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MCOM Student Natasha Ram earns USF Health Culture Coin from Dr. Charles Lockwood

MCOM Student Natasha Ram earns USF Health Culture Coin

For demonstrating compassion and advocacy in aiding a homeless individual during a recent cold snap, Natasha Ram, a student in the MD/PhD program in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and director of the USF Health Tampa Bay Street Medicine Continuity Clinic, has been awarded a USF Health Culture Coin from Charles Lockwood, MD, dean of USF Health and executive vice president of USF Health. 

“This is the heart of what we do. It is a privilege to be able to celebrate Natasha’s actions by awarding her with a USF Health Culture Coin” Dr. Lockwood said. 

Natasha Ram is surprised by Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dr. Lynette Menezes and Dr. Gopal Thinakaran entering a conference room and shakes Dr. Lockwood's hand.

(l-r) Natasha Ram is surprised by the apperance of Dr. Charles Lockwood, Dr. Lynette Menezes and Dr. Gopal Thinakaran shortly before Ram received a Culture Coin.

The Street Medicine Continuity Clinic was holding its Saturday morning clinic at the Tampa Hope Shelter of Catholic Charities when a Spanish-speaking man arrived seeking a place to escape the cold. Unfortunately, the shelter accepts unhoused individuals only on Tuesdays and Thursdays and had no extra occupancy. With assistance from her advisor, Lynette Menezes, PhD, Natasha persuaded the shelter to provide the man with a tent so he would have some protection from the elements. Her efforts brought tears of joy to all involved. 

Natasha Ram and Dr. Kira Zwygart share a laugh in a conference room near windows.. 

Natasha Ram (left) and Dr. Kira Zwygart share a laugh after Ram was recognized with a Culture Coin. 

“She has the biggest heart,” said Dr. Menezes, who nominated Ram for the Culture Coin.

Kira Zwygart, MD, associate dean for MCOM’s Office of Student Affairs, added, “Natasha is a gem and is very deserving—not just for this particular action but also for her consistent care for our homeless community.” 

“In addition to being a compassionate clinician in training, Natasha is an amazing young researcher in the lab,” said Gopal Thinakaran, PhD, the CEO of the Byrd Alzheimer's Center and Research Institute and professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine. “She is certainly a rising star. I’m fortunate to be her research mentor.”

After being awarded the Culture Coin, Natasha described the experience as “absolutely surreal.”“To have people in my corner recognizing the hard work I’m doing, it makes me feel so special,” she said. “I do everything because I’m so passionate for my research and my patients.”

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About Health News

USF Health News highlights the great work of the faculty, staff and students across the four health colleges – Morsani College of Medicine, College of Public Health, College of Nursing and Taneja College of Pharmacy – and the multispecialty physicians group. USF Health, an integral part of the University of South Florida, integrates research, education and health care to reach our shared value - making life better.