Alyssa Escobedo — who is graduating with a 4.0 GPA and is one of the top students in the Department of Sociology with a major in Care, Health & Society and a minor in Spanish — is the recipient of the SBS Outstanding Senior Award for fall 2023. The award is given to a graduating senior from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences with a record of outstanding achievement, a history of active citizenship on campus and/or in the community, and a demonstrated capacity for leadership.
“Many things set Alyssa apart. She has consistently demonstrated a pattern of service to our campus and Tucson community,” wrote Carrie Langley, director of Care, Health & Society. “Her record of academic excellence is outstanding and … she did so while working to build her professional portfolio for her doctor of podiatric medicine application. Her capacity for leadership is superior. She mentors peers in the field, in the classroom, and in academic activities, and she brings a calm and empathetic voice to people experiencing homelessness.”
“I feel honored to receive this award,” Alyssa said. “I would like to acknowledge that my academic success and accomplishments would not have been possible without the endless support I have received throughout my academic career. I am so thankful to the dedicated leadership within the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences for their guidance and to my family, for their countless sacrifices that have allowed me to attend this program.”
Over the summer, Alyssa applied for a job as a medical scribe in hopes of gaining more exposure to medicine. Being placed in a podiatry clinic was not her first choice, but she decided to go in with an open mind and “became immediately inspired.”
Alyssa says it was in the clinic that she had the opportunity to see how the treatment of foot conditions can restore a person’s quality of life.
“Healthy feet are often taken for granted, but many fail to realize just how debilitating painful feet are for enjoying life!” Alyssa said.
Alyssa — an emergency medical technician, member of Chi Omega, and first-generation college student — chose her major as a complement to the science courses required for admission into medical schools. She says Care, Health & Society has equipped her to address health inequities and effect positive change while looking through a compassionate lens.
“I believe that it takes so much more than a proficiency in science to become a compassionate healthcare provider,” Alyssa said. “Care, Health & Society has allowed me to study important social dimensions of healthcare such as population disparities and barriers to medical treatment. I believe I am better prepared to think critically, practice empathy, and ultimately change lives because of my experience with this program.”
In addition to tutoring student-athletes with C.A.T.S. Academics, Alyssa has dedicated the past two and a half years volunteering with Z-Mansion, an organization founded in 2002 by Reverend Tom Hill and his wife, Emmeline, as a barrier-free center for feeding and caring for Tucsonans experiencing homelessness. Alyssa began by handing out clothing and meals. She then enrolled in Z-Mansion’s Community Care Course, earned a certificate, and was later chosen as a preceptor for the class. She guides student simulations, supports critical inquiry, and continues her demonstrated record of peer mentorship. Hill, who is also an adjunct instructor with Care, Health & Society, selected Alyssa for the role.
“Alyssa has spent countless hours working directly with the homeless and is a true friend to so many women on the street,” Hill said.
“I will always be grateful for the opportunity to learn from Tom and Em Hill,” Alyssa said. “These instructors were instrumental to my personal and educational development over the past three years.”
In spring 2023, Alyssa participated in a Spanish-language immersion study abroad in Barcelona, Spain, where she stayed with a host family and, ultimately, added to her effectiveness in her role as a medical scribe. “The program helped tremendously, in my ability to transcribe patient-provider exchanges and care plans,” Alyssa said.
Making an impact won’t stop for Alyssa after graduation. She has submitted her application to various podiatric medical schools and will take the MCAT exam in January.
“I am constantly inspired by the resilience of community members who are marginalized from society,” she said. “I hope to continue my work with underserved populations after college, and hopefully as a podiatrist in the near future.”
She says has non-academic plans in the works, too.
“I hope to see as much of the world as possible,” Alyssa said. Studying abroad awakened my passion for travel and I do not plan on stopping anytime soon. Greece and Portugal are next on my bucket list!”