Robert Logan Nugent Award
Candidates should have a record of accomplishments that exemplify the high ideals of Dr. Nugent, such as active and enthusiastic participation and service in community and University endeavors.
Alexa Nguyen will graduate summa cum laude from the Honors College with a degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and minors in Economics and Religious Studies. As a Flinn Scholar from Prescott, Alexa has embraced the spirit of giving back throughout her undergraduate experience and exemplified the essence of service to the University, the greater Tucson community, and Arizona through her actions.
Beginning her freshman year, Alexa worked in Dr. Joyce Schroeder’s lab at the Arizona Cancer Center studying alternative trafficking of breast cancer proteins. She diligently pursued researching genetic mutations in hopes of elucidating connections and presented a poster at the Gordon Research Conference on mammary gland biology in Tuscany. For her work, Alexa received the MCB Excellence in Undergraduate Research Award. Her cultivated passion for research and cancer treatments, along with shadowing clinicians at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson and an internship at Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals, contributed to Alexa’s decision to pursue medicine and oncology in the future.
Outside her research, Alexa placed a premium on devoting time to the University’s outreach and recruitment efforts. Alexa served two years as co-president of the Honors College Ambassadors, where she led numerous activities to provide families with insight into the honors experience. As a College of Science ambassador, Alexa served to support current UA and future students in STEM. Beyond recruitment activities, Alexa contributed to outreach and science education events for children and underserved communities.
Most gratifying to Alexa were service and engagement activities that gave back to the community. As a studio intern at Ben’s Bells Project, Alexa utilized her artistic skills to help spread the nonprofit’s mission of kindness. She credits embracing opportunities such as teaching videography and producing a short documentary on the refugee experience as transformative life experiences.
Upon graduation, Alexa will conclude her current research project and apply for medical school, working as a clinical intern with the Pima Heart Group in Tucson during her interim year.
Tala B. Shahin
Tala B. Shahin will graduate summa cum laude from the Honors College with dual degrees in Physiology and Arabic. Born in Tucson, Arizona, she is a first-generation Palestinian American and has shown a remarkable commitment to her education, research and community.
At the University, Tala explored her interests in translational medicine upon acceptance to the Undergraduate Biology Research Program. Conducting clinical biomedical research with Dr. David G. Armstrong, she researched the surgical treatment of foot ulcers in patients with diabetes. Tala has been awarded the Excellence in Biological Sciences Scholarship, the Lela E. Booher Scholarship, the Kathryn B. Willock Library Award and multiple UA Presidential Awards. She is a Galileo Circle Scholar, BIO5 Innovator, MENAS Outreach Scholar, Michael A. Wells Research Awardee, and is the 2019 Physiology Outstanding Senior.
Outside of her research, Tala discovered her passion for contributing to the success of others. Serving two years as president and health chair of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national pre-health honorary, she created over 30 health engagements, and oversaw nearly 150 events each year with her board. As a PreMD Ambassador, she created and managed a pen pal program to nourish the scientific curiosity of middle school students, and as an intern at the UA Elder Rehabilitation Program, she assisted in participants’ quest for heightened physical mobility and mental agility. Tala serves as a co-organizer of the Interfaith Packathon, an event where hundreds of volunteers package over 50,000 meals to be donated to organizations across Southern Arizona.
Driven by her interest in medicine, Tala traveled to Ghana and embarked on an internship with a nonprofit organization to record sight-restoring surgeries for underserved rural populations. Her two-year role as an intern at Banner-University Medical Center’s Emergency Department and service as a hospice volunteer highlight her commitment not only to global health, but to local patient populations as well.
Following graduation, Tala will continue her education by embarking on a career in medicine at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine Tucson.