Orthotist and Prosthetist Student Scholarship Recipients

Congratulations again to the recipients of ABC’s 2023 Orthotist & Prosthetist Student Scholarships. This group represents seven different O&P masters programs across the country and are certainly an impressive bunch. We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to a few of the winners.


Leah Karels 
Baylor College of Medicine

This North Dakota native is focused on education. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University with a concentration in Sports Medicine and a minor in Biomedical Sciences. She is slated to graduate from Baylor College of Medicine’s MSOP program this December. As part of that program, Leah will complete her residency in rotations at five different clinical sites across the country. 

“One of the perks to the rotations residency method is getting to see a variety of O&P settings, methods and techniques, so I am taking notes on all the things I want to incorporate into my own practice someday.”

Leah aspires to be a life-long learner. After earning ABC certification, she is interested in pursuing a PhD or an EdD, doing clinical research, teaching, getting involved with O&P policy or devoting time to a professional organization. 

Samuel Franklin Ray 
Northwestern University

Sam attended North Carolina State University in his hometown of Raleigh. There, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Sports Science and went on to earn a Master of Science in Biomechanics Research. Sam plans to complete his MPO from Northwestern University this March and hopes to find a residency opportunity near his family in the Midwest. “If anyone near there is looking for a stellar resident, let me know!” 

Sam admits to having lots of hobbies including playing Dungeons and Dragons and is currently working with his local library to form a D&D club and hopes to collaborate with them in the future on O&P related outreach activities.

“I would like to give back to the field and further research in Orthotics and Prosthetics. Having a background in biomechanics research, I feel that I can contribute from both a clinical and research point of view.”

Martin Ortuno 
University of Texas Southwestern

Martin graduated from the University of Texas Southwestern MPO program in December 2022 and is completing his residency with Coastal Prosthetics and Orthotics in Chesapeake, Va. Martin was born in Anaheim, Calif. but spent most of his childhood in Mexico. He later moved to Texas to attend the University of Houston and earned his undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science. Martin is still getting to know the Chesapeake community but has already worked with Coastal P&O doing outreach to local high school students, something he enjoyed doing in college.

“Ultimately, I would love to work with high activity patients, pediatrics and athletes. I hope I can provide the best care for all my patients, keep on learning and keep on making a difference in people's lives.”

Adesua Ojeifoh 
Kennesaw State University

Adesua earned a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Howard University. Originally from Prince George’s County, Md., she is now working on her Masters in O&P at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. She is excited to be part of the University’s inaugural class graduating in May and hopes to find a residency and practice that integrates evidence-based research and technology into restoring patient mobility. 

“After earning my certification, my goal is to participate in P&O research with a focus on myoelectric signaling. I hope to aid in advancing our field beyond the limitations of modern medicine through research.”

Adesua also volunteers annually with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Recently, she had the opportunity to volunteer at the Challenged Athletes Foundation's Running Clinic in Atlanta and hopes to participate in the Range of Motion Project this summer.

Denise Hull 
Baylor College of Medicine

Denise graduated from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and minor in Spanish. She is earning her MSOP from Baylor College of Medicine with plans to graduate this December. Denise is from Richmond, Va., but has already begun traveling the country doing her residency rotations. Currently, she is at C5 Prosthetics at the Naval Hospital in San Diego and is looking forward to the opportunity to explore various O&P environments. “I always knew I wanted a hands-on career focused on giving back to others, but it took me a few years to find my way into the field of O&P.” Outside of O&P, Denise is a self-proclaimed yogi and hopes to pursue her yoga teacher training soon. She is also a returned Peace Corps Volunteer and is involved with Peace Corps outreach and community groups.

“One of my long-term goals is to be involved in nonprofit O&P work, helping expand services to communities and countries with a lack of prosthetic care.”

Abigail Dykema
Baylor College of Medicine

Abigail is a MSOP student at Baylor College of Medicine graduating this December. She holds a degree in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Humanitarian Engineering from Valparaiso University in Indiana. which allowed her to study abroad in Costa Rica for a semester. Abigail grew up in Mattawan, Mich. She has finished two of her five residency rotations and is now on her third at a VA medical center in Denver. 

“Right now, I'm most interested in orthotic intervention in rehabilitation such as stroke rehab or spinal cord injury rehab but I'm excited to see if my interests change as I continue my residency. Long term, I would like to be involved in O&P education and research.”

Emily Dow 
University of Hartford

Emily is looking forward to graduating from the University of Hartford MSPO program this May. She received a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Movement Science from the University of Vermont as well as board certification in health and wellness coaching. Emily is from a small rural community in central Vermont, but her aspirations are big. She hopes to expand her knowledge in specialized areas of O&P like cranial remolding orthoses and custom upper extremity orthotics. She would also like to explore the possibility of integrating her health and wellness coaching skills into her work to better serve O&P patient populations. 

“This year at U of H, I had the privilege of serving as a teaching assistant. I enjoyed getting to know the first-year students and helping them navigate their first semester of O&P content.”


Ximena Vargas
University of Washington

This upcoming graduate of the University of Washington MPO program is already making her mark on the O&P profession. Ximena was born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua MX but moved to El Paso when she was 10. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science with a minor in Spanish as well as a certificate in Biomedical Research and Development from Texas A&M University. 

Ximena is currently involved in the Spanish translation of the Orthotic Patient-Reported Outcomes – Mobility (OPRO-M) item bank and has been asked to speak at ISPO in Mexico in April. 

“I want to continue finding ways to advocate for the Hispanic and Latino community throughout my practice. Advocacy can take many shapes and forms and I hope to merge my passion for patient care and helping my community.”

She has accepted a residency at Lurie Children’s in Chicago and after earning her CPO certification, would like to continue working at a children’s hospital. 



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