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Class of 2022 Awards

The Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine is announcing its second annual student and faculty awards in honor of the graduation of the Class of 2022. This year’s eleven recipients include eight members of the Class of 2022; two faculty members; and one spouse of a graduating student. Read on to learn who the awardees are and why they were selected for recognition.


President’s Award: Thomas Szamocki

Thomas Szamocki, OMS-IV

This award is presented by John Hummer, president of the Burrell College, to the student with the highest GPA in the pre-clinical years of medical school (first and second year).

 Thomas exemplifies hard work and determination. During his time here at Burrell College, he has dedicated himself to his studies and achieved the highest GPA of all his cohort. We are incredibly proud of him and look forward to his future successes. – President John L. Hummer

This award will always remind me of my time at Burrell. I will forever appreciate the support of my professors and preceptors in New Mexico and am looking forward to beginning my career as a physician alongside my amazing classmates and friends! – Thomas Szamocki, OMS-IV

Logan Foster, OMS-IV

Dean’s Award: Logan Foster

This award is presented by Bill Pieratt, DO, dean of the Burrell College, to the student who had the highest number of honors in clinical rotations.

Logan consistently distinguished himself with his performance on clinical rotations, earning the distinction of Honors on each of his core clerkships. We know he will continue to hold himself to a high standard and represent Burrell College well after he graduates. – Dean Bill Pieratt, DO

I am honored to be the selectee of the Deans Award for the class of 2022. I am humbled by the confidence and generosity shown to me by my preceptors. This award is truly a reflection of their mentorship and guidance. – Logan Foster, OMS-IV


Distinguished Student

Felicia Mix, OMS-IV

Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology: Felicia Mix  

 Felicia consistently demonstrated a passion and commitment to her anatomical education. Her curiosity about anatomy and how it underlies disease processes was ever evident. She is also an excellent teacher and will be an amazing physician.  Congratulations Felicia! – Nancy Minugh-Purvis, MD

This award symbolizes perseverance, community, and my excitement for medicine.  A subject that started out as my weakness turned into a deciding reason of why I picked the specialty of PM&R all thanks to the support and advocacy I received from the Department of Anatomy and Cell Bio throughout medical school. Thank you! ­­– Felicia Mix, OMS-IV

Jessica Bonilla, OMS-IV

Distinguished Student

Department of Biomedical Sciences: Jessica Bonilla

Jessica Bonilla’s selection for the Biomedical Sciences Department student award was based on her gracious character, success in the biomedical sciences as well as her exceptional professionalism.  Jessica demonstrated excellence in the areas of Biochemistry, Immunology, Microbiology, and Pharmacology in a longitudinal analysis of class performance.  In addition, she excelled in service as the Florida RAC Representative and as a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Jessica conducted research during her pre-clinical years in the area of infectious disease and conducted a quality improvement project in pathological sampling during a fourth-year research elective. We are proud of Jessica’s accomplishments in medical school and look forward to learning about her contributions to medicine as an Anesthesiologist. – Debra Bramblett, Ph.D., Chair of Biomedical Science

Thank you to the Biomedical Sciences department for this special honor. My academic performance and extracurricular pursuits were only made possible by the generous support of the Burrell College faculty and student community. This award is an acknowledgment of my hard work throughout medical school and it will continue to motivate me to excel throughout my career as an osteopathic physician. Thank you! – Jessica Bonilla, OMS-IV

Andrew Tucker, OMS-IV

Distinguished Student

Department of Clinical Medicine: Andrew Tucker

The Department of Clinical Medicine wants to proudly announce Andrew Tucker for the 2022 Distinguished Student in Clinical Medicine. Andrew has shown superb attitude, enthusiasm, and adaptability both in preclinical and clinical experiences. – Dr. Robert Goldsteen,

Every day before I start seeing patients, I tell myself, to take time to make a difference. Being nominated for this award means that I was able to make a difference in someone’s life, which is why I chose to pursue medicine in the first place. – Andrew Tucker, OMS-IV

Raymon Carabajal, OMS-IV

Distinguished Student

Department of Physiology and Pathology: Raymon Carabajal

I want to thank the Physiology department for laying the foundation of my clinical reasoning processes and the Pathology department for laying the foundation for my hypochondriasis. All jokes aside, this award means an incredible amount to me. I gave my heart and soul to learning this information in one of the most trying times of my life, and I can’t express the enormity of the gratitude that I feel for the recognition. ­– Raymon Carabajal, OMS-IV

The Department of Physiology & Pathology is pleased to recognize Raymon Carabajal as our Class of 2022 Distinguished Student. Ray’s performance in our disciplines was notable, both in our curriculum and on the COMLEX-1 examination. As part of the Medical Student Summer Research Program, Ray engaged in a project that sought to identify targets for cancer prevention by examining a component of mitochondrial processing of glucose into ATP. That Ray is also a “local” success story, hailing from Silver City, New Mexico, strengthens our enthusiasm for offering him this award. We are very proud of him and his match to an Internal Medicine residency where he will surely represent us and our institution well and continue to advance his knowledge and experience. – Kristin Gosselink, Ph.D.


Natalie, Nieto, OMS-IV

Distinguished Student

Department of Clinical Education: Natalie Nieto

Natalie Nieto was selected by the Department of Clinical Education for her compassion, accountability, and altruism during her 3rd and 4th year clinical rotations.  Several of the physicians described Natalie’s cultural awareness and compassion as the highest standards of behavior for a student doctor. In reading the feedback from preceptors,  you can’t help but be proud and recognize Natalie’s dedication and attentiveness to patients, and to the healthcare teams that surrounded her. Cultural humility invites medical professionals to recognize the limitations of our current knowledge, and Natalie demonstrated this trait in her clinical rotations, making a lifetime impact on all who surrounded her. Natalie was able to accomplish this not only in her 3rd year but throughout her 4th year as well. Congratulations from all Clerkship Directors and Staff in the Clinical Education Department! – Wendy Zuniga, Regional Academic Center Liason.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to be recognized as the Distinguished Student for the Department of Clinical Education. I am so fortunate to have learned from so many wonderful preceptors whose compassionate and humanistic patient care reflects the type of physician I aspire to be. As I strive to bestow the same compassion and empathy to patients and look forward to continuing to do so as I progress through my career as a future pediatrician, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this special honor and recognition by my peers. – Natalie Nieto, OMS-IV

2022 AOF/AAOA Donna Jones Moritsugu Memorial Award: Mikala Cooper, Partner of Austin Cooper, OMS-IV

This award was established in 1993 to honor the memory of Donna Jones Moritsugu, beloved wife of Kenneth P. Moritsugu, MD. Dr. Moritsugu, Former Deputy Surgeon General of the United States, is a physician and public health administrator and was also a member of the Foundation Board. While serving as Rear Admiral in the US Public Health Service, throughout medical school, and during practice, Dr. Moritsugu appreciated the many ways in which his wife “gave so much” and served as “the wind beneath his wings.” In partnership with the Advocates for the American Osteopathic Association (AAOA), the American Osteopathic Foundation extends this prestigious award to spouses officially nominated by Osteopathic Colleges/Schools of Osteopathic Medicine (COM/SOM) across the country.

This award represents the daily behind-the-scenes work of supporting a med student that has somehow amounted to 4 years while following my own career dreams in the field of dentistry. I would also like to quickly acknowledge the village of support people behind every physician graduating tomorrow no matter how big or small, you have helped them make this possible. – Mikala Cooper, wife of Austin Cooper, OMS-IV

Gary De Leon II, OMS-IV

Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion: Gary De Leon II

Dr. Gary De Leon embodies the kind of physician any medical school would dream of calling their own; somebody who sees the healthcare needs within their community, Dr. De Leon’s community, and looks at ways to be an advocate, a mentor, and a leader in medicine, particularly as it has to do with diversity, inclusion, and equity. Dr. De Leon started his medical journey with a background in teaching and will continue his journey as a teacher and physician, because as he said himself “I want to increase exposure to the wonderfulness of medicine, and allow students of any background the exposure necessary and helping hand to be accepted into different healthcare fields. – Miley Grandjean, Educational Specialist,  Interim Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion

I am honored to receive the Excellence in Diversity Award amongst so many amazing medical students. Enrolling in Burrell COM was great because part of our school’s mission is to increase diversity in the medical field. Being the first doctor in my family I understand how difficult it can be to find mentors in medicine and all that is needed is a helping hand and one person to say yes. Many of the projects I worked on during medical school was helping students from elementary to university do just that. I plan to do the same in my career so future students of any background can have one of the most rewarding careers. Thank you all again! – Gary De Leon II, OMS-IV

Sheeba Tano. DO

Presented by the Class of 2022

Best Clinical Science Teacher: Sheeba Tano, DO, Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine

A physician is only as good as their educators and mentors and that is what the next award represents. It’s hard to find anyone that influences students in a more positive way than the winner of this award. She is the embodiment of an educator, as she is someone who is so passionate about her teaching and the minds she is molding. She is a kindhearted, altruistic person, who consistently puts the needs of students first! Congratulations Dr. Tano! – Mahmoud Alnsour, OMS-IV, SGA President

It is truly an honor and a privilege to be recognized as the Distinguished Student for the Department of Clinical Education. I am so fortunate to have learned from so many wonderful preceptors whose compassionate and humanistic patient care reflects the type of physician I aspire to be. As I strive to bestow the same compassion and empathy to patients and look forward to continuing to do so as I progress through my career as a future pediatrician, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this special honor and recognition by my peers. – Sheeba Tano, DO

Cindy Funk, Ph.D.

Presented by the Class of 2022

Best Basic Science Teacher: Cindy Funk, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.” A true mentor is someone who empowers the people around them through not only the provision of knowledge but also the support to have faith in themselves. Our next award winner is someone that every student wishes every educator was like, someone who even at an administrative level can truly be there for each and every one of us. She is the embodiment of kindness and compassion and is someone I personally can thank for my successes today. Congratulations Dr. Funk! – Mahmoud Alnsour, OMS-IV, SGA President

Thank you, Class of 2022. It has been a privilege to be part of your education. I am so thankful for all of you and excited to see the positive impact you will have in the world! – Cindy Funk, Ph.D.