Isabella Hernandez (Pharm.D., ’23) is the recipient of the 2021 UConn School of Pharmacy Student Service Award. This honor is given annually to a student or student group for their commitment to healthcare-related services and engagement outside of regularly scheduled service learning hours.
Even during the global pandemic, Hernandez has been busy over the past year engaging in and leading service-learning projects. In Spring 2020, she co-led Alpha Zeta Omega’s Philanthropy Committee events. This involved multiple presentations with topics including health disparities as a result of African and Caribbean diaspora, mental health, and prosthetics. These presentations were for students at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and Impact Academy.
Associate Clinical Professor of Pharmacy Practice Thomas Buckley acknowledges Isabella’s efforts and says “I have had the pleasure of being a preceptor for a number of Isabella’s health fair projects in the community. I marvel at her passion and dedication in reaching out to underserved communities, recognizing their crisis of health inequities, and finding ways to educate and advocate for them.”
Over the summer, Hernandez led student teams in collaboration with The National B.L.A.C.K Cooperative (TNBC). She organized the creation and presentation of posters promoting safe public demonstration practices for the TNBC Demonstrations in East Hartford and West Hartford. In addition to these efforts, C. Michael White, Head of Pharmacy Practice, says, “Isabella is a proactive member of the School of Pharmacy’s diversity committee and promotes a shared vision where the faculty and students take positive steps to assure we have a welcoming environment.”
This past fall, Hernandez served as Outreach Chair for Alpha Zeta Omega in collaboration with the Outreach Committee that includes fellow students Dylan Decandia, Hannah McCarthy, and Amanda Idusuyi. They made three presentations on Pharmacist Profession and Utilization for WAVE learning platform. These presentations provide insight on pharmacy as a profession, possible career paths, and public health as it relates to pharmacy. They continued their efforts to educate younger students by creating a puberty and hygiene presentation for a local Girl Scouts Troop.
Hernandez has also been involved in a variety of other projects, including translating and recording UConn Pharmacy videos in Spanish answering questions and misconceptions about the COVID-19 vaccines. “She was very concerned there were impediments and long delays in disseminating Spanish inclusive answers to burning questions about the COVID-19 vaccine, says White. “She signed up to translate numerous scripts that other pharmacy students were creating for COVID-19 vaccine videos into Spanish and has done a phenomenal job.”
Hernandez has also dedicated over 25 hours of volunteer work to the Hartford Health Care COVID-19 vaccine clinics as well as created informational material for the South Park Board Pharmacy Group on COVID-19 vaccines. Currently, Isabella still serves on the Alpha Zeta Omega Outreach Committee and is working on four service-learning projects set to end in April and May.