McGovern Medical School names 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient
McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston has named Arnold dela Cruz Paulino, MD ’89, and Greg Swanson, MD ’85, as its 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients.
The Distinguished Alumnus Award honors alumni of McGovern Medical School who have made significant contributions in the areas of medical science and education or the prevention and treatment of disease, as well as those who demonstrate a continued interest in the medical school and its students. The Distinguished Alumnus Award has been presented by the Alumni Association since 1987.
The 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Awardees will be recognized, along with the 2020 Distinguished Alumnus Award winners, during Alumni Weekend March 25-26, 2022.
Paulino is a Professor and Director of Pediatric Radiation Oncology in the Department of Radiation Oncology at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Following his graduation from McGovern Medical School in 1989, he completed his residency at Loyola University Chicago in 1994 and a fellowship at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Originally from the Philippines, Paulino called the award a testimony to his parents’ hard work and the notion that the American dream is still possible.
“To be named as a Distinguished Alumnus of McGovern Medical School is definitely a tremendous honor for me and my family,” Paulino said. “I came from the Philippines and just became an American citizen when I entered medical school at the age of 19 years. My parents worked very hard in this country with double jobs, and what some may call menial jobs supporting me and my siblings. Although I was far from being the best student in our medical school class, I was perseverant in the face of many obstacles.”
Paulino said that the Distinguished Alumnus award is special, because McGovern Medical School is where his career started.
“To be honest, when Roger Khetan, MD ’94, McGovern Medical School Alumni Association president, called me and informed me I was a 2021 Distinguished Alumnus, I wanted to call the alumni office to report the ‘prank,’” he said. “I did not believe it fully until I received the letter.”
Throughout his career, Paulino has been named Teacher of the Year by the Association of Residents in Radiation Oncology four times, most recently in 2013. He also was awarded the Golden Apple Teaching Award from Houston Methodist Hospital in 2013, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Board of Radiology in 2010, and the Luis Delclos Teaching Award in Radiation Oncology from MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2020. He is a fellow of the American Society for Radiation Oncology and the American College of Radiology.
Paulino thanked his family and teachers in college, the medical school, and postgraduate training for playing an important part in his career.
Swanson is a radiation oncologist for Baylor Scott & White Clinic in Temple, Texas. A 1985 graduate of McGovern Medical School, Swanson completed his residency in radiation oncology at the Mayo Clinic in 1989.
Swanson said that winning the Distinguished Alumnus Award is an honor, and remarked that even though he was fortunate for somebody to take notice of his career and recognize him for it, he spent two years with 200 capable students who also went on to become dedicated physicians.
“While I had the opportunity to do some things that got me noticed, I hope I can be seen as representative of my equally remarkable classmates who dedicated themselves to their patients,” Swanson said. “With everything, I have always tried to put patients first and hope that I truly have. By being named a distinguished alumnus, I aspire to be a truly worthy representative.”
Reflecting on medical school, Swanson recalled being prepared for the worst after one of his best friends informed him of how cutthroat his medical experience was at a different school, where students were always trying to out-do each other. Swanson found the experience at McGovern Medical School completely different, having the pleasure of getting to know all of his classmates and learning in an environment that is selfless instead of selfish.
Swanson said that he is grateful every day for his wife who supported him and his long hours and frequent absences. The couple married in college and made the decision not to delay their family.
“She gave up her teaching career to stay home and be a full-time mom, and I hope our four children realize how blessed they are for that. I can’t say enough,” he said.