Gustavo Cornejo – who is graduating with a 4.0 GPA in Care, Health & Society with a minor in Public Health from the University of Arizona – is the recipient of the SBS Outstanding Senior Award for fall 2022. 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.
“If ever there was a determined and intrinsically motivated individual, it is Gustavo,” wrote Brian Mayer, professor in the School of Sociology, and Carrie Langley, director of the Care, Health & Society major. “Once in a while, you meet someone who you know is truly exceptional, they care, and you know they’ll make everyone and everything around them better."
Gustavo, who has an associate degree in Applied Sciences in Clinical Research, has been working in clinical research since 2018 and currently works full-time as a regulatory coordinator with University of Arizona Health Sciences. He also worked as a health educator for Cochise County Health and Social Services.
“Despite a grueling work and school schedule, Gustavo turns in his work on time and with great attention to detail," Mayer and Langley wrote. "Gustavo confronts his most challenging courses with equal parts hard work and genuine curiosity. He is an asset in the classroom, helping students and instructors clarify their intentions and ideas."
When Gustavo learned he received the Outstanding Senior Award he was excited. "I wasn’t expecting to be nominated," Gustavo said. "I've worked full-time while going to school, and to have those efforts payoff is an amazing feeling. I'm grateful that over the past two and half years I was able to get through my university courses with the support of all the staff, professors, and advisors. I also want to thank my mom and sister for their unconditional love, support, and encouragement."
Gustavo wanted to major in Care, Health & Society as it dovetailed nicely with his aspiration to be of service to others, whether it be in healthcare or in the community in general.
"I like that you can use the degree towards various things and all of them at the end relate to helping other people," Gustavo said. “Each one of us has the potential to change the world, with our skill sets, determination, values, and empathy."
Gustavo, who grew up in the border town of Douglas, said his father and mother emphasized the importance of helping others, and his family would help deliver blankets and assist with toy and food drives in Mexico, activities Gustavo still participates in. During the pandemic, Gustavo helped gather 60 baskets of food and household products for underprivileged people in Sonora, Mexico. He said his ultimate dream would be to start a charity.
In the future, Gustavo thinks it could be fulfilling to be an advocate for people in the healthcare system.
"I feel like there's a lack of health literacy and a lot of community members, especially if their primary language isn't English, need help understanding their options and available resources," Gustavo said. "We need to look at patients as people who are going through a difficult moment and, instead of creating more problems for them, help them navigate the healthcare system."
“Gustavo’s energetic perseverance is inspirational to all those around him," Mayer and Langley wrote. "His dedication to community, service. and health are evident in his actions and leadership. Gustavo is an outstanding student and will be an outstanding professional wherever his career may take him.”