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UNLV graduate honored for public health research during pandemic


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    LAS VEGAS (KVVU) — The Class of 2021’s winter graduates include five “standout students” who will be honored during commencement this week.

For the first time since 2019, UNLV graduates will return to the Thomas & Mack stage on Tuesday. The pandemic forced the ceremony to go virtual in 2020, and in May, the graduating class had a ceremony outdoors.

Traditionally, the president honors a select group of outstanding graduates who made a huge impact during their academic career. Kristina Mihajlovski, receiving a master’s degree in Public Health, is one of five standout students being recognized this year.

“It feels amazing especially being an international student, I did not expect that,” Mihajlovski said.

Mihajlovski is a licensed physician from Serbia. Her passion for public health led her to UNLV. According to UNLV, more than half, 64%, of this winter’s class are from ethnically diverse backgrounds.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Las Vegas, Mihajlovski led what is believed to be the first study of coronavirus surface contamination in Las Vegas.

“I conducted laboratory research that was called ‘determination of the presence of SARS COVID-2 on environmental surface and air samples’ in public areas in Las Vegas, and that is the first study ever conducted in Las Vegas and in an international city like Las Vegas,” Mihajlovski said.

She said it was amazing to learn what her findings showed. During the same time she worked as a COVID-19 contract tracer team manager. UNLV’s Contact Tracing Team investigated over 43,000 COVID-19 cases. The team was named Program of Year by the Nevada Public Health Association.

Mihajlovski also wanted to address public health issues on a volunteer level.

“I was involved in health and hygiene kit preparation for homeless people in Las Vegas — that was amazing experience,” Mihajlovski said.

She said the volunteer work was important to her because it was her way of giving back.

“I wanted to help the community that accepted me being an international student, it meant the world to me to be accepted here and to have the opportunities and to have all the help of people here people gave me and how warm and welcoming all they were,” Mihajlovski said.

She plans to continue her work in infectious disease control and prevention with UNLV.

“Society cannot function properly without proper public health,” Mihajlovski said.

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