Future Doctor Who Aids in Rescues
Two of Cal State Fullerton’s Highest Honors
May 27, 2003 :: No. 244
Sommer Kaskowitz, a young woman who is certified
to rappel from helicopters as part of search and rescue missions
and has compiled a record of community service that stretches from
Orange County to Honduras, is the recipient of two of Cal State
Fullerton’s highest awards to a graduating senior.
The biological science major, who plans to become
a physician, is the winner of this year’s President’s
Associates University Service Award, as well as the Miles D. McCarthy
Health Professions Award.
For the past three years, the Yorba Linda resident
has made annual visits to remote areas of Honduras with MEDICO,
an organization that provides free medical, dental, optometric and
educational services to people who have no basic health care. In
the medical clinic there, she assisted in foot surgeries, delivered
babies and treated patients for parasites and worms. Following a
crash course in dental medicine, she also pulled teeth and performed
other dental procedures. She will return to Honduras for four weeks
At age 23, Kaskowitz has had extensive experience
in search and rescue (SAR) activities. Since high school she has
devoted hundreds of hours to training and searching for downed planes,
finding lost persons in desert and mountain areas and assisting
in other emergency situations. She is a member of the Orange County,
Malibu, San Bernardino County and Barstow Sheriff’s SAR teams.
She has earned certifications in investigative man-tracking,
helicopter rescue, ham radio, trench rescue, high/low angle rescue,
maps/compass use, winter survival skills, mountaineering, land navigation
and Alzheimer patient rescue, and is a certified Emergency Medical
An avid cyclist, Kaskowitz accompanies her parents,
two brothers and sister on extensive family bicycle camping trips
that she plans. The family’s longest journey was a 66-day,
4,700-mile excursion from New York to Washington State to California
in 1999. They also traveled together on a seven-week trip from Canada
She is also a Big Sister/volunteer at Hollygrove Orphanage,
works with her church youth group, and is an Airman 1st class in
the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary. Kaskowitz has won
numerous awards and scholarships, has been on the Dean’s List
at Cal State Fullerton since fall 1998 and has conducted several
research projects. She has accomplished all of this while working
12-32 hours a week.
“In the classroom, on campus and in the community,
Ms. Kaskowitz is a leader,” said Roshanna P. Sylvester, assistant
professor of history at DePaul University, who had Kaskowitz in
an honors class she taught while at CSUF. “There is no doubt
in my mind that Sommer Kaskowitz will make a difference in the world.
She will surely excel as a major player in her chosen field. She
will be both a brilliant scholar and a wonderful role model for
other girls and young women.”
Kaskowitz plans to pursue a combined M.D. and M.B.A.
program so that she can establish her own medical practice with
a sound business background. She has been accepted at four medical
schools and is waiting to hear from four others.
Named for an esteemed founding faculty member, the
Miles D. McCarthy Health Professions Award is presented annually
to the outstanding health professions student who demonstrates high
academic achievement, integrity and a commitment to serve humanity.
The President’s Associates University Award honors a graduating
senior for outstanding service to the community.
Kaskowitz will receive her awards, which include cash
prizes totaling $2,000, at the university’s Honors Convocation
Friday, May 30. The next day she will be recognized at universitywide
commencement ceremonies and at the exercise for the College of Natural
Sciences and Mathematics, which follows on the lawn west of the
||Dave Reid, Public Affairs, at 657-278-4855
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