Physiology Undergraduates receive UArizona Freeman Award

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Congratulations to Physiology Seniors, Marcos Gomez Ambriz and Ahmad B. Shahin, on being selected 2020 Freeman Award Winners. The Merrill P. Freeman Medal is named in honor of Merrill Freeman, who served the University of Arizona as a regent and chancellor. Qualifications for the award include outstanding character.

Marcos Gomez Ambriz, known as "Gomez," is a first-generation Mexican American student from Phoenix. Gomez, an Honors College student and Arizona Assurance Scholar, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in physiology and Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry. At the age of 20, his mother, Maria Teresa Ambriz, left her hometown of Michoacán, Mexico, for the United States. With the guidance of his high school counselor and advanced placement biology teacher – who both saw his potential in science, technology, engineering and math – Gomez applied to the University of Arizona.

Gomez has served the university as a chemistry and biochemistry ambassador, resident assistant in Árbol de la Vida and Honors Village, research assistant in Andrew Capaldi's laboratory, ASUA College of Medicine senator, Project Soar mentor, hospice volunteer and member of the Student Affairs Policy and Research Policy committee. Exploring his interest in sports medicine, Gomez did a sports medicine internship with FC Tucson and worked as a physical therapy technician.

Motivated by his mother, Gomez devoted his college career to being a role model for and mentoring students like himself. Gomez has received various awards, including Chemistry and Biochemistry Student of the Month, the Silver and Sage Scholarship, the Wildcat Excellence Award and Dean's List with Academic Distinction. He also was a member of the 2019 Homecoming Court. 

Gomez is applying for a yearlong internship with an orthopedic surgeon and plans to attend medical school.

Ahmad B. Shahin, a first-generation Palestinian American, is graduating summa cum laude from the Honors College with a Bachelor of Science in physiology and a minor in Arabic. As a Baird Scholar from Tucson, Shahin has demonstrated his commitment to the underserved, the university and the greater Tucson community throughout his undergraduate experience.

Since his freshman year, Shahin has served as a volunteer mentor and translator to refugee youths at struggling local high schools through the La Frontera Youth Mentorship Program. In 2018, he traveled to India to support rural eye clinics and record sight-restoring surgeries as an intern for a nonprofit organization.

Shahin has worked both as a medical scribe at a urology clinic and as a research assistant in May Khanna's pharmacology lab, where he conducted research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and chronic pain. Shahin also helps Alzheimer's and dementia patients regain lost mobility and sharpen mental acuity as an intern for the University of Arizona Elder Rehabilitation Program. Shahin is a Center for Middle Eastern Studies Outreach Scholar, Raytheon Scholar and a finalist for University of Arizona Homecoming King.

After graduation, Shahin will pursue a medical degree at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine.

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