruvate to lessen brain damage as a result of cardiac arrest and resuscitation.  In July she starts her residency in Internal Medicine at UT Medical Branch, Galveston. She recently welcomed her first child.

Paul McDonald

Paul McDonald: Master of Physician Assistant Studies

McDonald has been an exceptional student, with a 4.0 in his clinical year. He scored highest among his classmates two years in a row on an exam that predicts success on the PA licensing exam. He also served as Class of 2016 Activity Chairman, working with other PA class officers to plan major events and fundraising.

Macy NeSmith

Macy NeSmith: Doctor of Physical Therapy

She has a love of pediatrics and intends to work in a home health setting in the Fort Worth area. She said, “My favorite aspect of my new profession is getting to build relationships with people and transform lives for the better!”

She was inspired to become a physical therapist because of her father’s challenges following his spinal cord injury.

Chad Pittmon

Chad Pittmon: Doctor of Physical Therapy

He is an Armed Services veteran and an outstanding writer. “I love to read his assignments,” said Physical Therapy Assistant Professor Brandy Schwarz.

Pittmon’s wife had a baby during his clinical rotations. He returned a few days later and impressed the clinic providers sufficiently to hire him.  He is especially interested in music and how it helps patients with neurological issues.

Michela Montecchi-Portman

Michela Montecchi-Palmer: PhD in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

She successfully defended, with distinction, her dissertation in the Visual Sciences field. At the same time, she was working full-time at Alcon Laboratories as well as being a mom to two young boys. 

Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca Taylor: Master of Physician Assistant Studies

An exceptional learner in the classroom and in the clinic, she has achieved an impressive cumulative 4.0 GPA across all years in her PA program.

She also relates beautifully to those she serves. Her preceptors describe her as “very kind and easy to get along with,” and “dependable and sweet.”

Tony Zinnah

Tony Zinnah: Doctor of Physical Therapy

His extensive community involvement includes volunteer work at Hope Farm, a leadership program for at-risk boys. Zinnah’s professors describe him as a committed lifelong learner who seeks ways to give back, dedicated to improving the lives of others.

Said Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Mike Richardson, “He’s always positive, respectful, professional and hardworking.”


Bhatti Fc
SPH student experiences politics and policy firsthand through Capitol Hill internship

By Sally Crocker   The last few months have ushered in a whirlwind of change for UNTHSC School of Public Health student Megan Bhatti, who is interning this spring in Washington, D.C., for U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, representing the 12th District of Texas. Bhatti’s days are busy attending...Read more

Mar 22, 2018

Match Day
Match Day excitement grips TCOM medical students

By Jan Jarvis   The anticipation kept Vincent Wang awake all night. “It’s like Christmas,” the fourth-year medical student said. “You know you’re getting a present, but you don’t know what it is.” Wang was among 213 Texas of College of Osteopathic Medicine fourth-year ...Read more

Mar 20, 2018

Sara Bryd
Public health student to bike across Africa for medical, educational mission

By Sally Crocker   Sara Byrd is looking forward to UNT Health Science Center graduation day for two very big reasons. After crossing the stage in cap and gown at this spring’s commencement ceremonies, the School of Public Health MHA graduate will board a plane for Africa. There she w...Read more

Mar 19, 2018

TCOM Students
Student-led charity golf tournament reaches endowment goal

By Alex Branch   In 2012, medical students Sammy Lee Chong and Nicole Hocevar Howerton helped brainstorm ideas for students to work together for a good cause outside the classroom. They started Tee Off F.O.R.E. TCOM, a golf tournament that raised money for student scholarships at UNT H...Read more

Mar 16, 2018