Texas A&M recognizes medical student for exemplary community impact
Luis E. Seija, a third-year medical student at the Texas A&M College of Medicine, is a recipient of the 2018 Margaret Rudder Community Service Award. The university-wide award recognizes students who have significantly impacted their communities through volunteerism. Seija is among six recipients earning awards of up to $500.
Seija attended the University of Texas in his hometown of Austin, Texas, where his passion for caring for marginalized populations was fostered. He promoted health literacy and campus outreach efforts, such as translating and producing Spanish-language materials on birth control and emergency contraception for the Healthy Sexuality Peer Education program.
Seija continues to be engaged at the College of Medicine at the local, state and national levels. Through organized medicine, he represents the interests and concerns of medical students and our most vulnerable, including children and minority populations, drawing from a shared reality to determine policy priorities and direct advocacy efforts on their behalf in the pursuit of health equity. He maintains leadership positions within the Texas Medical Association, American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics.
Seija’s service involvement is also international, participating in medical missions and service-learning opportunities throughout Latin America and India. Under a new curriculum, College of Medicine students are able to individualize their medical education to their interests. This allowed him to create a four-week, student-initiated elective in Guatemala, where he worked alongside local organizations in rural and urban community development projects. With each return stateside, his resolve to attend to the needs of his own community strengthened.
Seija regularly volunteers with Feed My Sheep, a free pediatric mobile clinic that serves the rural children of Central Texas, and Martha’s Clinic, Texas A&M College of Medicine’s affiliated student-run free clinic. In Fall 2017, he developed the Aggie Health Project: Hepatitis C, which addresses a disparity in available preventative services by providing hepatitis C screenings at Martha’s Clinic. He raised $5,100 to implement and facilitate the program by applying and securing community service grants like the Texas Medical Association Foundation Student Community Leadership Grant and American Medical Association Section Involvement Grant. For patients that screen positive, a partnership with the Department of Gastroenterology at Scott & White Medical Center – Temple was established, creating opportunities for care and cure.
The Margaret Rudder Endowment Program, established in 1997, awards funds annually to students who exemplify volunteerism on a continual basis. Named after the wife of Texas A&M President James Earl Rudder, the program highlights her commitment to the betterment of the university and community at large. Her ideals of service and integrity are recognized through these awards.
“I am quite honored to have received this award, as it exemplifies what Mrs. Rudder stood for—service to others to improve our society,” Seija said. “It’s very inspiring to be recognized for my volunteerism, health care is one of the most immediate ways for a person to make a difference in another person’s life.”