Student D.O. of the Year

John Zakhary

Huge thank you to the Committee comprised of Athina Giovanis, DO, Racheal Connington, MD, Stephen Jones, PhD, Justin Caloras, Nicholas Gatto (Committee Lead), Odolphe Augustin, and Sam Briggs for their help in choosing John for this acknowledgement.

2021/2022 - John Zakhary

"On behalf of the SDOY Committee, it is our honor to present to you TouroCOM Middletown’s student doctor of the year award winner, John Zakhary. John was the SGA President during the height of the pandemic, and you can imagine the unique challenges he and his fellow members of student government faced while trying to keep the community connected and engaged while ensuring that the students’ needs were being met academically in an everchanging educational landscape. He is not only a leader in the sense that he held many leadership positions, but he also led by example in his dedication to service to the community of Middletown, and to the mission of providing affordable healthcare to all. It is through his actions that we see the foundational tenets osteopathic medicine shine through in his leadership by example, service to the community when it needed it most, his dedication to accessible medicine, and the professionalism he shows every day.

We know better than most that we’ve started down a hard path and that it is impossible for anyone one of us to do it alone. John personally spearheaded the creation of the school study buddy program that set up persistent links for students to find and study with other students based on subject. He also reached out to our sister campus in Harlem to collaborate on joint student resources.

He has been an active part in the community working with local High School students to kindle their interest in the STEM fields via the Med Achieve as well as his volunteering activity with Reach Advocacy, the Middletown Warming station, Hope for Honor, St. Francis Inn, GRIPA, Goodwill guides not to mention various church volunteer opportunities he has participated in.

His propensity for taking initiative and seeking out leadership positions started from a young age as a boy scout where served his community as far as to reach the title of Eagle scout. Having heard more than a few of his rousing speeches it’s no wonder that he has long honed his craft of the spoken word through his affiliation with Toastmasters International, where he has been awarded several accolades by his peers. And somehow in the already chaotic life of leadership in medical school, he found the time to complete his MBA during his vacation rotation block.

John’s dedication to affordable healthcare has been a long endeavor which is evident through his participation in the SOMA Improving Insulin Affordability Resolution S-20-13, as well as the Minority Health Curriculum Committee Proposal. He has gone above and beyond in staying true to the osteopathic philosophy, by taking his elective rotation in Osteopathic manipulation and Obesity medicine. He truly seeks to ease the pain of chronic illness and strives to find health, which is something every DO swears an oath to do."

Excerpt from Letter of Recommendation

SDOY Selection Committee


The Student DO of the Year Award (SDOY) is an award presented annually by the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP), a council of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), to students who go above and beyond the average osteopathic medical student. Each School or College of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM/COM) will select a school SDOY via the process summarized below, and these school winners will go on to compete for the National SDOY Award. The National SDOY will be announced at the AACOM Annual Meeting in April and will be the recipient of a monetary award (amount will be formally announced at a later date).

The SDOY Award Recipient must be a full-time student at a SOM/COM and cannot be a previous school or national Student DO of the Year (SDOY) recipient. This individual should represent the following ideals and values:

● Leadership

● Commitment to Community Service

● Dedication to the Profession

● Professionalism

● Embodiment of the Osteopathic Philosophy

Nomination Process

Anyone can nominate someone/multiple people for the SDOY award. Although not necessary, you are welcome to add a statement of support for your candidate that will be considered during the selection process. Submit your nominations for SDOY via the following link ( or the form above.

School Selection Process

The school selection committee consists of the SOM/COM Student Government President (or School SDOY Chair), one representative from each SOM/COM Class council (i.e. Class President), a student randomly appointed by the SOM/COM Student Government, one Clinical Science Professor, one Basic Science Professor, and the SOM/COM Dean (or proxies selected by these individuals should they be unwilling or unable to serve). If you are a school with an alternate teaching site there will be equal representation from each campus on your selection committee. **When filling out your application, please LIST items unless a description is requested! PLEASE include a BRIEF explanation of acronyms or programs for purposes of clarification.** Your application packet and essay will be submitted to your School’s SDOY Chair, who will remove all identifying information from the essay and then distribute it to your local selection committee. The essay portion will be scored “blinded” and the application portion will be “un-blinded”. Grading rubrics have been included in this packet. The committee members will submit their score sheets to the School SDOY Chair, who will tally up the totals for each portion. The essay portion counts for 30% of the total score. Then the application will be distributed counting for 60% of the total score. The Selection Committee will then meet and discuss each of the candidates taking into account the nomination form and impression each of the candidates, acknowledging their efforts from a more personal standpoint (this can not influence your score more than 10%). If there is a tie, the Dean will cast the deciding vote. The essay, application, and ranking scores will be summed to determine the school's SDOY.

National Selection Process

Each winner's application, along with a letter of recommendation from the school SDOY committee and a photograph of the winner, will be submitted online to the COSGP National Secretary, who serves as the National SDOY Chair. She will then remove all identifying information and submit the packet to the National SDOY Selection Committee. The National Committee consists of: the AACOM Associate Vice President for Medical Education, one randomly selected SOM/COM faculty member who is an osteopathic physician, one randomly selected member of the Steering Committee of the Society of Osteopathic Medical Educators, last year's National SDOY Winner, one randomly selected member of the COSGP Student Services Committee, the SOMA President, and one randomly selected member of the Bureau of Emerging Leaders. At this level, all material is “blinded” and the worth of each section has changed. The application packet will count for 50% of the score, the essay will count for 30% of the score, and the nomination statement and letter of recommendation from the school SDOY committee and nomination (when applicable) will collectively count for 20% of the score. All score sheets will be submitted to the National SDOY Committee Chair, who will then tally the scores. The individual with the highest total score will be named the National SDOY. In the event of a tie, the National SDOY Committee Chair will serve as the tiebreaker. For more information or with any questions, please contact your COM/SOM’s SDOY Chair or Kristen D’Orazio, COSGP National Secretary and National SDOY Committee Chair, at