Campus: CSU Fullerton -- May 27, 2003

Future Doctor Who Aids in Rescues Receives Two of Cal State Fullertonšs Highest Honors

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 Fullerton¹s highest awards to a graduating senior.

The biological science major, who plans to become a physician, is the winner of this year¹s President¹s 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 following graduation.

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 Sheriff¹s 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 Technician.

An avid cyclist, Kaskowitz accompanies her parents, two brothers and sister on extensive family bicycle camping trips that she plans. The family¹s 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 to Mexico.

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 Dean¹s 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,² said Roshanna P. Sylvester, assistant professor of history at DePaul University, who had Kaskowitz in an honors class she taught while at CSUF. ³There 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 President¹s 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 university¹s 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 Engineering Building.

Media Contact: Dave Reid, Public Affairs, at (714) 278-4855 or <>

Photo: A high-resolution image of Sommer Kaskowitz can be downloaded from
the university¹s website at

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