For Immediate Release

Contact: Andrea E. Garcia, Touro University California
Associate Vice President, University Advancement

W: (707) 638-5272
C: (707) 280-8771

TUC Celebrates Public Health Heroes at 12th Annual Awards Ceremony

Students and community members honored for making communities healthy and just places to live.

Vallejo, CA (April 9, 2019): On Wednesday, April 3, Touro University California’s (TUC’s) Public Health Program hosted its 12th Annual Public Health Hero awards ceremony recognizing students, alumni and community members for their commitment to reducing health disparities and promoting social justice through their community leadership and service. 

“We in the TUC Public Health Program were so pleased that we could celebrate National Public Health Week by honoring students, an alum, and a community member who are actively working to build safe, healthy communities, both here in Vallejo and around the globe.  The honorees’ commitment to their work inspires us to continue the struggle for social justice and health for all.”—Dr. Elena O. Lingas, Interim Director of the Public Health Program.

TUC students Daniyal Ahmed, MPHc, MSPASc and Nicolas Amarante, MPHc, MSPASc were honored as the 2019 Global Student Health Heroes for their work in Greece where they are assisting Syrian refugees with a safe transition into refugee camps. Ahmed and Amarante keep watch over the rocky coast and notify rescue services when they spot an incoming dingy. They stay with refugees providing basic goods and tea, and playing with the children before transportation comes to take them to refugee camps. Amarante will graduate from TUC this May, after which he hopes to pursue a career in primary care serving the underserved both at home and abroad. Ahmed, also a May graduate, hopes that his humanitarian and medical contributions can aid in bridging the gap between all individuals and lead to the  betterment of our worldwide community. 

The 2019 Community Health Student Hero awardee was  Garrett Hall, MPHc for his capstone project assessing the potential impact of Medicaid work requirements on African-Americans. While at TUC, Hall focused on improving the public health of immigrants and the underserved by organizing rallies and actions around Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and gun violence, and co-authoring a resolution passed by the American Medical Association opposing Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE’s) ability to enter hospitals. Today, Hall works as a Health Policy Analyst at the Insure the Uninsured Project in Sacramento. 

Class of 2017 Graduate Kwiana Algere, MPH was honored as the 2019 Alumni Hero for maximizing community health and wellness through educational programs and health initiatives. After graduating, she worked with Black Infant Health and the Contra Costa County Health Disparities Department to improve African-American infant and maternal health, decrease health and social inequities, and provide services to the community through support aimed at empowering people and promoting positive growth. She is currently coordinating the Adverse Childhood Experience Resilience Summit which is part of the Resilient Solano Strategic Plan. 

In addition to honoring the contributions of students and alumni, TUC also awarded Isabel Reyes, Founder of the Eric Reyes Foundation, with the 2019 Community Service Hero award. Since establishing her Foundation after the untimely death of her son in 2016, Reyes has worked with the Vallejo Police Department to remove guns off city streets by reinstating the Gun Buy Back program and, through her Foundation, provided supplies to local schools and scholarships for high school students. She also launched the first Hispanic Heritage Celebration in Vallejo last fall and will continue serving and advocating for individuals, youth and families because she believes that with the help of each other, anything is possible. 

Attendees heard from Keynote Speaker Mike McLively, J.D., Director of the Urban Gun Violence Initiative at the Giffords Law Center. An expert on gun policy and urban gun violence, McLively oversees an effort to use policy mechanisms to support and promote evidence-based violence intervention strategies aimed at preventing gun violence in the country’s most impacted communities. He regularly speaks to state and local leaders on the need to address the day-to-day shootings fueling the gun violence epidemic and has examined the critical role of state-level support in breaking the cycle through his book, Investing in Intervention

Awardees also received Certificates of Special Congressional Recognition and California State Legislature Recognition from Congressman Mike Thompson, Assemblymember Tim Grayson, and State Senator Bill Dodd. Presenting respectively on behalf of Congressman Thompson and Assemblymember Grayson were Mel Orpilla and Jana Modena. These certificates recognize the Heroes’ initiative, dedication to promoting public health, and their service to the larger public.

About the Touro College and University System:

Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro has 35 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Illinois, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and Touro University Nevada; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: