Summer program helps prepare underrepresented students for medical school

Summer program helps prepare underrepresented students for medical school

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More than 40 undergraduate students from across the nation successfully completed the Medical School Matriculation Program, an intensive six-week summer program at UTMB in Galveston. The Office of Medical School Enrichment Programs hosted the MSMP, which aims to increase the pipeline of economically and educationally disadvantaged students, as well as underrepresented minority students who can be recruited to medical school.

During their six weeks in Galveston, MSMP participants were introduced to the medical school environment, provided with mentoring and given the opportunity to interact with UTMB administrators, faculty and medical students. The program, which ended on June 22 this year, has two levels – Level 1 is designed to give academic enrichment, motivation and clinical exposure to rising junior pre-medical students with a comprehensive MCAT prep course; Level 2 provides senior students assistance with the medical school application process. The program coordinator for MSMP is Debra Liedy.

One of the last assignments students completed was a creative art project, showing health disparities in medicine. Drawing on the lectures they received from Dr. Karl Eschbach, a professor in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Preventive Medicine and Community Health, they created paintings, clay models and even a brain carved out of a watermelon to present in front of a panel of faculty judges.

Dr. Lisa Cain, who serves as director of Medical School Enrichment Programs and is an associate professor in the Department of Neurosciences and Cell Biology, expressed pride in her students, whom she calls her children. “This program not only gives them an idea of what medical school is like, but also allows them to form networks and friendships and to identify study partners and share ideas. They leave UTMB with an appreciation for the institution and a desire to push forward to achieve their goals.”

Alexander Athanase is from the U.S. Virgin Islands and is currently a student at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans. As the first person in his family to go to college, he said the MSMP program has inspired him to continue on a path to become a physician.

“I never thought I would have come this far,” said Athanase. “I have gotten so close to all the other students in this program, and we have learned that if you have a goal, go for it, find people who support you, work hard and do what you have to do to follow your dreams. I hope to get in to medical school and make a difference in people’s lives.”

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