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2007 C-Ring Winner Celebrates the Community of Women

The C-Ring Award, given by the UC Women's Center annually to an outstanding graduating senior woman, was presented May 19 to Rachel Robitz. But she’s not through with the University of Cincinnati just yet.

Date: 5/23/2007
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
UC ingot Rachel, who was chosen from a field of 15 finalists, is receiving her bachelor of science in biomedical engineering (BME) this June but will turn around and enter UC’s College of Medicine in August. She is one of a select few who was admitted under the highly competitive dual admissions option between UC’s Colleges of Engineering and Medicine. Denise Gabrelski is Rachel’s pre-med advisor.

“If accepted [into the dual admissions program], students have a spot in our College of Medicine upon graduation,” wrote Gabrelski in her letter to the selection committee. “Only a small percentage of applicants are accepted into the program.”

As a part of the Connections-E program with the medical school, Rachel had dual admissions to the med school out of high school.

“This was one of the main drawing points at UC for me,” she says. “BME at UC sounded interesting because I would learn a different way of thinking about medical problems which would be helpful as a physician.”

Rachel Robitz (right)
2007 C-Ring Recipient Rachel Robitz (right)

Besides academic excellence, the C-Ring recipient must have demonstrated advocacy for women and girls, as well as community engagement, leadership and responsibility. Rachel’s community engagement is stellar, with the world as her community.

“She is truly a person who wants to make the world a better place,” says Mary Beth Privitera, assistant professor in biomedical engineering.

Rachel helped set up the recent trip to Kenya for UC’s Engineers Without Borders chapter. The UC students worked with residents to identify water source and quality issues.

“Rachel was instrumental in planning the Kenya trip, especially the health assessment component,” says Dan Oerther, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. “She is incredibly devoted and focused, and understands global health issues.”

Rachel has developed a love for the people of the Dominican Republic.
Rachel has developed a love for the people of the Dominican Republic.

“She has been working in the Dominican Republic since she finished and has previously worked there volunteering,” Privitera says. “Before she left, she raised money to help one of the Dominican families send their child to school.”

Rachel’s project in Privitera’s class was geared toward designing a minimally invasive saphenous vein harvester for the third world. Third-world countries typically cannot use minimally invasive techniques due to complexity & cost.

“If it were not for Rachel’s efforts her team would have totally disregarded this design requirement, as it is much easier to design for ourselves than for others who are less fortunate,” adds Privitera. “Throughout Rachel’s project she carried the majority of the research to better understand the needs of a developing world and I would not be surprised to find her participating in Doctors Without Borders one day.”

Mark Bowers, assistant dean in the College of Engineering, says that Rachel convinced a physician to let her participate in developing an HIV/AIDS program called “ACCESS: Caribe” in the Dominican Republic.

Rachel is helping this little girl continue her education, despite losing her mother to cancer.
Rachel is helping this little girl continue her education, despite losing her mother to cancer.

“During her six-month co-op in the Dominican Republic, Rachel conducted a community health survey on her own initative,” says Bowers. “Here Rachel took what she learned while at UC and applied it in a broader community context.” Bowers noted in his letter supporting her selection that she developed a project of another kind while there: finding financial support for a woman with cancer, supporting the woman’s children and finding funds to build an indoor toilet for a family.

UC Women’s Center director Barb Rinto says that the C-Ring goes to a true winner.

“C-Ring recognizes women who work to improve the quality of life in our communities; who feel a responsibility to the greater world. These are women who ‘lift as they climb,’ selflessly reaching out to other women and girls to help them succeed,” says Rinto.

Rachel has many strong role models. “I have a diverse group of strong women in my family: both of my grandmothers, my mother's aunt, and my mother,” she says, “Also, Pearl Willis. Ms. Pearl's work in Chicago has been amazing, and I am honored to call her a mentor."

Rachel shares the love with her ballet students in Over-The-Rhine.
Rachel shares the love with her ballet students in Over-The-Rhine.

Rachel also uplifts and lifts girls to help them succeed — literally. One of her many outreach passions is teaching ballet to a group of disadvantaged girls in Over-The-Rhine. Rachel had extensive ballet training before coming to UC. During her sophomore year, she began to offer a ballet class through CityCure, even going so far as recruiting volunteers to build barres and donate shoes. Her efforts led her to be recognized by the Cincinnati Enquirer as a “Hometown Hero.” She is volunteering time at the Cincinnati Ballet in exchange for lessons for one of her most gifted students.

Perhaps advisor Gabrelski sums Rachel up best: “My words cannot do this compassionate, humble, intelligent and amazing young woman justice.”

“I'd like to invite everyone to get involved in these causes that are so near to my heart: Engineers Without Borders, CityCure ballet classes, a youth center in the Dominican Republic,” Rachel says. “The next four years of my life will be full of medical school. I am hoping that next summer I will be again able to work internationally, hopefully returning to the Dominican Republic.”

Ten years from now she hopes to be either a family medicine or pediatric physician working with an underserved population domestically or internationally, perhaps with Dominican immigrants or in the Dominican Republic.

Rachel Robitz with some children.

“My faith is what drives what I do,” says Rachel. “I've been honored to work with my ballet girls in Cincinnati; a diverse group of students in Engineers without Borders; and many wonderful friends, patients, coworkers, and neighbors in the Dominican Republic. I've learned the necessity of community and how everyone can contribute in some way.”


The Biomedical Engineering Department had Rachel flown in to receive her award. Here, Rachel celebrates with BME chair William Ball, MD.
The Biomedical Engineering Department had Rachel flown in to receive her award. Here, Rachel celebrates with BME chair William Ball, MD.

Related stories:

5/4/2007 Fifteen Graduating Senior Women Contend for UC's 85th Annual C-Ring Award
Fifteen graduating senior women are being considered for the 85th annual C-Ring award at the University of Cincinnati out of an eligible pool of more than 750 women.

5/30/2006 Competition for UC’s C-Ring Award Has Grown by Leaps and Bounds
This year’s C-Ring Award recipient is an internationally ranked baton twirler for UC. It's only fitting.

7/4/2005 Samantha Cronier Grabs the Gold Ring at the Annual C-Ring Banquet
In days gone by, grabbing the gold ring on a carousel meant you won a free ride. Graduating senior Samantha Cronier has had quite a ride at the University of Cincinnati, culminating in her receiving the coveted C-Ring Award.

See the full list of prior years' winners and read more about the C-Ring Award.

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