Meet Spirit of Community Service Awardee Ruti Margalit

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations | April 09, 2013

Image with caption: Ruti Margalit, M.D., is the 2013 recipient of the UNMC Spirit of Community Service Award.

Ruti Margalit, M.D., is the 2013 recipient of the UNMC Spirit of Community Service Award.

Ruti Margalit, M.D., champions students into heroes.

Dr. Margalit, associate professor in UNMC's College of Public Health, founded and directs the Service Learning Academy (SLA) - a program to help health professions students find the true meaning of service through authentic community engagement.

Every year, more than 600 students make a meaningful difference in the lives of thousands in the Omaha area.

For this work, Dr. Margalit will receive the UNMC Spirit of Community Service Award on April 25 at the annual faculty meeting.

Mohammad Siahpush, Ph.D., professor of health promotion, social and behavioral health sciences, and graduate program director of the College of Public Health, nominated Dr. Margalit.

"Service learning is more than community service. It allows us to participate in a reciprocal manner with community members - serving and learning."

Ruti Margalit, M.D.

"To my knowledge, no one among UNMC faculty has dedicated even a fraction of the time that Dr. Margalit has tirelessly, enthusiastically and effectively spent on promoting the health of many underserved and isolated groups in the community."

Below, Dr. Margalit talks more about service.

How did you start in your community service activities?

My parents were my role models. They taught me to serve and the importance of community. My life has been enriched by the people I've met in the various communities we assist. For many years I have been interested and engaged with the community in the context of individuals. In 2006, with enthusiastic faculty colleagues, students and community members, we started a few grassroot projects in the Omaha community with underserved populations. These developed into sustainable strong 'legacy projects' that engage many today. My deep gratitude to community partners who trusted us, to Raees Shaikh - SLA graduate assistant, to Laura Vinson - SLA coordinator, to the many students who participate and serve as role models to all around them, and to faculty who invest many hours in ensuring the sustainability of the projects, especially Nancy Farris in the College of Nursing.

Why do you feel community service is important?

Service learning is more than community service. It allows us to participate in a reciprocal manner with community members - serving and learning. When community members and leaders are co-teachers, a true community/academia partnership can develop. Students, faculty and other involved are reminded that we are part of a bigger world and that there's a fine line between us and those being helped. These are humbling and eye-opening real-world experiences that provide ample opportunities to practice professionalism, develop communication skills, enhance health professions competencies, and utilize creativity and unique individual gifts.

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Shrawan Kumar
April 10, 2013 at 9:13 AM

!!!!!!!!CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!! RUTI FOR GREAT WORK - WISH YOU ALL THE BEST IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOR

Kathy Austin
April 09, 2013 at 9:36 PM

Congratulations Ruti! Our university, community and all of those who interact with you are so appreciative of all your efforts and the leadership you provide for those around you.

Greg Karst
April 09, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Ruti: Congratulations and best wishes for continued success with your projects. The student engagement in those projects is a valuable component on many levels.

Kari Simonsen
April 09, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Congratulations, Ruti! This is a well-deserved honor for your ongoing dedication and service to the community, and to UNMC as a leader and role model for many students!

Sherry Martin
April 09, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Although I have not had many opportunities to interact with Ruti, I have found her to be a vivacious and spirited woman who makes herself available to everything she believes in. She is also considerate, personable, and kind. She lives for the betterment of the future and she sees the "bigger picture." I congratulate her for having received this prestigious award. All the best, Ruti!

Rosie zweiback
April 09, 2013 at 7:59 AM

Congratulations Ruti! Thank you for all you have done to promote wellness for the under served.