Meet the recipient of the University Medal, honoring a graduating senior demonstrating academic distinction, outstanding character and extracurricular community impact
Alythia Vo '22
Growing up in a family of immigrants, Alythia Vo was often the bridge between her older relatives and solutions to the difficulties of daily life in America. Seeing how hard it could be for her Chinese grandparents to navigate the health system, as well as how meaningful it was anytime a doctor showed empathy and understanding, Vo dedicated herself to studying medicine and how to end health care disparities.
“It really shaped the direction I wanted to go,” she says. “Navigating those challenges really opened my eyes to all the barriers immigrants face in this country.”
Vo is graduating with bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences and Spanish language, literatures and cultures. A member of the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College, Vo is ending her University of Maryland career with a 3.98 GPA. Following a gap year conducting research, she plans to pursue medical and Master of Public Health degrees.
As an undergraduate research assistant at UMD, the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, Vo worked on projects such as child mortality in Mali and the impact of COVID-19 on the contraceptive and reproductive care of Spanish-speaking women in Baltimore. Vo was also a health policy intern with the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and a community outreach worker for Latinx populations in Langley Park, Md., for a COVID-19 vaccine trial at the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health.
Vo volunteered for community health clinics and initiatives as well as the university’s Food Recovery Network and Campus Pantry and the Capital Area Food Bank in D.C. She was a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and Vice President for Student Affairs’ Student Advisory Council, and president of the Asian American Student Union and Taiwanese American Student Association.
“There are some people who seem to manufacture time in which to do more than most of us could even attempt. Alythia is one of those people,” says Robert Chester, a senior lecturer and interim director of U.S. Latina/o Studies in the Department of American Studies. “Alythia is a fine example of a young American, the child of immigrants, who is unflinching in her desire to employ her talents for the betterment of those around her.”