Summer Enrichment Program 2017 students (from left) Christian Pineda and Celeste Singh take a break on the campus green after completing their mock graduate school admission interviews.
University of Massachusetts undergrads Christian Pineda and Celeste Singh, both first in their families to attend college, are among 21 students completing the four-week UMass Medical School Summer Enrichment Program. The aspiring doctor and nurse practitioner say the program, which holds a graduation ceremony on Friday, June 23, has helped them in their pursuit of higher education for their health care careers.
“Like the name says, enrichment is the key,” said Singh, a nursing student entering her junior year at UMass Dartmouth. At age 13, she immigrated to the United States with her mother to join her grandmother, who had come years earlier. “The enrichment is personal reflection and growth that you need to do before entering this profession.”
With the ultimate goal to increase diversity in the health care workforce, the Summer Enrichment Program is a tuition-free, residential educational immersion 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.
“The best thing about this experience is the exposure, because I didn’t know much about what applying to medical school is like, and what it’s like once you get in,” said Pineda, a rising junior at UMass Amherst who is in the university’s UMass Baccalaureate MD Pathway Program. His parents emigrated from Mexico as young adults.
The immersive Summer Enrichment Program combines challenging academics; community and cultural health seminars, real-world shadowing experiences in UMass Memorial Medical Center’s level-one emergency department and mock admissions interviews. The packed dawn-to-dusk schedule gives students reality checks on time management, study skills and personal presentation.
Like Singh and Pineda, most of the Summer Enrichment Program students hail from the UMass and other Massachusetts state university campuses and many, like Pineda, are participants in the Bacc/MD program.
Pineda, Singh and classmates spent the weekends shadowing residents in the UMass Memorial Medical Center emergency department. Having previously visited other medical schools, Pineda was struck at UMMS by its modern teaching facilities including the interprofessional Center for Experiential Learning and Simulation (iCELS) and its Anatomage table, and how the curriculum gets students involved in patient care from the beginning.
“I wanted to see some of the things they do, not as a patient which I’ve been before, but from their side of it: how they go about taking care of patients, the teamwork that’s involved in everything they do, the preparation,” he said. “The residents I followed gave me feedback about their experiences as far as what to expect going from medical school thereon out.” Singh likewise marveled at how welcoming and helpful the residents were.
Pineda said the autobiography homework challenge was eye-opening.
“I realized I do want to do this,” he recalled. “It was a great moment of affirmation.” While he will keep his options open during medical school, Pineda is exploring interests in sports medicine and related neurological issues as a member of the student-led Neuroscience Club at UMass Amherst.
As a nursing student, Singh is keenly aware of the ambivalence many have about nursing versus medicine. She is leaning towards entering graduate school to become a nurse practitioner and said she was delighted to be introduced to the dean and faculty of the Graduate School of Nursing at UMMS. “I’m very interested in working in underrepresented areas because of my background. It is personal to me and that’s where I think my strong suit is,” said Singh. “Even if medicine is not your end goal, you can take away many things that are beneficial in this program.”
On Friday, June 23, the students concluded their time at UMMS with presentations of the top three health disparity research projects they completed, in the presence of their families and program leaders at the graduation ceremony.
Summer Enrichment Program Class of 2017
Anuoluwapo Ajao, UMass Boston ’19*
Kezia Asiedu, UMass Amherst ’19*
Ernesto Barbosa, Boston College ’19
Kylee Cardoso, UMass Dartmouth ’19*
Sherry Chen, Brandeis University ’18
Karina deSousa, UMass Dartmouth ’19*
Kimberly Garcia, Westfield State University ’18
Caitlin Gil Soto, Worcester State University ’18
Elisah Huynh, UMass Amherst ’19*
Stephnie Igharosa, UMass Amherst ’19*
Myrca Joseph, Fitchburg State University ’19
Nada Laroussi, UMass Boston ’19*
Richard Macdonald, UMass Lowell ’19*
Linda Nguyen, UMass Amherst ’19*
Trushti Patel, UMass Lowell ’18
Christian Pineda, UMass Amherst ’19*
Michael Pires, UMass Amherst ’19*
Celeste Singh, UMass Dartmouth ’20
Jodhbir Singh, UMass Amherst ’19
Nhi Tran, UMass Amherst ’19
Jessica Ulloa, UMass Amherst ’19*
*UMass BaccMD Medical Scholars