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Catalina Soto, OMS II

OU-COM student named AMA Foundation
Minority Scholar

Catalina Soto adds award to impressive list of achievements

May 19, 2009

Catalina Soto, a second-year student at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine (OU-COM), received a prestigious 2009 Minority Scholars Award from the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation.

Soto is one of just 12 medical students in the country to receive the award, which includes a $10,000 scholarship. The Minority Scholars Award recognizes excellence as a medical student and outstanding promise for a future career in medicine.

Growing up in Colombia and later working with underserved populations in the U.S., Soto was exposed to inequalities of health care in both countries.

Soto has volunteered for the OU-COM Free Clinic and the Student Sight Saver Program, which conducts community glaucoma screenings, and she has participated in both the Latino Health Fair and the annual Medicine Run fundraising event to support the Free Clinic mobile care unit.

This year, Soto organized the Multicultural Extravaganza and served as both a teaching assistant for osteopathic manipulative medicine and a group facilitator for the OU-COM Professional Development in Cultural Competency Program. Additionally, she holds leadership roles in the college’s Surgery Club and the Student Osteopathic Surgical Association, and she mentors students in the Minority Association of Premedical Students at Ohio University. 

“I would like to emphasize the truly exceptional nature of Catalina Soto. She will definitely be a leader for our profession throughout the future,” said David Drozek, D.O., OU-COM assistant professor of surgery.

Soto received International Summer Research and Clinical Experience funding through the Centers for Osteopathic Research and Education (CORE), allowing her to participate in OU-COM’s clinical rotation in El Salvador last year. While there, she conducted research about lead exposure among children.  

“We saw the passion of her presentation and the motivation to carry the project forward,” said Grace Brannan, director of the CORE research committee, on why they chose to fund the El Salvador project. “You need that in research.”

Soto’s research in El Salvador earned her first place in the pre-event abstract contest at the American Osteopathic Association’s Bureau on International Osteopathic Medical Education and Affairs (BIOMEA) 10th Annual International Seminar last fall.

Also last summer, Soto received a stipend from the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery to study the short- and long-term outcomes of highly sensitized heart transplant recipients at the Cleveland Clinic under the supervision of cardiothoracic surgeon Gonzalo Gonzalez-Stawinski, M.D.

The Minority Scholars Award promotes diversity in the medical profession by supporting students from groups that are underrepresented in the medical profession. Less than seven percent of U.S. physicians fall within groups defined as underrepresented, including African-American, Native American (including Native Hawaiian and Native Alaskan) and Hispanic. Award recipients also must demonstrate scholastic achievement, financial need and a commitment to improving minority health.

“We are pleased to recognize the accomplishments of Catalina Soto and to provide her financial assistance for medical school,” said Jean Howard, AMA Foundation President. “Her academic achievements as well as the variety of activities in her community speak to her commitment to positively impact the health of minority populations and the health care system in the United States.”

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