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Worcester Pipeline participant finds home at UMass Medical School

School of Medicine student Isaac Ofori was introduced to UMMS as a senior at North High

By Colleen Locke

UMass Medical School Communications

August 02, 2021

A School of Medicine student introduced to UMass Medical School through the Worcester Pipeline Collaborative is now in his second year at UMMS and remains very involved in the community of his adopted hometown.

Isaac Ofori, SOM ’24, was born in Ghana and has spent much of his life in Worcester. He and his family, including four siblings, moved to Worcester when he was in middle school.

In high school, Ofori participated in the Health Science Academy at North High School, part of the Worcester Pipeline Collaborative, which encourages underrepresented and disadvantaged students to pursue careers in health care and the biomedical and biotechnology industries. The Worcester Pipeline is operated through a partnership between UMass Medical School, Worcester Public Schools, Worcester State University, Quinsigamond Community College, Plumley Village, Abbot Bioresearch Center and UMass Memorial Medical Center.

Ofori took a clinical internship during high school where he worked alongside UMass Medical School cardiologists at UMass Memorial Medical Center. He shadowed doctors, met with Nsidinanya Okike, MD, professor of surgery, observed stress tests and scans, and filed patient records. While studying biology at Worcester State University, he volunteered in the Emergency Department, greeting patients and performing data entry. After graduation and working in a biotechnology lab as a lab operations specialist and research associate, the next step was clear.

“UMass Medical School to me personally was the only choice. I never imagined myself going to any other medical school,” Ofori said.

Ofori said he would like to pattern his career after Imoigele P. Aisiku, MD’97. He shadowed the vice chair of Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Division of Emergency Critical Care while in college and he’s been interested in practicing critical care ever since. Ofori said he is fortunate to have had positive role models along the way, such as Dr. Aisiku and Dr. Okike.

It was a negative interaction with a doctor when his pregnant mother was in the hospital that first piqued his interest in medicine.“The physician said he was tired and was going home, and there was no other physician on call. So, he left my mother there. He came the next morning and then he helped, but I felt like, as a patient in the hospital, there should always be a physician there just in case of an emergency,” Ofori said. “Nothing happened to my mother, but things could have taken a turn for the worse.”

Ofori was five or six at the time, but the memory has stayed with him.

“I felt like physicians are supposed to treat their patients with a certain level of respect, with a certain level of care,” Ofori said. “I will try to be a physician that can always treat my patients with the sort of empathy and respect and care that I wanted for my mother.”

Staying in Worcester for medical school means Ofori can continue to volunteer as the organist at a church where his parents are both pastors. In March, he became a member of the North High Quadrant Support Services Advisory Committee, approving grants submitted by teachers and educators and doing volunteer work in Worcester. In April, he and other UMMS volunteers built garden and flower beds at North High School as part of Working for Worcester’s annual Build Day.

“Being a North High graduate, I knew the importance of volunteering. So I tried to make time to go and give back to the community that has given so much to me,” Ofori said.

Given his history, it’s no surprise that community is a word Ofori said he’d use to describe UMass Medical School.

“If you want a school that's knitted into the community, a school that's never about competition, but we're all striving to be great, UMass Medical School is the place to go.”

The Student Spotlight series features students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Graduate School of Nursing and School of Medicine. For more information about UMass Medical School and how to apply, visit the Prospective Students page.

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Worcester Pipeline Collaborative celebrating 20 years
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