Springfield Students Flourish in Outreach Activities

Springfield students
Fourth-year medical students Rebecca Aguayo and Aundria Eoff became leaders of their class by always doing more than was required.

Rebecca Aguayo and Aundria Eoff got to know each other three years ago when Aguayo and her husband assisted with a medical Spanish class to help students who wanted to do outreach in Latin America. Eoff eagerly signed up.

Their habit of taking the initiative and doing more than is required has become a recurring theme for the fourth-year MU School of Medicine students.

“They are wonderful representatives of the School of Medicine,” said Michael Hosokawa, EdD, the senior associate dean of education and faculty development. “Rebecca has had a strong commitment to diversity and was a leader in the Student National Medical Association as well as other humanistic endeavors. She also found time to have a baby. Aundria is the class president for the students in Springfield and, during her years in Columbia, she was the business manager for the MedZou clinic.”

Aguayo’s history as an achiever started early. Growing up in the St. Louis area, she participated in youth gymnastics. When her parents couldn’t afford it any longer, she funded herself for a year by using all the birthday money she had saved. When that cash ran out, she stayed involved in the sport by becoming a coach — at age 14.

Aguayo developed an interest in medicine when she was exposed to global health problems while on a study-abroad trip to Panama during her sophomore year at Truman State. She later transferred to Missouri State to complete her undergraduate biology degree and also enrolled at Ozarks Technical Community College to earn her emergency medical technician certification.

After choosing MU for medical school, she opted to spend her third and fourth years at the Springfield Clinical Campus. Along the way, she got married and had a daughter.

Aguayo, who plans to go into family medicine, doesn’t have much free time, but when she does, she enjoys mentoring. She spent two years as the liaison to MU’s Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students and now helps high school students through the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced and Professional Studies.

“Mentoring is something I enjoy, and perhaps it’s because I didn’t have the best mentors when I first started thinking about pursuing medicine,” Aguayo said. “It’s nice to reach back and remember how I was feeling then and see if I can help others.”

Eoff, who was described by Aguayo as “friendly and bubbly,” is a Springfield native who initially studied biomedical engineering at the University of Arkansas before deciding she was too much of a people person to spend most of her time in a lab.

Eoff has a competitive streak that surfaces while playing board games or basketball and a compassionate side that pervades her views on medicine. Eoff, who plans to practice family medicine, said it’s her goal now and during her professional career to train medical workers in developing countries to improve care for their patients. That attitude is one of the reasons she is so involved as a student.

“Medicine is too often going to the doctor and saying, ‘Hey, I’m sick,’ or, ‘I’ve got this problem. Solve it.’ Medicine, especially in primary care, should also focus on being proactive rather than reactive,” she said.

This principle motivates her to participate in community and outreach events.

“Just reading and studying all the time wasn’t going to cut it during medical school,” she said. “I enjoy being a part of something bigger than myself and hope to stay this involved in my future career as well. It can get overwhelming, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s why I enjoy medicine.”