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Student Retention & Support Initiatives

Office of Multicultural Affairs

Within the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Affairs is dedicated to supporting positive outcomes for all students socially and academically.

We strive to create an environment of holistic support that includes peer and professional tutoring, career training and advisement, skills enhancement workshops, and academic counseling to guide historically underrepresented students toward the completion of a degree in medicine. Program services are designed to increase recruitment, retention and placement of eligible students in severe shortage areas. The program helps the scholars realize the importance of academic stability, networking, volunteering, and research, all of which are imperative to ensure success.

Office of Academic Support

The Office of Academic Support is a resource for all students. The office works closely with admissions, faculty, staff, advisors, and the curriculum office to identify students that are in academic jeopardy. Academic support for these students includes academic advising, addressing topics such as time management, note and test taking skills, and study techniques. Peer tutoring and workshops are also available.

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Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)*

Collegiate Science & Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) is an academic and career preparation program for historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students enrolled in programs leading to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and licensure. CSTEP participants must be full-time matriculated students in good academic standing and are required to participate in the broad range of program offerings such as: mentoring, tutoring, internships, career counseling, clinical skills development, and professionalism workshops. The program is funded by a grant from the New York State Education Department. In 2014, Upstate submitted a renewal of the Collegiate Science and Technology Program (CSTEP) grant to the New York State Department of Education. We received grant funding in the amount $750,000 ($150K per year) over a five-year period, from 2015-2020, that allowed us to increase our CSTEP participation from 60 to 75 students. CSTEP funds 75 students across all four colleges. In 2016, the dean of COM agreed to support an additional 75 students for this program. More info...

Diversity categories target for program: Black/African American, Native American, Hispanic/Latino, Low socioeconomic status, NYS state resident

Responsible individuals: Sharon Huard, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life
Krystal Ripa, Director of Special Admissions Programs
Maryann Grandinetta, Director of Academic Support Services

Funding Source: NYS Collegiate Science and Technology Program

Organizational Locus: Office of the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life

* Includes CSTEP Retention Mentors and CSTEP Lounge.

Mentors in Healthcare (MiH)

Upstate's Office of Multicultural Affairs manages a comprehensive mentoring program for underrepresented students. We have thirty mentors who are underrepresented faculty, residents, staff and upperclassmen. Large group meetings are held 3 – 4 times per year and individual mentoring is encouraged throughout the year. This program was implemented in 2015 and has an annual budget of $2,500. More info...

Diversity categories target for program: Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Female

Responsible individual: Steven Contreras, Director of Student Retention

Funding Source: Funded budget allocation from Upstate Medical University (State Funding)

Organizational Locus: Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life

Mentors in Healthcare Program

2015 2016 2017 Total
Total number of students 32 77 84 193
Black/African American 20 56 72 148
Hispanic/Latino 7 16 18 41
Female 23 57 60 140

Note: 2015 includes only fall participants

Presidential Scholars Summer Internship Program

This program is a strategic initiative sponsored by the Office of the President and coordinated by the OD&I in collaboration with the urban community. This program for spring graduating college seniors, graduate school bound (will consider college seniors who are not graduate school bound) and graduate students (Masters or PhD), and current graduate students. Since 2008, over 80 college seniors and graduate students from underrepresented minority groups, (e.g., Blacks/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Americans, Female) have gone through this program, and fifteen have been hired by Upstate Medical Center University. The program is designed to develop a workforce that is more diverse and reflective of the communities we serve. The program has provided employment and paid research opportunities for students enrolled in the COM. One Presidential Scholars Summer Intern was matriculated at COM after completion of the program. More info...

Diversity categories target for program: All students

Responsible individual: Nakeia Chambers, Diversity Initiatives Specialist

Funding Source: In-Kind classroom training room, internship sites; hosting some marketing events, such as open houses and fairs.

Organizational Locus: Upstate OD&I Diversity

Campus Conversations

COM have launched several programs to increase cultural competency on campus, including the Intergroup Dialog series and our Campus Conversations. Participation includes students, faculty and staff. In addition, the Office of Multicultural Affairs works with course directors and faculty to enhance cultural competency in the curriculum. Upstate's patient population is diverse, drawing patients from the large Central New York area. Students have opportunities to interact with patients from a range of cultural demographics.

In an effort to address national current events, the Student Affairs Deans host four "open dialogue" opportunities for students to express concerns, problem-solve, demonstrate empathy and understand issues related to diversity, inclusion and discrimination. Campus Conversations in the last year have centered on race relations, police interactions, and comfort on campus. More info...

Diversity categories target for program: All students

Responsible individual: Sharon Huard, Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life

Funding Source: Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life

Organizational Locus: Office of the Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life

UnSafe Spaces: Dialogues on Community, Culture and Healthcare & Campus Conversations/Intergroup Dialogue Series

Description: This multi-part series is hosted each semester and seeks to enhance cultural humility and competence. These "conversations" are dialogues on community, culture, and healthcare. No topics are preselected or chosen. Students drive the dialogue by raising issues about current events happening around the world. Learn more...

Diversity categories target for program: All students

Responsible individual: Steven Contreras, Director of Student Retention

Funding Source: Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life

Organizational Locus: Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life

Retention Mentor

Description: In 2016, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, hired an alumna of Upstate's College of Medicine, who served as faculty in Pediatrics, to mentor and support students of color during their clinical experiences. This position is funded by the CSTEP grant. Dr. Grant devoted 8 – 12 hours per week to her mentoring activities during her tenure at Upstate. Plans are currently underway to hire a replacement.

Diversity categories target for program: Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American

Responsible individual: TBD, MD (8-12 hrs/week)

Funding Source: CSTEP Grant

Organizational Locus: Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Campus Life 

Dean's Distinction Award

Description: The intent of the Dean's Distinction Awards is to identify incoming medical students who demonstrate need and exemplify the mission and goals of SUNY Upstate Medical University. The award is aimed at lowering the burden of debt for medical students and recruiting outstanding candidates for Upstate. Elements taken into consideration include academics, application information, estimated family contribution, total student debt, household income, household size, and other funds that a student may be receiving. Other factors considered are: under-represented minority, rural student, or first-generation college student. Recipients will be incoming medical
students, chosen by members of the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid using the social and financial information described above. The award will cover tuition and housing at Geneva for all four years of medical school and include a $5,000 stipend per year. The award is given to full-time students and is applied directly to the student's account. As a result, the recipient'’s loans will be reduced. Students are be notified by the Admissions Office that they have been awarded the scholarship.

Diversity categories target for program: Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Rural, First Generation

Responsible individual: Jennifer Welch, Associate Dean Admissions & Financial Aid

Funding Source: College of Medicine Dean's Office

Organizational Locus: Admissions & Financial Aid

Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)

Description: LMSA's annual regional conference offers a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to meet and network with future colleagues, peers and mentors from medical institutions throughout the Northeast. Conferences are attended by physicians, medical students and undergraduate students representing at least 25 medical schools and their affiliates. Medical students who participate in research have the opportunity to present their work.

Diversity categories target for program: Hispanic/Latino, Rural

Responsible individual: Krystal Ripa, Director of Special Admissions Programs
Jennifer Welch, Associate Dean Admissions & Financial Aid

Funding Source: Campus activities budget

Organizational Locus: Campus activities

Student National Medical Association (SNMA)

Description: The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is a student organization that focuses on the needs of medical students. SNMA was established in 1964 when it was recognized that there was a need to promote medical education among minority students. The organization works to encourage an increase in enrollment and retention of minority students in medical schools and to advocate for improved, culturally sensitive health care services and education for underserved individuals. The SNMA chapter at Upstate has five members, a president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. The assistant dean for diversity is the advisory for this organization.

Diversity categories target for program: All students

Responsible individual: Brian Thompson, MD, Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion

Funding Source: Campus activities budget

Organizational Locus: Campus activities

Women in Medicine & Science (WIMS)

Description: Women in Medicine & Science (WIMS) is an association of the entire female faculty of the College of Medicine, College of Health Professions and College of Nursing at SUNY Upstate Medical University. The overriding goal of WIMS is to enhance the status of women on the College of Medicine, College of Health Professions and College of Nursing faculty. Specifically, WIMS aims to enhance the retention and development of existing female faculty and facilitating the recruitment of new female faculty. From time to time WIMS takes on issues that are important for the success of female faculty at the schools. The group provides networking between women in different departments and support for women at Upstate. WIMS meets monthly and have a listserve that discusses issues of importance to women faculty at Upstate. WIMS sponsors a yearly, “Women in Medicine & Science Teaching Day” and supports social events for faculty from the Upstate campus. Learn more...

Diversity categories target for program: Females

Responsible individuals: Co-Chairs Susan Graham, MS and Renee Mestad, MD

Funding Source: Not applicable

Organizational Locus: Upstate Medical University.

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