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Black Student Association Honors Outstanding Student Leaders

2023 BSA Award winners are: Top row, from left, Briana Alston, Mia Lewis, Bianca Jackson, Siham Sherif. Bottom row, from left, Savannah Bush, Charlotte Isabel, and Alainee Miller.

Since 1992, the Black Student Association (BSA) Awards Ceremony has honored student leaders from each of the colleges at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, as they move toward graduation.  

Seven outstanding students were recognized at this year’s awards ceremony Friday, February 17, at Collage Dance Collective in Memphis. Shanea McKinney, PharmD, an alumna of the UTHSC College of Pharmacy and senior clinical adviser for Cigna, was the keynote speaker. The event was supported by the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor.

“I am honored to serve as adviser to the Black Student Association and support the success of students here at UTHSC,” said Dustin Fulton, EdD, assistant dean for admissions in the College of Medicine. “The annual BSA awards ceremony is always such an inspirational moment, as it gives hope for the future of health care given the impact we know our students will make within their respective disciplines. I couldn’t be more proud of them!” 

The students honored are:

College of Dentistry: Briana Alston

As a student in the dental hygiene program in the College of Dentistry, Briana Alston has demonstrated outstanding professional and community service. Prior to enrolling at UTHSC, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from Middle Tennessee State University.

She was elected by her peers to serve as vice president of Community Service for the dental hygiene class of 2023. In this role, she has helped facilitate community service efforts for her class. Her volunteer efforts include Love Thy Neighbor, a weekly food service for Shelby County citizens in need. She has also volunteered with dental service events, such as Give Kids a Smile, Mission of Mercy, Red Door Urban mission summer festival.

Alston is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. After graduation, she plans to remain in Memphis and practice dental hygiene. Ultimately, she hopes to relocate to Texas.

College of Dentistry: Mia Lewis

Mia Lewis, a native of West Memphis, Arkansas, attended Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. An honors student, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in biological sciences. She aspired to have a successful career in dentistry.

Lewis was raised by her mother after her father’s passing, and has two younger sisters. Her mother instilled the importance of education in her at a young age. Lewis has prospered throughout her academic career. During her time at Arkansas State University, she maintained a work-study job, volunteered at the campus’ food pantry, and served as a peer mentor.

As a student in the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program, she has participated in various student organizations, such as the Student National Dental Association, serving as the secretary. She has also served as a teacher’s assistant in the pre-doctoral operative laboratory and conducted research. She has volunteered at oral health fairs and visited local schools in Memphis to educate students about careers in health care.

Lewis hopes to inspire young girls with the message that they can be anything they aspire to be with hard work and discipline. After graduation, she plans to work as a general dentist for a few years and later pursue an orthodontics residency.

College of Graduate Health Sciences: Bianca Jackson

Bianca Jackson has pursued health outcomes research using evidence-based insights to inform health care access and delivery across various therapeutic areas.

She is pursuing a PhD degree in health outcomes research and policy with an emphasis in health informatics. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in health systems management from the University of Memphis.

She has experience in qualitative and quantitative research, clinical research, health technology assessment development, and evidence evaluation, analysis, and synthesis. Her dissertation research focuses on the use of machine learning to predict lung cancer risk using EHR data.

Jackson served as a student representative on the Graduate Student Executive Council. She is praised in her college for the energy she brings to her work that inspires colleagues, faculty, and staff. After graduating, she plans to go into consulting in health economics and outcomes research.

College of Health Professions: Siham Sherif

Siham Sherif, a third-year Master of Occupational Therapy student, is known across her department for her academic excellence, professionalism, and commitment to the community. She has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout the program, while also participating in many leadership and volunteer activities.

Prior to becoming a student at UTHSC, she founded and was president of the Eritrean-Ethiopian Student Association (2019) at the University of North Carolina, was a tutor in a Gross Anatomy lab, and was a supervisor of facilities and operations at the UNC Campus Recreation Center.

Sherif has demonstrated excellence in scholarship. She and several classmates presented a poster at the 2022 Tennessee Occupational Therapy Association Annual Conference titled, “Effects of Sensory Intervention on Neurological Development in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: A Critically Appraised Topic.”

She is a board member of the Rachel Kay Stevens Therapy Center, a student-run pro-bono pediatric clinic for uninsured or underinsured Tennesseans. She served as the secretary of the Delta Zeta Chapter of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation’s honor society, Pi Theta Epsilon. She also served as a gross anatomy teaching assistant, providing support to occupational therapy and physical therapy students.

She volunteers at the Memphis Islamic Center, where she has helped set up and run community health fairs, COVID vaccination events, and dinners for families in need during Ramadan. She is also a youth head soccer coach.

College of Medicine: Savannah Bush

Savannah Bush has distinguished herself in outstanding academic achievement and community service. She serves on the Wellness Committee, a student-led group that helps students manage the responsibilities of medical school in a healthy way. She shows compassion to fellow students as the Class of 2023 Aid for Impaired Medical Students representative and as a member of the Diversity Coalition.

Bush represents the College of Medicine as a member of the Organization of Student Representatives (OSR). Through her work with OSR, she provides input to the Association of American Medical Colleges and its Council of Deans, impacting the medical student community at UTHSC and across the nation.

Bush works with student leaders to select speakers for the Inspire Series, which invites notable physicians to share their passion and drive for medicine, with an emphasis on humanism and mentorship. After graduating in May, she plans to begin residency in pediatrics and hopes to have a career in medical education.

College of Nursing: Charlotte Isabel

Charlotte Isabel will graduate in May, earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree with a concentration is pediatric acute care.

During her time in the DNP program, Isabel has worked as a registered nurse at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as a relief staff leader. She has been highly involved with nursing organizations and serves as the Tennessee Nurses Association District 1 president-elect and a student ambassador with the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.

In 2022, she was nominated as a rising nurse leader in Tennessee. Isabel is interested in becoming a sexual assault nurse examiner and is enrolled in online coursework through the College of Nursing.

Throughout the program, she has remained a top Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner student.

College of Pharmacy Alainee Miller

A native Memphian, Alainee Miller graduated from the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmaceutical science from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Miller is a fourth-year Doctor of Pharmacy student who demonstrates leadership, professionalism, and a commitment to patient care. She is also completing coursework toward a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Memphis, which will be awarded in May.

During her time at UTHSC, Miller has been an effective leader, serving as the Pharmacy Student Government Association president (2021-2022) and the Pharmacy Student Representative of the UTHSC Executive Committee. Miller has helped many new student pharmacists navigate professional school during the pandemic.

Miller has been awarded the Tennessee Diversity Scholarship in 2019-2020, 2020-2021, and 2021-2022, as well as the Chancellor’s Diversity Scholarship in 2022-2023. She was also the recipient of the Virginia Eoff Scholarship in 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023.

Miller works as an intern at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, where she is conducting research on factors of Pseudomonas aeruginosa resistance in pediatric patients. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a PGY-1 residency with her practice areas of interest including infectious diseases and emergency medicine.

BSA honorees accept their awards during the annual ceremony: From left, Bianca Jackson, Briana Alston, Alainee Miller, Charlotte Isabel, and Mia Lewis. Not Pictured are Savannah Bush and Siham Sherif.