Sonoran UCEDD Trainee Honored as a 2016 Outstanding Senior and Recipient of a Merrill P. Freeman Medal Award

May 31, 2016

Shivani Misra, Sonoran UCEDD trainee, was one of seven graduating seniors that were honored for their outstanding achievements during the University of Arizona's 152nd Commencement ceremony. The seniors were nominated by faculty and peers for awards, which collectively honor individuals with marked integrity and notable achievements, and who also made positive contributions to their families and communities while studying at the UA. 

Shivani, an Honors College student who received a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience and cognitive science, is a recipient of the Merrill P. Freeman Medal. Dr. Merrill Freeman was born in Ohio in 1844 and served the University of Arizona as a regent and as a chancellor. His will provided for two medals to be awarded annually to students selected by the UA administration. Qualifications include outstanding moral force of character, and additional factors which may be considered are: popularity, receipt of athletic awards, membership in organizations, and service on committees and as officers.

Shivani is a Flinn Scholar, a Galileo Scholar and the Most Outstanding Senior for both the College of Science and her home department. Her undergraduate degree has an emphasis in development and aging. She also has completed minors in public health and biochemistry, and completed the Sonoran UCEDD's Undergraduate Certificate in Developmental Disabilities.

Shivani is a first generation American who is passionate about making this world a better place.  She is interested in Maternal and Child Health and sits on the Board of Directors for the Southern Arizona Division of the March of Dimes.  She has conducted many social awareness campaigns; including one she organized in the slums of Odisha, India, to generate awareness about the importance of proper nutrition and folic acid intake during pregnancy.

Shivani aspires to decrease the stigma and eliminate the disparity associated with disability.  As a Sonoran UCEDD trainee, she taught Pilates and movement to students from the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, in addition to being a research assistant in Dr. Jamie Edgin's Memory Development and Disorders and Down Syndrome Research Group Labs.  There she completed her Honors Thesis about how inefficient sleep of infants with Down syndrome affects their language outcomes.  Additionally, she spent three months in Melbourne, Australia, conducting research at the Royal Children's Hospital.

On campus, she was an ambassador for the College of Science, Neuroscience and Cognitive Science, the Undergraduate Biology Research Program, the Pre-MD, and the Honors College.  Through these avenues, Shivani tries to bridge the gap between science and the community.  She has hosted outreach events and given presentations at various venues.  She helped create a peer-mentoring program within her major and helped set up the annual show, Symbiosis-an art showcase representing the coalescence of art and science.

Shivani is thrilled to continue learning and helping the world at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, where she will pursue a dual degree in medicine and public health.