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Medical student Meme Tran honored as one of ‘29 Who Shine’

Date Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2019
By: Megan Bard UMass Medical School Communications

Meme Tran with her residency
envelope at Match Day in March.

Fourth-year medical student Meme Tran has been named one of the “29 Who Shine” in the commonwealth’s public higher education system. Each Massachusetts community college, state university and UMass campus selects one student annually to receive the award, based on his or her exceptional commitment to community service and outstanding academic achievement. Gov. Charlie Baker and Massachusetts higher education officials will honor Tran and her peers at a State House ceremony on Friday, May 3.

“I was genuinely taken aback when I found out I was honored as the UMMS 29 Who Shine recipient,” said Tran. “I cannot believe that I am going to be placed among other previous UMMS award winners whom I look up to and admire. I am both appreciative and grateful for this recognition and hope to continue fostering longitudinal relationships within the Worcester community.”

Sonia Chimienti, MD, associate professor of medicine, associate dean for student affairs and vice provost for student life and enrollment, said Tran has been dedicated to the campus community and beyond since her arrival at UMMS.

Tran is the daughter of a Vietnamese refugee who arrived in the United States shortly after the war. Growing up in Worcester, her immigrant parents encouraged her to pursue higher education. She did so, earning a Bachelor of Science in biology from MIT. She is a first-generation college graduate and will be the first in her family to become a physician.

As a medical student, Tran has established a strong bond with the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project, where she has served as a youth group coordinator, board member, teen mentor and school liaison since 2014. During her first year, she partnered with peers to develop a course for refugee youth meant to encourage youth leaders to continue to deepen their civic engagement and achieve full U.S. citizenship. In her second year, she focused on implementing wellness initiatives in a refugee youth program expansion. This year she has focused on creating a program to work with refugee youth leaders to “change the narrative about refugees and immigrants in Worcester.”

For each of these initiatives, Tran and her colleagues have received a UMMS Martin Luther King Jr. Semester of Service Award.

“To win one MLK Semester of Service award is an extremely impressive honor. To receive two awards in two consecutive years and a third in the space of four years is something I cannot recall happening in the past. This is a true testament to her commitment to serving her community and to improving the lives of others,” said Dr. Chimienti.

Additionally, Tran has held several student leadership positions at the university, including leader of the Southeast Asian Association, board member of the Learning Communities, and as a Student Interest Group Leader in emergency medicine and anesthesiology. She is also a volunteer at the Worcester Senior Center. In recognition for her compassion, humanism, patient-centered care and advocacy work, Tran was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society at UMMS in 2018.

Tran credits Peter Metz, MD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and the 2019 recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, for encouraging her strengths and supporting her academic and community efforts.

“Dr. Metz has been a phenomenal mentor to me here at UMass Medical School. He saw me beyond academics and supported me in my community service efforts with the Worcester Refugee Assistance Project and on my Capstone project. He is extremely resourceful and is able to connect me with other people in the community for various needs,” said Tran.

Following graduation from School of Medicine in June, Tran will begin residency training in emergency medicine at UMass Medical School/UMass Memorial Medical Center.

“Emergency medicine is truly a unique specialty that requires grit and passion. I enjoy learning how to take care of critically ill patients and connecting with patients and their families during difficult times. Additionally, emergency management requires teamwork and I truly admire watching ER techs, nurses, pharmacists and physicians working together toward the common goal of treating patients and saving their lives,” said Tran.


Meme Tran is a former student of the Matthews Lab.  For more about the Matthews Lab, please visit