The honoree takes part in the Commencement procession, a role that will go Friday to Alythia Vo, a major in biological sciences with minors in Asian American studies and Spanish language, culture and professional contexts.

The daughter of immigrants, Vo has seen with her own eyes the challenges that can sometimes overwhelm people crossing a new country and a new language. That’s why she has dedicated her time at UMD to addressing public health inequities and advocating for a more inclusive world.

Vo served as a community outreach volunteer for the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s COVID-19 vaccine trials, focusing on recruiting more Latinx participants. Using her Spanish skills, she briefed attendees on the COVID-19 vaccine as well as flu shots and free health clinics. She has also volunteered at the College Park Pregnancy Center and the Montgomery County Latino Health Initiative.

Vo has also worked as a research assistant at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Infant Mortality and Health Surveillance Study to assess the causes of infant mortality in Mali, and at Johns Hopkins Medicine to study the impact of the pandemic on Latin women’s access to contraception.

While on campus, Vo joined both the Taiwan American Student Association and the Asian American Student Union, serving as president of the latter in her senior year. She was a founding member of the APIDA Working Group on Social Justice, where she helped develop a list of critical issues facing Asian students and proposed several solutions. She was also the Recruitment and Community Outreach Chair for Omicron Delta Kappa.

“Alythia is a great example of a young American,” said Robert K. Chester, acting director of US Latina/o studies at UMD. “She is an asset to each of the communities she is a part of, a huge credit to the University of Maryland, and an outstanding example of how an education at UMD can be used beyond college to elevate the community at large.”

The finalists for the University Medalist were: