Riguin Zengotita Borges, a fourth-year student in Belmont’s College of Pharmacy, was recognized by the Office of the United States Surgeon General for his significant contributions to advancing the goals of Healthy People 2030. To be considered for the award, students are evaluated on their contributions towards voluntary health-related services, an emerging public health issue or contributions to the National Prevention Strategy.
Over the past four years, his dedication to maintaining health in medically underserved communities here in Nashville has been tremendous. Borges has worked with populations that are vulnerable — the homeless, the HIV infected and the elderly. Early on in the pandemic, he seized opportunities to be on the front line testing patients for COVID-19 at a center for underserved and indigent patients.
After vaccination efforts began in December, Borges again found a way to be involved, this time with elderly nursing home patients in Nashville and the surrounding areas, some of them rural, including LakeShore of Heartland (Nashville), Standing Stone Care + Rehab (Monterey), Pavilion THS (Lebanon) and Cedar Hills Assisted Living (Cookville).
In addition to receiving the USPHS Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award, Borges has been recognized previously for his hard work. In 2019, he was awarded the Walgreens Multilingual Scholarship for his work with the Spanish-speaking community in Nashville.
College of Pharmacy Professor Dr. Angela Hagan said, “He is a great example of a student leader dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those around them.” As an underrepresented minority in pharmacy education, Borges serves as a role model and mentor to not only the diverse students in the College of Pharmacy but also to the patients that he interacts with.
Borges has been chosen to complete a residency at Holyoke Health Center Pharmacy, which is a federally qualified, non-profit community health center (FQHC), in Holyoke, MA. He will continue to improve the health of patients through his role in providing comprehensive community-based programs to those in need.
As a bilingual pharmacist, he will work with a patient population that is primarily Spanish-speaking. Borges radiates with passion for helping those around him. When asked to elaborate on his calling, he has said, “I didn’t get into this profession to watch from the outside.” Borges models collaboration and inclusion by exhibiting respect and empathy for others, and he has clearly had a significant impact through his efforts in public health.