May L. Wykle, the Marvin E. and Ruth Durr Denekas Professor and dean of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, and Lee Ponsky, assistant professor of urology at the School of Medicine, were presented with alumni awards during Alumni Weekend and Homecoming 2009.
Every year, the Alumni Association of Case Western Reserve University selects a distinguished alumnus who has achieved extraordinary distinction in a career rooted in an education received at Case Western Reserve and who has provided meritorious service to the university.
New this year is the Outstanding Recent Alumni Award for a graduate of equal accomplishment who has been a member of the alumni community for 10 to 15 years.
Wykle is this year's Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. She is a nationally recognized expert in the field of geriatric mental health and has pioneered extensive research in this arena.
A three-time alumna of the university (FPB '62, '69, GRS '81), Wykle joined the university as a faculty member in 1969. She was the director of the University Center on Aging and Health and is a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the Gerontological Society of America. Her career has crossed many borders. She launched educational programs in Europe, Africa and Asia, including helping to start a master in science nursing program at the University of Zimbabwe.
"The work that she initiated in geriatric mental health becomes more important every year for our ability to care for an aging popula¬tion," says Laura Nosek, chair of the Alumni Association's recognition committee for the Distinguished Alumni and Recent Alumni awards.
In 2007, the university's Board of Trustees established the May L. Wykle Endowed Professorship.
Ponsky (MED '97) founded MedWish International in 1993, an organization that collects unused medical supplies for donation to third world countries. He founded the organization after seeing first-hand the need for medical supplies after volunteering in Nigeria.
MedWish was run on a volunteer basis until 2001, and today, it employs five people on a full time basis. This year, the aid group is on target to send out one million pounds of supplies to 80 countries.
Ponsky is an assistant professor of urology at Case Western Reserve's School of Medicine and is on staff at University Hospitals as director of the Center for Urologic Oncology & Minimally Invasive Therapy and co-director of the Institute for Surgery and Innovation.
He is currently helping his brother, Zac, on their most recent project, MedWorks, which helps provide organized health care for Cleveland's uninsured and underinsured. MedWorks has attracted more than 1,000 patients who pre-scheduled free appointments with physicians for various screenings. Ponsky's goal is to hold four MedWorks events each year, then help staff the city's existing free-care clinics with volunteer doctors to manage follow-up appointments.
In addition to the alumni awards, Alumni Weekend and Homecoming 2009 was an opportunity for the entire campus community to join together for several days of activities, events and networking. Watch a video featuring highlights from the weekend festivities.
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