JUNE 11, 2020 — First-year Top Scholar and Honors College student at UTSA Tristan Pepper has been named a participant in the Fulbright United Kingdom Summer Institute. The prestigious award recognizes promising first- and second-year students for their academic potential and ability to serve as a cultural ambassador to the United States.
The award will see Pepper travel to Scotland in summer 2021 to take part in the three-week program “Technology, Innovation, and Creativity,” hosted by Glasgow School of Art and University of Strathclyde.
For this particular award, the Fulbright United Kingdom Commission selects students who have limited overseas travel experience of four weeks or less and want their first abroad experience to be in the UK.
“In the moments following being named a Fulbright Scholar I remember being overcome with gratitude and appreciation for all those who have supported me along my academic journey,” Pepper said. “To be a Fulbright Scholar means to serve as a global ambassador and, given this immense opportunity, I intend to bridge the cultures between the U.S. and the U.K. in order to establish a greater understanding between the two in academic disciplines and cultural understanding.”
At UTSA, Pepper is part of the National Institutes of Health–funded Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Educational Diversity Program, which helps freshman- and sophomore-level trainees develop as scholars and scientists. Pepper spent his first year working in Teja Guda’s biomedical engineering lab and Lyle Hood’s mechanical engineering lab, receiving close mentorship in research and professional development.
Participating in the UK institute will allow Pepper to step outside of the lab at UTSA and learn about how research institutions and health care services operate overseas.
“I seek to understand the meaning of health care in the U.K. through study and experiential learning in order to better understand how the global community may blend privatized and socialized aspects of health care into one system. Likewise, I am very interested to see how U.K. and Scottish culture affect the ways in which research is conducted and how this may direct the concentrations of biomedical research at the University of Strathclyde.”
While he has focused on research in engineering, Pepper has made it a point to develop secondary areas of interest in educational policy so that he can learn about how it impacts research. As a freshman, he attended the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering two-day Public Policy Institute for Rising Leaders, where he was one of only two undergraduates.
He has since become a fellow with the organization, which is a position typically held by doctoral-level students. Through AIMBE, Pepper hopes to enlist a group of UTSA students to advocate to U.S. congressional members for more funding for research and education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
He cites his own experiences growing up in schools that did not emphasize the importance of STEM, relating it to the experience of students at schools who do not have access to the resources they need. “There is tremendous talent and ambition lying dormant within underprivileged school districts,” he said, “and it remains untapped.”
Kristi Meyer, senior director for special programs and student development in the Honors Collee, said, “Tristan is completely rewriting the rules for what a first-year student, even a high-achieving one, can accomplish as a Top Scholar. He is focused, intense and driven in his search for innovative and creative solutions to some of our world’s greatest health problems.
“In addition to his research he maintains membership in club sports teams, mentors with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Texas, volunteers with UTSA Alternative Breaks, and has recently created a nonprofit with three other UTSA students that aims to address inequities in STEM education. Truly he has shown that he will exceed whatever expectations I might set for him as a mentor, and he will consistently set higher expectations for himself.”
⇒ Explore studies in the Honors College at UTSA.
Pepper’s dedication to education is being noticed in Texas as well. In June he was named a student member to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board ApplyTX Advisory Committee, where he will serve from June 2020 to May 2022. The group provides advice on the common admission applications procedures and is made up of representatives from two-year, four-year and private institutions plus one nonvoting student member. The previous representative was an upperclassman from The University of Texas at Austin.
As Pepper prepares to begin his second year at UTSA, he has the support of numerous colleges and offices in addition to the ESTEEMED and Top Scholar programs. To prepare for his Fulbright interview, for example, Pepper worked with professor John Phillip Santos of the Honors College, who has extensive knowledge of U.K. institutions from his background as a Rhodes Scholar.
Andrew Chapman, director of Nationally Competitive Awards, said, “National Award winners like Tristan routinely draw support from faculty and staff mentorship from all over the university, whether that includes application advisement on a grant proposal, doing a mock interview, or helping to foster connections with researchers throughout the world. We are grateful for UTSA faculty and staff whose mentorship and inclusion of undergraduate students in their academic lives help our students get noticed on the national level.”
UTSA invites you to participate in our community altar by RSVP to this event. You can also use this link to learn more about Día de Los Muertos:https://anendlessconnection.weebly.com/the-project.html.Student Union Window Lounge, Main Campus
October 28th celebrates National Immigrants Day. On this day, we gather to explore the diverse heritage of our nation’s social fabric. We dedicate this day to understanding how our nation was founded and built by immigrants. Our goal is for the UTSA family to recognize and celebrate how all immigrants, regardless of their citizenship status, contribute to our community through their resiliency and ingenuity.Multicultural Student Lounge, HSU 2.207, Main Campus
The COLFA Advanced Career Pathways Workshops are focused on connecting your education with your career aspirations and exploring your pathways to reach your goal.Mesquite Room, Student Union, 2.01.24, Main Campus
The Westside Community Center will be creating an altar or "ofrenda" as many do within San Antonio and the Westside for "Dia de los Muertos." If you would like to participate, we invite you to send in a photo of a loved one that will be placed in this space. You are welcome to join us on October 28th at 3:00 pm to set up the space and come see us at the Westside Community Center.UTSA Westside Community Center, 1310 Guadalupe St., San Antonio, TX 78207
Blueprints For Pangaea is hosting its first on-campus inventory event of the semester! Join us for a Halloween-themed afternoon where we'll inventory medical supplies while enjoying Halloween movies. By the end of the event, you will have positively impacted the health of hundreds of individuals. We require at least one hour of attendance and come dressed up because the best costumes will earn awards.Flawn Sciences Building, 3.02.02, Main Campus
Chris Villanueva and other jazz faculty will perform standards in this concert. More details to come. The Fall 2021 concert schedule is subject to change. Please continue to monitor our website and social media for updates. This concert will be live-streamed via the UTSA Music Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/UTSAMusic When:UTSA Recital Hall, Main Campus
UTSA Sustainability will have three courses of varying difficulty to accommodate different ages and abilities. There will a one mile walk on generally level surface to introduce you to the student run community garden, a longer walk with stairs and topo changes, and a five mile bike ride to introduce you to the Leon Greenway.Tito Bradshaw Bicycle Repair Shop Ximenes Ave, Main Campus
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