Amanda Nguyen, who is graduating with a degree in global disease biology and a minor in social and ethnic relations, is the 2020 recipient of the College Medal. She grew up in the Bay Area but found community in Davis and Sacramento, where she was inspired by all of the people she met through her work.
As the manager of the Willow Clinic, which provides free care for people experiencing homelessness in Sacramento, she learned that the clinic is a critical space not for passive charity but for active solidarity. Over the past three years she started new initiatives, obtained grants and led advocacy efforts focused on promoting harm reduction and patient care.
For the past four years, she worked in Distinguished Professor Earl Carsten’s lab studying the neurophysiology of itch. She studied psoriasis under a National Psoriasis Foundation grant, was an author on two publications and presented at the international conference of the Society for Neuroscience.
In the summer of 2019, she spent six weeks in Mishima, Japan, as a research intern at the National Institute of Genetics, where she identified areas of the brain involved in the aversive memories of itch.
Nguyen’s undergraduate career has been a time of intense personal growth through diverse clinical, research and advocacy experiences. Within these spaces, she has found opportunities to express her love for the community and a passion for both medicine and research. After graduation, she plans to pursue both an M.D. and Ph.D.