After meeting with inaugural class of 23 students in Pre-Medical Opportunity Program at Upstate Medical, SUNY chancellor announces he will double investment in program
During his meeting with 23 students in the inaugural Pre-Medical Opportunity Program at Upstate Medical University, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced that SUNY will double its investment in the special program to help more Educational Opportunity Program students get into SUNY's medical universities. The announcement was made July 20 at Upstate where Malatras and Upstate President Mantosh Dewan, MD, met with the first class of 23 pre-medical scholars from nine SUNY campuses who are a part of the Upstate Summer Residency. By increasing the investment, the program will be available next spring for up to 50 students pursuing medical careers.
Malatras launched the new initiative in February 2021 to extend SUNY's long-standing and successful EOP, which ensures New York State's disadvantaged students from underserved communities gain access and succeed in undergraduate programs. SUNY's Pre-Medical Opportunity Program is designed to break the trend of low student diversity amongst the nation's medical schools, which leaves behind students from the most economically-disadvantage households from pursuing a graduate medical degree. Across the nation, about two-thirds of students come from families within the top two quintiles of family income ($74,870 to $225,251).
Program starts first at Upstate
SUNY's medical universities are all part of the program—University at Buffalo, Downstate Health Sciences University, Stony Brook University, and Upstate Medical—to provide academic support, mentorship, clinical exposure, assistance with MCAT preparation, academic coaching, and workshops. The program started at Upstate Medical this week with lectures, laboratory sessions, and classes to prepare the scholars for medical school entrance exams and their final undergraduate credits. It will resume with four weeks of remote instruction in August, at which time each student will be matched with a mentor among the faculty at SUNY academic medical centers.
To be considered for the program, candidates must be a SUNY EOP sophomore or junior on a pre-medical track, have a grade point average of 3.2 or higher, and have successfully completed two semesters of general chemistry and two semesters of biology.
The first class includes 23 students from nine campuses, including: Kwame Adu from the Bronx studying at Binghamton University, Julio Aguilar from the Bronx at SUNY New Paltz, Adora Amobi from Buffalo at University at Buffalo, Jason Benitez from Nassau County at Farmingdale State College, Nyquana Blake from Queens at Stony Brook University, Leslie Campo Catalan from Queens at Stony Brook, Sabrina Espinal from Brooklyn at UB, Guilleromo Granados from Sullivan County at New Paltz, Anzila Haris from Queens at a SUNY-affiliated Cornell campus, Briajahnae (Bri) Hymes from Syracuse at SUNY ESF, Regina Kangela from Syracuse at Onondaga Community College, Khalid Mansouri from Brooklyn at a SUNY-affiliated Cornell campus, Kevin Medina from New York City at Stony Brook, Anahy (Anna) Moran from the Bronx at Stony Brook, Enikbokun Musaagboneni from Brooklyn at UB, Mugabo (Jules) Nshimye from Syracuse at a SUNY-affiliated Cornell campus, Abigail Obeng from the Bronx at Binghamton, Unique Phyall from New York City at Buffalo State, Catherine Pierre from Nassau County at University at Albany, Nawab Quaderi from Suffolk County at Stony Brook, Rosmery Reyes from the Bronx at UAlbany, Cindy Sanchez from Queens at Buffalo State, and Jennifer Sosa from the Bronx at Buffalo State.
"We know that the pandemic has caused us to get more highly-trained medical professionals into the workforce, and at the same time, we have a responsibility to lift up every qualified student—that is the foundation of our new Pre-Medical Opportunity Program," said Malatras. "Today, I met with 23 brilliant and resilient students—all with the drive and passion to pursue this noble field—and by doubling our investment, 50 more students will be able to join the program next spring. No talented student interested in medicine should be left behind. It's our obligation to provide every student the keys to the door of opportunity. We will continue to grow this program in the coming years so that more New Yorkers like them are afforded the same support."
SUNY Board Trustee Eunice A. Lewin said, "We are aware of the challenge nationwide among students from underrepresented backgrounds, those who are experiencing financial hardships, and not having the same access to the programs necessary to compete in becoming a medical professional. The SUNY Pre-Medical Opportunity Program serves as a launching point for our students, where they can build a foundation that will set them up for success this fall, all while providing them with the necessary tools to step into their programs of study and feel confident that they can excel and move through their coursework without worry. I want to thank Chancellor Malatras for getting the resources to double SUNY's investment, President Dewan and campus leadership for hosting the summer program, and all our medical universities for their collaboration and support."
Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan, M.D., said, "This week, 23 students have made history at SUNY Upstate Medical University by beginning their work in SUNY's Pre-Medical Opportunity Program. This program provides students from disadvantaged backgrounds—who have dreams of becoming physicians—with the building blocks of academic success. Greater diversity of those in the medical profession helps bring unique perspectives to the profession and benefits the care of diverse patient populations."
Briajahnae (Bri) Hymes, SUNY Pre-Medical Opportunity Program student said, "As a rising senior at SUNY ESF, I didn't know if I could get into a medical school and I was afraid to apply. I have been in a number of different programs because my family and I do not have the resources. With the Pre-Medical Opportunity Program, I am now applying to Upstate Medical University and have confidence that I am one step closer to my dreams of being a part of the medical profession."
The chancellor convened a group made up of System Administration and the SUNY medical schools to design the Pre-Medical Opportunity Program to ensure compliance with the Liaison Committee on Medical Education accrediting body, and to help select the students. The program was completed a year ahead of schedule and, as a result, enables SUNY to double the scope of the program to allow more students to benefit.
Since its inception in 1967, the EOP has provided access, academic support, and supplemental financial assistance to students from disadvantaged backgrounds, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. In its 53-year history, the EOP has served more than 77,000 students and evolved into one of the country's most successful college access programs.
In the current academic year, SUNY had more than 10,000 EOP students on 49 SUNY campuses. EOP students often outperform their peers, with 74 percent of them graduating with a baccalaureate degree within six years.
SUNY graduates more than 11,000 health professionals every year, including one of every three medical school graduates, nearly one of every three nursing graduates, and one of every four dentists in the state. Enrollment for the 2020-2021 academic year is at 2,740 students. SUNY announced in December that it has received a dramatic increase in applications to its medical programs.