Presidentially Recognized

Standout DVM candidate Alexandra Awad receives 2023 Tufts University Presidential Award for Civic Life
Woman with long curly brown hair receiving an award from a smiling man wearing glasses, suit and tie. They are shaking hands.
Alexandra Awad, V24, receives her 2023 Presidential Award for Civic Life from Tufts University President Anthony Monaco. Photo: Paul Rutherford

Alexandra Awad, V24 (she/her), a third-year DVM candidate at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, is one of 22 outstanding students to receive a 2023 Presidential Award for Civic Life from Tufts University at a ceremony held April 28 on its Medford campus.

Established more than 20 years ago, the award recognizes the University’s most remarkable graduate and undergraduate students with its highest honor for outstanding service, leadership, and civic engagement. Among this year’s 10 graduate and 12 undergraduate students, Awad is the only Cummings School representative among the recipients from nine Tufts schools.

A co-founder of Cummings School’s student chapter of the Latinx Veterinary Medical Association and a catalyst for Spanish language instruction on campus, Awad recently received the prestigious Patricia M. Lowrie Diversity Leadership Scholarship from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, selected as the lone recipient of the $6,000 award among veterinary students from 54 accredited veterinary medical colleges worldwide.

As associate dean for diversity, inclusion, equity and climate, Dr. Flo Tseng (she/her) has worked with Awad on the Tufts Veterinary Council on Diversity. “Ms. Awad has been the primary driver for a series of Spanish communication elective courses for pre-clinical and clinical students at Cummings School,” says Tseng. “These courses were focused on Spanish language skills targeted for working with Spanish speaking clients. Since these courses have started, Spanish-speaking clients in our community care programs already feel empowered and more comfortable when seeking veterinary care for their animals.” 

“It’s an honor to receive the Presidential Award for Civic Life,” Awad says. “When I created the Spanish courses, my goal was to support students who wanted to better communicate with Spanish-speaking clients. I’m amazed by the courses’ impact on our community, and grateful that we recognized the need for language learning to improve patient care and outcomes.”

Awad looks forward to putting her enhanced language skills to use on her clinical rotations, which she recently began. “I am currently at Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic … and I’m excited to learn about the general practice and to help underserved pet owners and communicate with some Spanish-speaking clients.” 

A veterinary student’s ability to communicate with a diverse population of animal owners is crucial, says Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Nicholas Frank (he/his). “By creating a veterinary Spanish elective, Alexandra has given students an opportunity to learn a language spoken by many of the animal owners they work with, and this facilitates students gaining the cultural competencies they need for the veterinary profession,” he says. “Alexandra’s determination has led to a permanent improvement in the DVM program offered by Tufts.”