MSBS Class of 2020 Awards

Even though we are all working and studying at home, this did not stop the MSBS Program from getting together at a virtual awards ceremony to celebrate the excellence we have seen this year. “In this time of chaos and uncertainty, you continue to rise to the challenge academically and professionally,” said Francina Towne, PhD, Director of the MSBS Program, as she spoke to students. “This time has also highlighted an aspect of your character that will go on to serve you well as you move forward toward healthcare education and practice and that is your resilience.”

Clinton E. Adams, DO, FACHE, President and CEO, sought to inspire the MSBS Class of 2020 with a personal story: “My daughter, who graduated from the MSBS program at Western University, is now in the final months of her Internal Medicine Residency and is on the front lines of this COVID-19 assault. She is prepared now to meet that challenge and remains fully committed to her professional vows of caring for those in need. She is looking forward to you joining the healthcare team as we continue the time-honored tradition of caring for those in need.”

Before honoring the students, Dr. Towne announced that there was a surprise award. “We would like to honor someone who has been an integral part of the MSBS program from its inception,” she said. “Without his guidance, expertise, and constant support, this program would not be what it is today.” The first-ever MSBS Super Supporter Award went to Thomas N. Told, DO, FACOFP, dist., Dean of RVU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Dr. Told accepted the award with the following remarks: “I was honored to be a part of the establishment of the MSBS program. You got us out of the box really quickly. We became a university and we aren’t going to look back. As you move on to your future careers as healthcare professionals, there will be a myriad of different things you will go into. We look for you to come back and help us with leadership and maybe even as part of our faculty. You know my passion is that you will carry with you the feelings of humanity and compassion to serve all of our people, whether it be in the direct line of medical care or in the support roles of administration or research. We look forward to hearing great things from [MSBS Class of 2020] as we go into the future.”

The ceremony then moved on to honoring the MSBS Class of 2020 with a presentation of the following awards:

The MSBS Humanitarian Award was awarded to Vladimir Cardenas Colmenares, a student who exemplifies the qualities of graciousness and humility, advocates for social justice, and works for the betterment of all members of their community.  “He has truly demonstrated extraordinary compassion, generosity, kindness, and service in action,” said Joel Roberts, MD, Assistant Program Director. “Vladimir has gone above and beyond to provide for his class. He wrote and shared review questions for nearly every lecture. He and his wife deliver snacks for the classroom and during the pandemic [they] brought food for a sick colleague.” Congratulations, Vladimir!


The MSBS Service Award was awarded to Stephanie Gedney after a vote by the MSBS Committee. She gave an outstanding contribution to their class through her leadership, character, collaboration, and service in their curricular and co-curricular endeavors. Stephanie serves in the SGA as the MSBS Secretary and is known for reaching out to classmates who need assistance either through coursework or collegiality.  “Faculty and students alike have acknowledged her kind-heartedness in and out of the classroom,” said Rachel Linger, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology. Congratulations, Stephanie!

The MSBS Dean’s Academic Excellence Award was awarded to Adrianna Hammack, for her demonstrated academic excellence. The MSBS Committee voted to award this to Adrianna, who asks thought-provoking questions in every lecture and has even been known for looking like “the wheels are turning in her head” as she listens intently to everything.  Congratulations, Adrianna!

The MSBS President’s Award was awarded to Erin Herbstova, an outstanding student that embodies the University’s core values of integrity, collegiality, compassion, diversity, excellence, service, and innovation. The MSBS Committee unanimously chose Erin, the current MSBS President. Dr. Adams presented the award and said, “The faculty agrees that this student is exceptionally talented, exhibits outstanding leadership skills, and seems to be a unifying force in the classroom.” Erin deserves this award for not only going out of her way to maintain MSBS traditions like Thanksgiving lunch with faculty but has also helped create Facebook pages for incoming MSBS students to allow for early collaboration. We are so honored to have her as our Class President. Congratulations, Erin!

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