Student Star: Shawn Hamm

Name: Shawn Hamm
Major: Biological Science

“I hope that I can inspire both my peers and underclassmen to work hard, serve their community through any opportunity that presents itself, step out of their comfort zone, and experience all that Florida State has to offer.”

While many of his peers from high school were focused on choosing other universities, Shawn Hamm, a senior from Cocoa, Florida, knew that FSU was the only place for him. Four years later, he realizes that it was among the best decisions he’s ever made. As part of a tremendous set of accomplishments during his tenure, Shawn has been selected as a Student Star as he completes his degree at FSU. He says that “the opportunities and experiences I have had at Florida State have molded my character and outlook on the future. I am so proud to be a Seminole!”

A senior majoring in Biological Science, with a double-minor in Chemistry and Lifespan Developmental Psychology, Shawn has achieved a significant record of academic success, being selected into multiple honor societies and serving on the Executive Board of both Tri-Beta, the Biological Honor Society, and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the Pre-Health Honor Society. With hopes of attending medical school in the fall, Shawn has worked hard during his college years to build an impressive resume consisting of both academic research and community involvement.

In his first two years at FSU, Shawn worked as a Core Scientific Contributor with Dr. Scott Steppan in the Department of Biology on the Tree of Life Project, a collaborative effort of biologists around the world to provide information about the diversity of life on earth and their evolutionary history on over 9,000 web pages. From this work, Shawn co-authored four publications on the phylogenetic relationships of squirrels throughout the world, with one of the articles published in the international journal for animal taxonomy, Zootaxa. Shawn was recently awarded the Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Summer Research Scholarship, granting him time with Dr. Susanne Cappendijk in the FSU College of Medicine on a study investigating the neuroprotective effects and oxidative stress on nicotine-exposed zebra finches.

While Shawn has amassed tremendous research and analytical skills as a result of his work in the Department of Biology and the FSU College of Medicine, he has also made a significant impact on both the FSU community as well as locales in remote areas of the world. As an opportunity presented through the Department of Undergraduate Studies, Shawn has served as a Freshman Interest Group Leader, acting as a peer-mentor to 20 incoming undergraduate students interested in medicine. In this position, he leads weekly class discussions, presentations, and field trips, helping the freshman understand the rigors and requirements of being a pre-med student. This work is important to Shawn, as he stated “In the end, I hope that I can inspire both my peers and underclassmen to work hard, serve their community through any opportunity that presents itself, step out of their comfort zone, and experience all that Florida State has to offer. The opportunities are there, you just have to want to find them!”

Working with FSU Pre-med freshman, though, is just part of Shawn’s impact. For three years, he has spent his Spring Break coordinating a week-long Medical Mission Trip with the Caribbean American Medical Educational Organization (CAMEO). His responsibilities include coordinating 8 pre-med students from FSU and overseeing the finances and legal paperwork for the trips. It was during these trips that Shawn’s passion for medicine and public health advocacy came to fruition. The group was able to assist poor families in Jamaica get proper reading glasses, and he recalls one elderly woman with tears streaming down her face in gratitude after she was given a new pair of glasses, thus allowing her to read for the first time in years. The group also helped patients learn to control their diabetes and hypertension through education and a fully-equipped pharmacy, something that had been missing from the Jamaican community. All told, the trips served approximately 500 patients annually.

Locally, Shawn serves as a Health Fair Coordinator organizing pre-med FSU students and local physicians to help provide free health services to the underserved community of Hispanic migrant workers in the Big Bend area. The Health Fairs have reached from Quincy to Apalachicola, Florida, giving the migrant workers and their families an opportunity for general checkups and screenings. Through donations and the generous support of local churches, health organizations and advocacy groups, Shawn has been able to continue to serve his local community, and realizes that these experiences will ultimately shape his future.

After graduation, Shawn plans to enroll in medical school, intending to become a Family Practitioner so that he can continue his medical outreach in both local and international underserved communities. He also hopes to earn a Masters in Public Health degree at Florida State University.