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PURCH Trailblazer Award

What is a Trailblazer?

A trailblazer doesn't just develop something new—a trailblazer prepares the way for others to follow.

A trailblazer sees potential and continually seeks opportunity and improvement.

A trailblazer takes initiative, is willing to go where no one has ever been, to do what no one has ever done.

A trailblazer leads the way.

The Trailblazer Award

Dr Deirdre Buckley 2022 Trailblazer Award CompassThis annual award recognizes a 4th year or graduating PURCH student who epitomizes the following characteristics through their actions and/or the trail they blazed.

  • Personal qualities of strength, courage, and resilience
  • Relentless in their pursuits while also embracing—and learning from—failures or setbacks
  • Carves new paths towards success for themselves and others and, in so doing, uphold the PURCH principles through inclusivity, humility, and excellence. 

Trailblazer Award recipients receive an engraved compass.

Inaugural 2021 Trailblazer Award

The first-ever Trailblazer Award was presented to our entire inaugural cohort of students. These 19 students had an instrumental role throughout their entire four years as co-creators of the Population-based Urban and Rural Community Health track.

PURCH Class of 2021 at UMass Chan Graduation  

Andrew Boylan, MD

Colton Conrad, MD

Juliana Dixon, MD

Kirstin Lee, MD

Wendy Ma, MD

Poornima Manikantan, MD

Elisabeth McGovern, MD

Caleb Noone, MD

Kathryn Norman, MD

Afua Nti, MD

Emily Nuss, MD

Tatiana Petrovich, MD

Prithwijit Roychowdhury, MD

Laura Schwartz, MD

Alay Shah, MD

Daniel Wenzel, MD

Kevin White, MD

Amanda Whitehouse, MD

Wanlu Xu, MD



2022 Trailblazer Award

Deirdre Buckley, MD

PURCH Class of 2022 Graduate, Deirdre Buckley MD

Deirdre Buckley, a future OBGYN, worked to develop unique research opportunities with Dr. Elizabeth Peacock-Chambers in the Department of Healthcare Delivery and Population Science that combined her love for women's health with her interest in opioid abuse and populations who are usually marginalized.

She helped bring opportunities at Planned Parenthood to PURCH students doing rotations in Springfield, and hosted events to support PURCH's emphasis on social and structural determinants of health. Buckley also led Med Students for Choice and the OBGYN interest group at the main UMass Chan Medical School campus. Beyond that she has been a compassionate classmate, providing mentorship and professional development advice to students in all PURCH classes.