The UNM School of Medicine’s La Tierra Sagrada Society (LTSS) will honor 12 UNM medical students with merit scholarships this year totaling nearly $100,000 – more than twice the LTSS awards given in 2013. The scholarships will be awarded at a special dinner Sept. 30.

Sean Peterson, Class of 2015, was this year’s $15,000 Dean Endowed Scholarship Award recipient. He has served as a volunteer medical Spanish language interpreter in Green Bay, WI, and spent his third-year rotations polishing his Spanish in local clinics, including the Young Children’s Health Center, Clinica One Hope and the Albuquerque Opportunity Center. Peterson also is a tutor for the Clinical Applications of Spanish in Allied Health. “I believe in the role of disease prevention, long-lasting relationships, and the power of communication in healing,” he says. “I’m eager to practice family medicine and hope to work in underserved areas, where I feel the most good can be done.”

Joining Peterson are fourth-year medical students Sophia Stroud, Alyssa Dye, Anna Vesting, Felicia Taylor, Heidi Overton, Jamie MacArthur, Jessie Rodgers, Kwasi Addae-Mensah, Kaitlin Petranovich, Richard Collier and Lauren Coleman, each of whom were awarded $7,500 merit scholarships.

Spanish for The Sacred Earth, La Tierra Sagrada Society is the fundraising arm of the School of Medicine established in 1996 to support both exceptional medical students and practical community research projects.

“We were challenged by the medical school's dean Dr. Paul Roth this year to add 50 members in honor of the school’s 50th anniversary,” says LTSS President Holly Shipp Buchanan, EdD, UNM Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center. “The majority of our support comes directly from our generous alumni and faculty members. We’d like to see the community become more involved in advancing medical training and New Mexico’s future health and wellness, as well.”

LTSS is supported by approximately 70 UNM School of Medicine alumni, faculty and staff members, along with non-affiliated community members. LTSS also has support from two corporate members – Tricore Reference Laboratories and UNM Health System, with matching gifts from Merrill Lynch & Company, Inc., and Ricci, Porch & Company, LLC. Support includes financial assistance, fellowship and volunteerism. All annual membership donations go directly to benefit the School of Medicine through medical student scholarships and seed money for community research partnership grants. To date, the societyhas awarded more than $750,000 in medical student scholarships and community research grants.

For more information on the UNM School of Medicine’s La Tierra Sagrada Society, or the awards dinner, call 505/272-8085.