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Six SBU Students Selected to SUNY’s Second Class for Innovative Pre-Medical Opportunity Program

Eop premed group 2022
Eop premed group 2022
From left to right: Jedan Phillips, MD, associate professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine at the Renaissance School of Medicine and associate dean for Minority Student Affairs; Stony Brook students Kiara Mejia Velasquez, Steven Correa, Lauren Ampadu, Ashley Cendales, Bidhata Tripathi and Jason Do; EOP/AIM Director Pamela Matzner; and EOP/AIM Senior Academic Advisor/Counselor Dorothy Joy Corbett. Photo by John Griffin.

Six Stony Brook University students are among the 20 students in the State University of New York’s second class of its Pre-Medical Opportunity Program, established last year to help Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) students interested in pursuing a medical career prepare for, apply to, enroll at and graduate from one of the system’s top medical universities.

The in-person residential summer program, hosted at Stony Brook University, concluded on July 30, and included clinical exposure through simulation labs as well as workshops, skills development and academic programming. Students then receive remote instruction in August to prepare for medical school prerequisite courses — organic chemistry, physics and microbiology — that they take on their home campuses during the Fall 2022 semester. An online course is also set to begin in August to help students from the first and second classes prepare for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section of the MCAT, which is required for medical school entry.

“The Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, is honored to host the second cohort of the SUNY EOP Pre-Med Scholars,” said Inel Lewis, director of diversity initiatives at the Renaissance School of Medicine. Lewis added that while on campus, the students attended sessions on medical school admissions, financial planning for medical school, intubation, CPR training and writing a personal statement.

The program was created to help students from underserved communities earn a medical degree, which, in turn, will improve patient outcomes and help address longstanding inequities in the healthcare system. A recent study by the JAMA Network found that 50.5 percent of 44,903 medical students come from families within the top quintile of households, and 24 percent belonged to the top 5 percent.

The Stony Brook students participating in the program, including their area of interest, are:

  • Kiara Mejia Velasquez, Physician Assistant
  • Ashley Cendales, Medicine
  • Lauren Ampadu, Medicine
  • Steven Correa, Physician Assistant
  • Bidhata Tripathi, Medicine
  • Jason Do, Medicine

“Stony Brook is proud to partner with SUNY by hosting this summer’s Pre-Medical Opportunity Program on our campus,” said Stony Brook University President Maurie McInnis. “This program is critically important to students because it provides the necessary support — mentorship, academic counseling, skill development and experiential learning — to help them develop a passion within the medical field. Our world class faculty and staff are deeply committed to helping innovative and ambitious students move up the ladder of economic opportunity while they pursue careers that help change the world.”
Eop aim convocation

“Research has shown that improving diversity in healthcare improves patient outcomes and expands research protocols,” said SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley. “Breaking down barriers that have prevented individuals from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine will have far-reaching positive impacts. So, it is with great pride that we welcome the second class of EOP students into this program, where they will receive the wraparound services that will empower them to set their own paths into medicine. We appreciate the Governor and legislative leaders for their ongoing support and look forward to joining them in applauding these aspiring medical professionals when they receive their diplomas.”

“Our institutions better serve our people when our people are represented in our institutions,” said Stony Brook alumnus and New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie ’90. “The EOP Pre-Medical Opportunity Program will open the doors, and keep the doors open, to the medical field for disadvantaged students by providing them with the resources and support they need throughout their education. The Assembly Majority will continue to fight for funding for EOP and its programs like this one that put higher education and a path to a successful career within reach for all New York’s students.”

The program is supported by state EOP funds, which saw a 15-percent increase in the 2022-23 budget approved this past spring by Governor Kathy Hochul and the state Legislature. This year’s class of 21 new participants representing seven SUNY campuses brings the total number of Pre-Medical Opportunity Program students to 43. To date, two students have graduated and gone on to medical school.

In addition to the wide array of support they receive from their home campus, Pre-Medical Opportunity Program students are provided assistance with preparing for required pre-medical courses, taking the MCAT, and navigating medical school once admitted to medicine, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy or physician assistant programs.

All of SUNY’s medical universities participate in the program, including the University at Buffalo, Downstate Health Sciences University, the College of Optometry, Stony Brook University and Upstate Medical University. Each participating student is matched with a faculty mentor from one of these institutions. To be considered for the program, candidates must be a SUNY EOP sophomore or junior on a pre-medical track, maintain a grade point average of 3.2 or higher, and have successfully completed two semesters of general chemistry and two semesters of biology.

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 55-year history, the EOP has served more than 78,000 students and evolved into one of the country’s most successful college access programs.

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