Graduate School Recognizes Student Wellness, Nursing Program Support, COVID-19 Volunteers & Graduates

By Amy Widner

The Student Wellness Center is made up of Director Puru Thapa, M.D.; Vicki Flynn, M.D.; Jim Holland, LSCW; Angie Moore, LCSW; and Matt Boone, LCSW. Administrative staff include Meshelle Helms and Lecretha Brown. Part-time clinicians for this year include Vanessa Freeman, M.D.; Cydney Grant, M.D.; Patrick Sassoon, M.D.; San Bui, M.D.; Megan Mueller, M.D.; Lee Isaac, Ph.D.; and Ruth Eudy, Ph.D.

Robert E. McGehee Jr., Ph.D., dean of the UAMS Graduate School, announced the award, acknowledging that recognizing a group was slightly different than the usual, but he felt it was appropriate given the center’s important role over the years and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Portrait of Matt Boone

Matt Boone, LCSW

“Under Dr. Thapa’s leadership, this group of individuals have been exceptionally helpful to countless graduate students,” McGehee said. “At a national level, the stress on students in successfully navigating graduate school has been increasing significantly for the last few years. The Wellness Center has been an incredible resource for individual students and groups of students, teaching stress-coping skills, dealing with the loss of one or our students, offering mindfulness seminars and working tirelessly with the Graduate School office and program directors. This partnership is a critical component that enables the UAMS Graduate School to have among the highest graduation rates in the country.”

The spring reception, which usually features a reception and award ceremony, is the largest of several events the Graduate School hosts annually to recognize faculty, staff, students and mentorship.

McGehee also gave Beth Ann West, an executive assistant in the UAMS College of Nursing, the 2020 Administrative Appreciation Award. West has worked for the nursing Ph.D. program for many years.

“She has been an invaluable resource to students, from organizing welcoming receptions, recruiting events and grad faculty meetings – all while adding her own unique thematic approaches – to helping students get forms routed, signed and tracked, tracking faculty time and interfacing almost daily with the Graduate School.”

McGehee used the Graduate School Achievement Awards to recognize an ever-growing list of graduate students who have assisted during the COVID-19 pandemic, including COVID-19 testing at UAMS, COVID testing at the Arkansas Department of Health, and development of a COVID ELISA antibody assay for detection of serum antibodies: Susie Brown, Shana Chancellor, Katelynn Doiron, Amanda Dragan, Michael Eledge, Laura Ewing, Samantha Huckuntod, Clay Littekin, Ryan MacLeod, Tiffany Miles, Amairani Paredes and Nicole Turnage.

As is tradition at the spring reception, McGehee also recognized the mentor-student relationship for the students who completed their Ph.D. program in winter 2019, spring 2020 and summer 2020.

“Any completed Ph.D. represents countless hours between a mentor and student, and we always like to recognize the value of that relationship in addition to the sheer academic effort of completing a Ph.D.,” McGehee said. “Congratulations to all our graduates and mentors!”

The following is a list of honorees, in order by mentor, then student and program. Three names indicates co-mentors.