|Courtney James, Julliard Del Rosario and Cynthia Chude|
Members of the Summer Enrichment Program Class of 2012 are, seated from left: Courtney James, Getzabel Guevara, Esther Boama-Nyarko, Rhyvere Christopher, and Arelis Diñe; standing from left: Julliard Del Rosario, Cynthia Chude, Bornier Cruz, Christian Papazian, Maybelline Acquaye and Shaun Flanagan. Not pictured is Haile Hernandez.
Medical school is not as mysterious to the 12 students who graduated from this year’s Summer Enrichment Program (SEP) for college undergraduates interested in careers in medicine. With its ultimate goal to increase diversity in the health care workforce, the SEP is a four-week, tuition-free residential immersion program that helps college students from backgrounds that are underrepresented in medicine, or who are economically or educationally disadvantaged, improve their qualifications and competitive standing for admission to professional or graduate school.
“We set high expectations for you, and you’ve lived up to them,” said Robert Layne, director of outreach programs, at the closing ceremony for the SEP Class of 2012, held Friday, June 22. “I hope that you now understand the commitment and dedication that is required for you to pursue your dreams and your goals.”
For more than 30 years, the SEP and other summer outreach programs offered by UMMS have been achieving these collective and individual goals one student at a time, with many participants returning to attend and graduate from the School of Medicine or the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. This year’s group brought with them a variety of life stories and backgrounds, among them Cornell University sophomore Julliard Del Rosario, UMass Dartmouth junior Cynthia Chude and UMass Lowell junior Courtney James. Each reflects how SEP participants bring very similar goals—and reach similar conclusions about how to reach them—regardless of background.
Julliard Del Rosario
Del Rosario was born in the Philippines and immigrated with his parents to the United States when he was six years old. A serious young man who has overcome a speech impediment as well as cultural challenges to excel academically, he first became interested in becoming a doctor when his father needed multiple bypass surgery while Del Rosario was very young.
“I realize now how naive my prior understanding of what it meant to be a physician was. My SEP experience has enlightened me regarding what I should expect for a career in medicine,” Del Rosario said. “I must devote considerable time to preparing for the MCAT, medical school interviews, and most importantly, for doing considerable 'soul-searching’ to understand myself as much as I can.”
Chude likewise hails from another country, Nigeria, where she grew up on a farm with her grandmother until she was able to join her parents, who had already emigrated to in the United States. “I have learned to use self-motivation, time management and study skills to keep improving academically,” said Chude, who did not attend school until she was nine years old, and who has worked extremely hard to achieve academically while assimilating to a new culture since coming to the United States at age 10.
“I still have a long way to go, but my participation in this program will get me closer.” With SEP now buttressing her extensive volunteer and leadership experiences, including a high school internship conducted at UMass Memorial—Marlborough Hospital, Chude is well on her way.
James was born in the United States, as one of three daughters supported by a single mother, and has spent her entire life struggling—and succeeding—to rise above poverty.
“I feel that it is important for everyone to be able to receive the care they need even if they can't afford it, so if I could do anything as a physician I would make it so that everyone could access free, high quality health care,” she said. “As a disadvantaged individual myself, I am able to relate to and understand these patients’ struggles.”
James’ interest in health care began when she began work as a pharmacy technician at age 16 to help support her family, and shifted to becoming a physician after she observed physicians and interacted with patients in the emergency department at Boston Medical Center, one of Massachusetts’ free care hospitals. “Both Dr. Hines (Deborah Harmon-Hines, PhD, vice provost for school services) and Mr. Layne have been very helpful to all of the participants in this program by establishing how to conduct ourselves professionally and how to behave as physicians would,” she noted.
Attended by students’ family members, the SEP closing ceremony featured presentations by the three top-scoring students in the SEP final project, in which each student researched a health disparity in Massachusetts, then created and presented a Powerpoint slideshow to their classmates and instructors. Del Rosario and James placed first and third, respectively, with second place awarded to Rhyvere Christopher, a rising senior at Framingham State University.
“I’m very proud of Courtney,” said mom Heather James, as younger sisters Emma and Kelly nodded emphatically in agreement. “She’s going to be a doctor!”
Summer Enrichment Program Class of 2012
Maybelline Acquaye, Hamilton College ’14
Esther Boama-Nyarko, UMass Amherst ’13
Rhyvere Christopher, Framingham State University ’13
Cynthia Chude, UMass Dartmouth ’14
Bornier Cruz, UMass Boston ’14
Julliard Del Rosario, Cornell University ’15
Arelis Diñe, College of the Holy Cross ’14
Shaun Flanagan, UMass Amherst ’14
Getzabel Guevara, Northeastern University ’14
Haile Hernandez, UMass Boston ’14 (not pictured)
Courtney James, UMass Lowell ’14
Christian Papazian, St. Anselm College ’14