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Rising UMMS physician/scientist one of 29 Who Shine in Mass.

Jennifer MacDonald earns state higher education award for community service, academic achievement

By Sandra Gray

UMass Medical School Communications

May 01, 2014
   Jennifer MacDonald

The Massachusetts Department of Education has named UMass Medical School student Jennifer MacDonald one of “29 Who Shine” for her exceptional commitment to community service and outstanding academic achievement. MacDonald will be recognized by Gov. Deval Patrick for her contributions to the commonwealth at the fourth annual “29 Who Shine” student recognition ceremony on May 8 at the State House.

“I am humbled to be chosen as one of the 29 Who Shine. Students from all three schools at UMMS are some of the brightest, most dedicated people that I have met and being chosen to represent this group is an incredible honor,” said MacDonald, who in June will graduate with dual doctoral degrees, an MD and a PhD in neuroscience.

The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education launched “29 Who Shine” in 2011 to recognize outstanding students from each school in the commonwealth’s public higher education system. Nominated by their schools, each honoree is a Massachusetts resident who has made an outstanding civic contribution to the state and intends to remain in the commonwealth upon graduation.

A Connecticut native, MacDonald has been a Worcester resident since she enrolled at Clark University. In her first volunteer experience while at Clark, one which continues to this day, she responds with a team of volunteers to attend to the immediate needs of community members who have been affected by a house fire or other disasters as a member of the Disaster Action Team of the American Red Cross of Central Massachusetts. While at Clark, she served as the chairperson of the Clark University Brothers & Sisters program that matched more than 100 Clark mentors with neighborhood children. MacDonald has also volunteered as a grief support counselor at the Carriage House, a program of Children's Friend, Inc. of Worcester that provides peer support grief groups for children who have had a parent die.

After commencing her graduate studies at UMMS, MacDonald developed a particular interest in the health of the Worcester community while volunteering at free health care programs and helping to establish a health clinic focusing on the needs of the African immigrant community. MacDonald also promotes teen driving safety through her involvement with the Injury Free Coalition for Kids of Worcester.

MacDonald has earned academic recognition including the Rose M. Sachs Award, the New England Institute of Chemists’ Outstanding Biochemistry Student Award and the Thomas M. Dolan Award. As a student representative on the UMass Medical School’s Student Affairs Committee for six years, MacDonald has brought issues identified by students to the school’s leadership for suggested changes.

Among her many mentors at UMMS, MacDonald is especially grateful to Lori DiLorenzo, MD, instructor in family medicine & community health, who will also attend the awards ceremony.

“From teaching me the basics of medical interviewing to how to break bad news to patients, Dr. DiLorenzo has always been available to me with open ears and an objective viewpoint,” MacDonald said. “Her enthusiasm for medicine and her dedication to patients have served as a role model to me during my medical school training.”

Upon graduating from UMMS in June, MacDonald will leave Massachusetts for her residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia, but sees herself returning to the personal and professional communities she belongs to in Worcester. She plans to specialize in pediatric critical care, and continue her research on brain injuries. She would like her career to include a spectrum of activities including injury prevention, patient care and research to develop clinical treatments that lead to improved outcomes for children affected by brain injury.

“The Medical School has provided a wonderful training environment with top notch faculty who have served as role models and mentors,” MacDonald said. “I am very appreciative of those who have taught me and supported me throughout my eight years here and I look forward to rejoining them as a colleague when I have completed my training.”


Related links on UMassMedNow:
MLK Semester of Service Student Awards support local health projects
Newsmaker: Colleges of Worcester Consortium honors student volunteers
Two from UMMS receive Telegram & Gazette Visions Awards