Downstate Students Among 2023 Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence (CASE)

By Office of the President | May 1, 2023

Joanna Eichler

Joanna Eichler, 2023 CASE Awardee

Congratulations to COM students Joanna Eichler and Alana Engelbrecht, who are among more than 190 SUNY students at 63 campuses who recently won the Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence—the highest honor bestowed upon a student by the University—that recognizes students for outstanding academic achievements, leadership, campus involvement, community service, and the arts.

Joanna Eichler is a fourth-year medical COM student who graduated from Cornell University in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science with High Distinction. There she majored in human biology, health, and society. Her passion for medicine brought her to Downstate, where she discovered her love for internal medicine, medical education, mentorship, and patient advocacy. Joanna hopes to work in academic medicine and with an underserved patient population.

Joanna demonstrated academic excellence at Downstate, ranking in the first quartile of her graduating class. She is a recent inductee to Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society. She earned a Distinction in Foundations of Medicine for work in her preclinical years; and Honors in Medicine, Surgery, Primary Care, Women’s Health, Psychiatry, Neurology, Pediatrics, and her Internal Medicine Sub-internship.

Since 2020, Joanna has held many leadership roles, including interviewing College of Medicine applicants and submitting recommendations to the Admissions Committee. She has served as an officer on various executive boards, including Downstate’s Association of Women Surgeons chapter. She is secretary for Downstate’s Internal Medicine Interest Group, organizing events for students interested in internal medicine.

Joanna also served as a Power and Privilege Workshop Facilitator leading discussions among Downstate’s first-year medical students on the importance of recognizing social identities, the impact of one’s privilege or marginalization in society, its influence on health outcomes, and the importance of patient advocacy. She participated in training sessions focused on implicit bias, oppression, and its implication on patient care.

In 2022, Joanna served as Clinic Officer for the Anne Kastor Brooklyn Free Clinic, where she oversaw clinic volunteers, guaranteeing the successful operation of the clinic, including ordering lab tests, recording medication prescriptions, and sending referrals for patients. She also conducted patient outreach and served as an outpatient telemedicine volunteer during the height of the COVID pandemic to ensure patient access to their primary care physician for appointments.

Alana Engelbrecht is a fourth-year COM student who graduated from Haverford College in 2016, where she completed a Biology major and a Spanish minor. She graduated with Honors in Biology and received a Bachelor of Science. While applying to medical school, Alana co-led volunteer efforts at a free clinic in the Bronx, NY and worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Mount Sinai and NYU Langone hospitals. During her time as a COM student at SUNY Downstate, Alana has actively participated in student government while pursuing her medical education and research interests.

As a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) Honor Medical Society, she was elected by her peers to serve as Vice President for the local Downstate chapter. Alana received Honors in her Pediatrics, Neurology, Internal Medicine, Surgery, Primary Care, Neuro-ICU, Pediatrics Sub-Internship, Pediatric Hematology/Oncology, Pediatric Endocrinology, and Pediatric ICU rotations. 

In 2020, Alana received the Alumni Summer Research Fellowship Grant for translational COVID-19 research and continued this project beyond the grant period. She assisted with blood sample collection, PBMC isolation, serum separation, and PCR assays for neutralization studies. She also created a REDCap database and conducted chart and literature reviews. As the first author, Alana submitted an abstract regarding lactation counseling to the 2023 PAS and APA Conferences. She also co-authored an abstract studying neonatal syphilis that was accepted to the 2023 St. Jude/PIDS Conference.

Alana has served on student government each year at Downstate, having been elected by her peers. Alana helped to initiate collecting, communicating, and troubleshooting curricular concerns with both students and faculty. She also co-led a medical education initiative facilitating third-year medical students’ transition to clerkships. Additionally, Alana co-led a Resident as Teacher program where fourth-year medical students facilitated discussions with residents about best practices in incorporating them into clinical education.

As Vice President and President of the Downstate Street Medicine Outreach Association (DSMOA), Alana led multiple outreach events for those experiencing homelessness in the surrounding neighborhood. She expanded the leadership committee to broaden their impact and spearheaded these efforts while restarting the DSMOA after its hiatus during the pandemic’s peak. 

At the Brooklyn Free Clinic, Alana served as a Senior Volunteer, providing free medical care to community residents while mentoring and teaching first- and second-year medical students. She was inducted into the Gold Humanism Medical Honor Society in 2022.

Tags: Awards