By Wendy Sarubbi | April 7, 2014 2:54 pm

Three College of Medicine students were recognized with the Order of Pegasus March 31, the university’s most prestigious student award. Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences undergraduates Catherine Gutierrez and Amelia Mackarey and M.D. candidate Avianne Bunnell were among 20 UCF students selected for the prestigious honor.

Undergraduate students are chosen for Order of Pegasus each year based on their outstanding achievement in the areas of academic achievement, university involvement, leadership and community service. Graduate students are selected based on the same merits as well as publication or research experiences.

The names and a picture of the inductees will be added to the wall showcasing past and present Order of Pegasus recipients in the Pegasus Lounge located on the second floor of the Student Union. Inductees also receive commemorative medals, scholarships from the Student Government Association and lifetime memberships to the UCF Alumni Association.

Gutierrez maintains a 3.96 grade point average as a double major in Biotechnology and Microbiology & Molecular Biology in the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. She has been extensively involved in biomedical research while at UCF, has several pending publications and last summer did digestive and liver research at the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Metabolic and Liver Diseases.

As part of a STEM Initiative Program, Catherine also participated as a research intern at Sanford-Burnham Research Institute and more recently was involved in the UCF College of Medicine FIRE Module program isolating a cell line related to insulin resistance.

Gutierrez is also an achieve volunteer, working with Shepherd’s Hope, Orlando Regional Medical Center, Florida Hospital East, American Red Cross, Give the Kids the World, Relay for Life, and organized a HIV/AIDS Barbecue for over 100 children born with HIV/AIDS. She has been accepted into multiple medical schools, including Harvard and UCF.

Mackarey is a double major in two vastly different majors – microbiology and literature. As Dr. James Campbell, associate professor and director of graduate programs for the Department of English wrote in her nomination, “I find it remarkable that a student who is pursuing a pre-medical degree and actively engaged in activities that will help to make her an excellent medical student and physician is still able to maintain her status as a stand-out literature student who engages with abstract and philosophical questions while also grappling carefully with texts… Amelia has demonstrated a remarkable ability to balance what I imagine must be a very precarious and demanding work load.”

Mackarey is also active in volunteer work. As head of the Health and Wellness branch of HERO (Honors Education Reach Out), she works with honors students who volunteer in medical outreach programs across the community. She volunteers at Orlando Health and Shepherd’s Hope and has worked with Achieve a College Education, which helps to introduce the goal of college to underserved fifth-graders in Orlando. A LEAD and National Merit Scholar, Mackarey works as a National Merit Scholar Ambassador for UCF Admissions, helping to recruit more outstanding students to the university.

An accomplished musician, Mackarey was awarded a Paderewski Gold Medal, which is given to pianists who compete in annual National Guild Auditions for 10 consecutive years and achieve a superior rating in each of their performances. She plays the piano at charity events and at local nursing homes. She also learned recently she will do a summer internship at the National Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Bunnell will graduate in May and will then do her residency in vascular surgical at the Medical University of South Carolina. An outstanding student, she is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society and was the sole recipient of the medical school’s covered Excellence in Clinical skills award during her third year.

A skilled researcher, Bunnell was the national first place award winner of the annual Starr Poster Contest for Medical Students and Residents at the Annual American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress. She helped to begin the College of Medicine’s chapter of the Student National Medical Association and was selected as the group’s chairman of the National Community Service Committee. There, she represents more than 150 chapters of the SNMA. “Her leadership skills have been recognized and cultivated on the national level, even at an unusually early stage of her medical training,” wrote Dr. Marcy Verduin, the medical school’s associate dean of students in her nomination. “Avianne is one of the most talented and gifted medical students, and I am truly amazed by all that she has accomplished…and always with a positive attitude and a smile.”

Bunnell has also worked to increase diversity in medicine. She helped plan last year’s the Florida Alliance Student Symposium on Health Professions at the College of Medicine, to help prepare underrepresented high school, college and graduate students for careers in medicine. She also served as the sole student representative on the executive board of the Florida Alliance for Health Professions Diversity and also served as the M-3 liaison for the college’s global health student organization. “I have no doubt that she will make a difference not only in her patients’ lives, but also as a leader in the medical profession,” Verduin wrote.

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