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2023 Dr. Timothy George Trailblazer Award: Members of the Dell Med Community Reflect on Latest Recipients

May 5, 2023

The Dr. Timothy George Trailblazer Award was established in honor of our colleague and friend Timothy “Tim” George, M.D., who died in 2019. Today, the Dell Med Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is pleased to announce the 2023 recipients:

  • Ayisha N. Mahama
  • Mavis F. Coffman
  • Micah Secor

These Class of 2023 graduates were selected due to their commitment to increasing the representation of individuals from groups historically underrepresented in medicine, eliminating inequities in medical education and/or health care, and developing and promoting inclusivity in learning/work spaces. Their contributions will continue to impact Dell Med, the future of medicine and the health professions.

Below, faculty, staff, students and alumni share their thoughts on this year’s recipients.

Dell Med on the Latest ‘Trailblazers’

2023 Recipient Ayisha Mahama

From Munachismo Uzodike, rising fourth-year student:

Ayisha has dedicated herself to the Black community at Dell Med. She has helped with pathway initiatives that have included working with underrepresented undergrads to assist them in getting into medical schools, as well as volunteering for many admissions events. She develops relationships with students on a personal level. She has been a mentor to many, and she guides underrepresented students in their studying and career development efforts.

Ayisha served as the president of the Student National Medical Association and helped lead community service events and workshops that focused on raising more awareness on the issue of maternal mortality. These community service fundraisers helped raise money that directly went to the Austin community. Finally, as president, she helped ensure that our chapter was up to date to meet all national standards, and she served dutifully as house representative at our annual national meeting. Truly, without Ayisha, I would not have made it through my time as a medical student. She is more than deserving of this award.

From Cortney Matthews, rising fourth-year student:

Ayisha has been a guiding light for many students at Dell Med. In my first year she took me and other underrepresented students under her wing and gave us advice and mentorship as we embarked on our journey. In her field of interest, dermatology, she has done research and advocated for working with patients with darker skin tones and the health inequities they normally face.

Her presence as an African American woman navigating through predominantly white spaces has helped the students after her. I hope that she is recognized for the impact she has had while being a busy medical student here at Dell Med.

2023 Recipient Mavis Coffman

From Victoria Davis, staff member:

Mavis has spoken many times about her strong commitment to health equity, specifically when she talked with members of our team about her ILD evaluation. She elaborated on the importance of reflecting on bias and how it affects not only relationships between patients and clinical staff but also how — and even whether — patients access health care.

Working to address this issue, Mavis has been involved with a community engagement project that will result in a tool designed for clinical staff to reduce the stigmas surrounding HIV. To help construct this tool, she has worked with research on a validated tool used with patients to reduce their own biases and internalization of stigma. Her experiential learning project for her master’s in health care transformation also addressed the biases and discrimination potentially faced by another vulnerable population of patients — adolescents — and how to design a clinic that would meet their specific needs.

She was an integral part of the team, keeping their work focused on mitigating unintended consequences and promoting empathetic, nonjudgmental and equitable care. Finally, she has been a part of a team working on health equity tools and assessments for medical schools.

From Kristie Loescher, faculty member:

I worked with Mavis over three semesters on a major project for her master’s in health care transformation. Mavis’ team created a business plan for an adolescent health care integrated practice unit. One of the driving forces behind the need for specialized care for this segment is the distinct need around mental health support for LGBTQ+ youth. Mavis spoke often about her strong commitment to health equity and took leadership on her team around the research and planning for behavior health services as part of their IPU to promote empathetic, nonjudgmental and equitable care.

2023 Recipient Micah Secor

From Zameer Vaswani, Class of 2023:

In her four years of medical school, Micah worked hard to advocate for underrepresented groups within the medical field. In her tenure as a multiyear leader of the Latino Medical Student Association, she helped encourage her classmates to become more involved in the organization and has brought the Dell Med chapter to the national spotlight by serving as a national LMSA committee member for two years.

During this time, she helped represent the LMSA’s Southwest chapter and has provided key insight as to how the organization should be run on a national level. Furthermore, she has worked with many organizations within the community in order to help underserved members of the population access health care, including hosting medical screening events at the Mexican Consulate in Austin. Though soft spoken, Micah is a student who has always advocated for her patients and fellow classmates since day one of medical school, and her impact and reach will be felt around the Dell Med community for years to come.

From Scott Spivey-Provencio, rising fourth-year student:

Micah has actively pushed Dell Med to improve its pathway programs. She has shown true leadership and passion for diversity and equity through her dedication to the Latino Medical Student Association. In her time at Dell Med, she has served as the local LMSA chapter resident, national LMSA mentorship chair and national LMSA diversity chair — positions that actively seek to improve resources and opportunities to medical students, pre-med students and high school students who come from underrepresented backgrounds.

She has led meaningful projects at Dell Med to increase our connections to pre-med orgs at UT that support Latina/o/x, Black and first-gen students. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award in the current class than Micah.

About Tim George

A nationally renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and a professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at Dell Med, Timothy “Tim” George, M.D., touched countless lives in his work.

He was a founding member of the Austin Black Physicians Association and was passionate about and committed to the advocacy and mentorship of future medical professionals from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine.