Class of 2020 alumna Dr. Stephanie Ayala has been selected to serve as president of the Burrell College Alumni Association (BCAA). Dr. Ayala will represent the three graduated classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022. As president, Dr. Ayala will work closely with the board of trustees and the College’s supporting foundation to provide resources and networking opportunities for Burrell College alumni. Dr. Ayala was a member of Burrell College’s inaugural class of osteopathic medical students who graduated in May of 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July of that same year, Dr. Ayala began her residency training in Emergency Medicine at Baystate in Springfield, Massachusetts. “Training during a pandemic is nothing any of us could have prepared for,” says Dr. Ayala. “It’s all parts amazing, sad, difficult, rewarding. We have a very sick patient population where I’m training, and critical care is a regular part of our daily work. It has definitely prepared me well for post-residency employment, which I’m looking forward to.” Before attending Burrell College, Dr. Ayala earned her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York – Albany. In addition to her undergraduate degree, Dr. Ayala came to Las Cruces as a certified EMT-P, an emergency medical technician paramedic, with years of working experience in the field. Dr. Ayala continued her role as a paramedic for American Medical Response even while she completed her medical education. Dr. Ayala chose osteopathic medicine after working as a medical scribe, working with both MDs and DOs in hospital and clinic settings. “The DOs just had a different, warmer, more ‘whole picture’ approach that was in line with my own goals for being a physician,” recounts Dr. Ayala. After deciding which educational path she wanted to forge, Dr. Ayala chose Burrell College because of its mission and values. “I wanted to serve the Latino and indigenous communities and learn medicine in an area where healthcare was largely lacking/needed,” she says. Dr. Ayala is grateful for the learning experiences and the community she gained while at Burrell College. “Burrell is a very unique and special place,” says Dr. Ayala. “I think it’s best suited for individuals with a bit of a service-focused mentality. There are a ton of opportunities to support the surrounding communities through service work while learning medicine at the same time. It’s a beautiful area to train in and the Southwest offers unique cultural and environmental aspects of medicine that aren’t present everywhere.” While studying at Burrell College, Dr. Ayala was selected for the 2020 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award was launched in 1991 by the Gold Foundation, the parent organization of Burrell’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS). The Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) is a nationally recognized organization that awards students, residents, and faculty who are exemplars of compassionate patient care and who serve as role models, mentors, and leaders in medicine. “Dr. Ayala is well respected by her peers, faculty, and staff, and served as a great mentor and advocate for her fellow classmates,” recalls Brett Newcomer, Director of Student Life at Burrell College. “Dr. Ayala was one of the most active students during her time at Burrell, participating in many of the College’s community volunteer efforts, student organization initiatives, and research. Due to her outstanding efforts, Dr. Ayala was recognized as the Class of 2020 recipient of the Gold Humanism Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. This award recognizes graduating medical students who demonstrate both clinical excellence and outstanding compassion in the delivery of care, and who show respect for patients, their families, and healthcare colleagues. Congratulations, Dr. Ayala, on her new role as alumni president!” Dr. Ayala is grateful for the experiences she had as a student at Burrell College, particularly the hands-on learning opportunities she was provided during her clinical rotations. “My mentors were actively involved in pushing me to be a better thinker and learner,” she recounts. “During my clinical years, I benefited largely from training at nonacademic institutions. If there was a procedure or unique experience for learning, I was first in line.” Dr. Ayala credits her decision to pursue a career in medicine to her mother. “When I reflect on it, the seed was planted early by my mom’s path,” she says. “She raised me as a single parent which necessitated bringing me to school and work. At that time, and now, my mom is a superhero who takes care of others. She was a huge influence on my path, but the catalyst was also working in an environment surrounded by mentors who encouraged me to push further.” Victoria Pineda, Vice President of Advancement for the Coalition for Osteopathic Excellence and Executive Director of the Burrell College Alumni Association, is looking forward to the contributions Dr. Ayala will bring. “Dr. Ayala is a perfect example of a Burrell College medical student; she is driven, compassionate, community-minded, and has consistently gone above and beyond for herself and others, both academically and non-academically. She has all the qualities of a great leader and will be an essential part of the Association’s decision-making process.” The Burrell College Alumni Association will launch in mid-January, 2023, and all graduates and impending graduates are encouraged to join. Membership is 100% free and will allow members the opportunity to participate in virtual alumni focus groups, networking opportunities, and access resources related to hiring opportunities at Burrell College’s affiliated hospitals and healthcare systems. Members will receive information related to the Alumni Association via an Alumni Newsletter sent directly to their e-mail inbox. To join the alumni association, click here.