End of Year Celebration honors special achievements


Published: May 9, 2018

By Sally Crocker

Sph Students 2018

The UNT Health Science Center School of Public Health (SPH) recently recognized 2017-18 academic year student, faculty, staff and alumni accomplishments at its annual End of Year Celebration.

At the ceremony, Brandon Hoff, MPH – Maternal and Child Health (MACH) concentration, was admitted into the Alpha Sigma Chapter of Delta Omega national public health honor society, which recognizes demonstrated academic excellence, leadership, activity, commitment and exemplary work in the field of public health.

Dr. Witold Migala, Chapter President, said, “As a MACH student, Brandon’s goal was to learn, be a leader among his peers, and use his critical understanding of public health as the foundation for his medical school goals. Mr. Hoff’s academic achievements are stellar; he has also taken advantage of the many SPH opportunities that have added to his MPH educational and practical experiences, toward the DO degree he will pursue in the fall.”

Dr. Migala also named this year’s community inductee, Mayor Betsy Price, into the honor society, for her longstanding commitment to public health initiatives in the Fort Worth community, including the Blue Zones Project, Smoke Free Fort Worth, The Fort Worth Safe Communities Coalition, Bike Share, Safe Roads Initiative and Childhood Literacy programs.

Dr. Fifonsi Gbeasor, MPH ’08, was named as this year’s alumni inductee into Delta Omega, to recognize her outstanding work in public health since completing her UNTHSC degree.

Dr. Thombs & ShlesmaSince graduating from the SPH, Dr. Gbeasor has received a certificate in Gerontology from the Universite’ de Lille 2, France, and is currently working on her PhD and a public heath residency from the Universite’ de Lome’ Public Health Department, Universite de Lome’, Togo.

“Dr. Gbeasor demonstrates a strong commitment to improving the health of others through public health activities and initiatives,” Dr. Migala said. “She has also dedicated time to helping future students learn about public health, and she brings a unique, international perspective to her practice.”

Dr. Misty Smethers from the SPH faculty was also inducted into Delta Omega, for her dedicated service to student success and the mission of the SPH.

“In leading the Office of SPH Academic Services, she is focused on helping students achieve their greatest public health potential,” Dr. Migala said.

With a wide range of experience, research and academic accomplishments, Dr. Smethers has worked at UNT Health Science Center for 12 years and for the SPH for the last nine years, serving as an advocate for student needs and encouraging quality and achievement. She has previously been honored as Outstanding Staff Member by the UNTHSC Public Health Student Government Association (PHSGA) in 2016, 2014 and 2010, and was named as Outstanding PHSGA Advisor in 2010.

Students named to the Dean’s List by Dr. Dennis Thombs, SPH Dean, were Upendra Chaudhary, Phoebe Chi, Christian Chukwuma, Jessica De Hoyos, Christopher Dievi, Laura Abasi Feghali, Tasneem Hasan, Brandon Hoff, Deepti Joshi, Hannah Ligon, Jennifer Liou, Danielle Lynn, Michael McClure, Armando Moreno, Jessica Mussatto, Sarah Paetz, Kim Rahebi, Laci Sherman, Mandy Spadine, Kathleen Spangler, Stephanie Spohr, Marissa Tan, Maureen Thomas and Calvin Wimmer.

Laura Phipps was presented with the Dean’s Award for Scholarly Excellence in Academics, and Shlesma Chhetri received the Dean’s Award for Scholarly Excellence in Research.

This year’s Leon Brachman Award was presented to Lily Metzler. The award is given annually to a public health student in the MPH or MHA program demonstrating exemplary academic achievement in his or her graduate course of study. The award is named in honor of the community leader and philanthropist who helped establish the UNTHSC School of Public Health in 1999.

The 2018 Kenneth Cooper Award winner was Yuhan Huang. This award – presented to an outstanding MPH or MHA student demonstrating excellence and quality in the application of research methods in preparation for the thesis or other research activities – is named for best-selling author and internationally known health/wellness guru Dr. Kenneth H. Cooper, who started the Cooper Aerobics Center in Dallas in 1970 and pioneered the concept of preventive medicine and healthy lifestyle.

Drs. Bell & SuzukiCurtizia Alexander was presented with the Bob Crow Award, named for the former executive director of the Texas charitable Amon G. Carter Foundation and past member of the school’s Steering Committee, recognizing an outstanding MPH or MHA student with exemplary leadership and service to the school and community.

The UNTHSC Public Health Student Government Association also presented honors, highlighting faculty and staff members for going above and beyond in support of SPH students.

“Each year, the PHSGA recognizes faculty and staff who have supported students through quality teaching, research, advising and service,” said student representative Armando Moreno on behalf of PHSGA. “These awards were voted on by the student body and serve to acknowledge faculty and staff who have worked hard over the last year and have consistently gone out of their way to ensure student success.”

Recognized were Dr. Wonseok Choi for Outstanding Faculty in Teaching, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems; Dr. Brad Cannell for Outstanding Faculty in Teaching, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology; Dr. Melissa Oden for Outstanding Faculty Member in Research, Department of Health Behavior and Health Systems; Dr. Alisa Rich for Outstanding Faculty Member in Research, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology; Dr. Katherine Fogelberg, Outstanding Faculty Advisor, receiving this award for the second year in a row; and Beth Hargrove as Outstanding Public Health Staff Member.

The following individuals were thanked for their service over the year as 2018 SPH Student Ambassadors, assisting and serving as a resource for panels, tours, interview days and other events; some also worked as part of the Admissions Office team during the year: Luvleen Dharni, Vaishu Garapati, Rusty Gordon, Priscilla Kha, Ayianna Kennerly, Sarah Matthes, Laura Mayfield, Kimberly Morris, Jessica Mussato, Sana Nashikkar, Tony Nnaka, Natalie Requenez and Maureen Thomas.

Students recognized for their help in welcoming peers to the new school year, assisting with scheduling issues, helping to guide peers through mid-terms and preparations for finals, assisting with event planning and working on SPH Academic Services communications throughout the year were Sarah Paetz, Crystal Bui, Curtizia Alexander, Esther Galadima, Alice Miank, Elizabeth Velarde, Hector Rodriguez, Natalie Requenez and Vaishu Garapati.

This year a new award was presented for SPH Faculty and Staff Recognition, to honor SPH faculty for excellent/impactful teaching, research or service, and SPH staff for major contributions to the school and their department over the previous 12 months. Candidates were nominated by their peers, with award selections made by a committee of non-administrative faculty and staff.

Honored for Excellence in Teaching were Dr. Karen Bell and Dr. Karabi Nandy.

Dr. Marcy Paul was recognized for Excellence in Service, which honors individuals who have made a measurable impact on public health, policy or practice.

The Excellence by Staff award went to Ms. Terry Voss. This presentation honors outstanding performance by a School of Public Health staff member for contributions to the community and others, or noteworthy efforts that go above and beyond workplace duties and expectations.