Young Alumna Dr. Emily Calasanz’s Grateful Generosity Benefits STEM Students at UST
OBGYN doctor and University of St. Thomas alumna, Emily Calasanz ’10, has only been out of the School of Medicine, Texas Tech University Health Science Center and residency at UT Southwestern for a few years, but she is already paying it forward for future UST students who are interested in STEM careers.
Calasanz, is a young alumna, who gives her time, talent and treasure to St. Thomas. In recent years, she has given donations in support of Biology, Chemistry, the William Tinnerman Scholarship and St. Basil Collection Fund. In her free time, she volunteers through the UST Medical Alumni group to mentor STEM students and help pre-health students prepare for mock interviews.
“I know I am out of college for only 10 years or so, but I don’t want to wait until I retire to start giving back,” she said. “I am not yet married with children, so it is easier to prioritize supporting my alma mater now."
UST: Where Opportunities to Succeed Abound
Calasanz cites her wonderful UST education, the personalized attention she received from her biology and chemistry professors and scholarships, including from donors Carol and Odis Peavy, as the reasons for her success in her chosen career.
She attended UST on a scholarships and earned a B.A. in Biology with enough credits to have earned a minor in Philosophy. She was in the Honors Program and had the opportunity to begin research projects with Biology Professors Maia Larios and Rosie Rosell.
While earning her degree, Calasanz participated in the DeBakey Summer Surgery Program, which only takes a small number of students nationally. The program is for students who are interested in a medical career. Being assigned to a cardiothoracic and transplant surgeon at Methodist Hospital helped reaffirm medical school. While in the DeBakey program, she also got to visit with the DeBakey sisters – Selma and Lois — who were pioneers in scientific communications. “Talking to these legendary women was huge for me,” she said.
Calasanz’s Testimonial on the Value of a UST Education
“I had a phenomenal education, and that is why I feel it is so important to give back,” she said. “I am 100% positive that I would not have been as successful without the opportunities afforded to me at St. Thomas. My education taught me how to be a good student, develop a set of skills to navigate medical school and have discipline. The Catholic formation guided me to appreciate the human person and understand that people approach situations differently.
“Through St. Thomas, I got to know my professors on a personal level. I loved going to Dr. [Bill] Tinnerman’s (chemistry professor) annual parties at his home in Anahuac. Chemistry Professor [Tom] Malloy took us to a conference in Salt Lake City, where we presented our research findings. My research with Drs. Rosell and Larios gave me the opportunity to have the DeBakey experience and get into a great medical school.”
Calasanz had another special opportunity. With fellow pre-health UST students, who called themselves “HOPE” — Healthcare Opportunity for People of El Salvador 2009 — Calasanz went on a medical mission trip to El Salvador.
“The trip was part of a really exciting year for our class, and every student worked hard to fundraise and network to get donations for the trip, even for medical supplies,” Calasanz said. “We spoke at churches asking for donations, had several bake sales, solicited donations from community physicians and Medical Bridges.”
Distinctions: Outstanding Biology Student & Mardi Gras Queen
Calasanz graduated as the Outstanding Biology Student in 2010 and earned the title Mardi Gras queen as a student who represented faith, service and academic excellence. At the Mardi Gras gala, she personally thanked scholarship donors, including the Peavys, and let them know she was on her way to medical school “because of their generosity.”
“I didn’t have a huge debt to pay back. My scholarships at St. Thomas set me up to exit medical school without significant debt,” she said.
In gratitude, Calasanz’s parents, who saved for her college, gave generously over the years to support future UST students.
New Distinctions - Teaching
Calasanz notes that her grandfather was a doctor, a psychiatrist. She chose OBGYN as her discipline and said, “OBGYN can be a demanding field, but so gratifying. Obstetrics is special. The schedule is tough but there is something powerful about being the first person who holds new life before mom and dad. Every delivery is different.”
She works for University of Texas Medical Branch in Friendswood. Along with seeing patients, she is a member of the clinical assistant faculty and invites medical students and medical residents to join her in gynecology surgery.
Gratitude: An Invitation to Give Back
Calasanz says “I am blessed to have made life-long college friends at St. Thomas. My UST class was very special, and we bonded. All of us who applied got into the graduate school of our choice.”
Given the impact of her experience, Calasanz encourages her fellow young alumni to give back to UST when possible, so the next generation of STEM students have the opportunities to succeed in life and their careers.