Rajput chosen as Augustana's Lincoln Academy Student Laureate

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Mohamed 'Zak' Rajput of Aledo, was selected as the Augustana College Student Laureate for the 2008-09 academic year. The Lincoln Academy of Illinois annually awards a Student Laureate Award to one student from each Illinois college through a faculty committee and honors their academic achievements.

Rajput is a senior at Augustana College, majoring in biology with a minor in political science.

During his college career, he has served in multiple leadership positions with the Student Government Association, the Augustana Chemical Society, and the General Education Committee while maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. He also has participated in multiple research programs at Augustana, the University of Iowa, and Baylor College of Medicine and presented his findings at both international research conferences and in journal publications.

In August 2007, Rajput served with UKUN, a Tanzanian non-governmental organization providing home-based care and educational outreach sessions to individuals susceptible to, and living with, HIV/AIDS. These experiences have strongly impacted him, he said.

"Gaining an understanding of the numerous factors involved in access to health care and prevention of disease reaffirmed my belief that accessibility to basic, life-supporting healthcare is a fundamental human right often deprived from those living in developing countries like Tanzania," Rajput said. "Prior to my trip to Tanzania, my experience with those suffering from HIV/AIDS was almost non-existent, and while my trip was short, the impact on my life has been profound."

Rajput said the combination of his research and volunteer experiences have led him to pursue a career as a physician in academic medicine, dedicating his efforts to clinical patient care, the education of trainees, and scientific inquiry addressing social disparities in accessibility to health care.

"These pursuits have helped me discover a calling in life: a passion to use the skills and education I employ in scientific research to help those suffering from extreme poverty and those historically deprived of access to sufficient medical care," he said. "In particular, I wish to become a physician engaging in research aimed at sustainable solutions meeting the needs of the underprivileged while also treating patients to meet individual needs and concerns."

Rajput feels honored to have been chosen to receive the Lincoln Academy Student Laureate Award.

"I am very humbled to have received this prestigious award," he said. "None of my accomplishments and accolades would have been possible without the continued support of my family, friends and faculty mentors at Augustana College."

Rajput received a Lincoln Academy Student Medallion, a certificate of achievement and a check for $150 in recognition of his outstanding achievements during a ceremony at the Old State Capitol and a luncheon at the Governor's Mansion in Springfield on Oct. 18, 2008.