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Vaccination volunteering earns Dao 2021 Dean’s Service Award

Pacesetter BSN student Oscar Dao
Pacesetter BSN student Oscar Dao
Pacesetter BSN student Oscar Dao
Pacesetter BSN student Oscar Dao

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students who will graduate August 13 from Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth made a huge difference in helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. One of them is Oscar Dao, who received the 2021 Dean’s Service Award for community outreach and professionalism while volunteering at the UT Physicians COVID-19 vaccination hub.

As a nursing student, Dao wanted to do his part in COVID-19 prevention efforts, so he volunteered five hours per week for the entire Spring 2021 semester.

“Given the pandemic, it was difficult to watch the news and see all the suffering being endured by patients and medical staff as intensive care units were filling and becoming overcrowded. As a nursing student, I felt like I was on the sidelines because we weren’t permitted to treat COVID-19 patients, so I jumped at this opportunity to do my small part,” Dao said.

Dao explained that the most meaningful part of the experience was speaking with fellow Houstonians and learning about their lives during this pandemic.

“The most memorable moments I experienced were providing both the first and second doses to the same individuals, most of whom recognized me! One person was so thankful, he expressed, ‘It may seem like a small act to you, but you are providing a great service in bringing peace of mind to me and the rest of Houston.’ That conversation sticks with me today, and I hope to encounter future wholesome interactions like that in my nursing career,” Dao said.

In February, when winter storms caused sweeping power outages, the UT Physicians vaccination hub reopened as soon as it could. “I was unable to study because my neighborhood had also lost power, so I happily made the drive to work a shift during this period,” Dao said.

"Oscar Dao has been a standout amongst his peers," said Kimberly Alleman, MBA-HM, BSN, RN-BC, CLSS-BB, director of nursing and patient care services for UT Physicians. "While assisting our team with vaccinations, he acted as a mentor to other nursing students and always advocated for our patients. There is no doubt that he is a natural leader and will go far in nursing."

“Oscar exhibited outstanding professionalism while volunteering at the vaccination hub,” said Dean Diane Santa Maria, DrPH, MSN, RN. “His dedication to increasing community access to the vaccine set a great example for us all.”

Before starting his BSN studies at Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth, Dao received his BA in biology from the University of Texas at Dallas.

You can get COVID-19 vaccines from various locations through UT Physicians. View participating locations and schedule an appointment.

Merve Erten

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