20 students participate in pipeline programs to prepare for medical school
Posted on August 6, 2021 by Nichelle Smith
Several undergraduate students from across the region recently completed the University of South Alabama College of Medicine Diversity Recruitment and Enrichment for Admission into Medicine (DREAM) Program and the SouthMed Prep Scholars Program (SMPS) – with the aim of preparing them for the rigors of medical school.
This year, 13 undergraduate students participated in DREAM and seven participated in SMPS.
The SouthMed Prep Scholars Program is designed to enhance medical school access and success through two eight-week summer sessions that focus on research, MCAT preparation, the interview process, and continuous relationship building between prospective medical students and the USA College of Medicine.
Undergraduate students who identify as underrepresented in medicine and are residents of Alabama or the surrounding service area counties of Mississippi and Florida are eligible to participate. Interested students apply and are competitively selected to participate in the programs. After successfully completing the program, students will be offered a position in the USA College of Medicine first-year class following completion of their undergraduate degree and prerequisites as described in the matriculation requirements.
Grace Sekaya, a rising senior and SGA president at USA, recently completed the second phase of the SouthMed Prep Scholars Program. “I am so very fortunate to have had the chance to participate in the pipeline program at the USA College of Medicine,” she said. “Many people have noted how representation matters, and having diverse physicians serving the diverse patient population is more important than ever. During the program, I was able to sharpen my research skills by working on a project in phase one. In phase two, I was grateful to be surrounded by such great minds as we worked on our medical school application, studied for the MCAT and prepared for interviews throughout the summer.”
Sekaya said her favorite moments during the program were the opportunities to engage with diverse students from other universities such as Xavier University of Louisiana, Tuskegee University, Alabama A&M University and Jacksonville State University. “I really loved working in the classroom with them during the team-based learning activities and outside the classroom as we explored Mobile together.”
The purpose of the DREAM program – first developed in 1986 as the Biomedical Enrichment and Recruitment (BEAR) Program – is to introduce, expose and encourage disadvantaged and underrepresented students to consider careers in medicine. The program takes place over eight weeks and is open to undergraduate seniors and recent graduates.
Students who complete the program will also be offered a position in the USA College of Medicine first-year class following completion of their undergraduate degree and prerequisites as described in the matriculation requirements.
“Overall, this program highlighted that I am not alone, and though my journey is long, I have an amazing community that I can lean on. Being surrounded by peers who looked like me and seeing the amazing current medical students showed me role models in the flesh and is a confirmation that what I hope to one day become is not merely a dream but a goal that will and can come into existence,” Sekaya said. “It confirmed for me that if they can do it, I can too, which is powerful.”