“Hoyas for Science” Program Encourages Diverse Students to Pursue Biomedical Graduate Education

Posted in GUMC Stories

DEC 3, 2015 — This year, Biomedical Graduate Education (BGE) launched its first merit scholarship program for underrepresented minority students. The Hoyas for Science scholarship provides partial assistance for up to one academic year to newly admitted minority students who have graduated from one of the designated historically black colleges.

“The Hoyas for Science scholarship is a way for us to increase the diverse talent in our programs,” said Caroline Goon, MS, MBA , director of recruitment and career services for BGE.

There are nine 2015-2016 Hoyas for Science scholarship recipients . In addition to graduating from a historically black college, applicants must have a record of superior academic achievement, be offered admission to a BGE M.S. degree program and self-identify as an underrepresented minority.

Milanj Jackson, a graduate of Hampton University, is one of the scholarship recipients.

“I feel honored to receive this scholarship,” said Jackson, a student in the M.S. program for pharmacology. “I feel like I am able to spread the word about the program and encourage other underrepresented minority students to apply to Georgetown, not just because it’s a good school, but because it helps minority students.”

Pilot Partnership with the School of Medicine  

The 2015-2016 Hoyas for Science Scholarship recipients also have the opportunity to participate in the first-ever collaboration between BGE and the School of Medicine. Six scholarship recipients who are interested in attending medical school were paired with a first or second-year School of Medicine mentor for the academic year.

“As a new Office of Diversity and Inclusion, we are striving to increase connectivity across divisions and departments,” said Susan Cheng, Ed.L.D., MPP , dean of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Medicine. “These are future doctors who are interested in going into the profession. Our students are supporting them by helping them navigate the process of applying to medical school.”

Ashley Stark (SOM ‘18) is Jackson’s medical student mentor.

“I had a really difficult time getting into medical school,” said Stark. “I never really had anyone there to tell me what to do. So when I heard about this program, I thought ‘wow, I really wish I had that.’ So I signed up to be a mentor.”

The mentorship program began in October. Jackson, who hopes to focus on emergency medicine, said that the program has already been helpful to her.

“Ashley is really encouraging. She didn’t go straight to medical school after undergrad either, so it’s nice to have someone to relate to,” said Jackson.

Stark says she has helped Jackson with everything from physiology textbook recommendations to study skills to a contingency plan in case she, like Stark, doesn’t get into medical school the first time she applies.

“That was a conversation I never got to have,” said Stark. “So I’m glad I got to tell her, ‘look, worst case, these are some ways to bolster your resume for the second time around.’”

Cheng says that while the mentorship program is meant to help aspiring medical students, it benefits the mentors as well.

“Medical students get to build their network on the medical center campus while honing their leadership and mentoring skills,” said Cheng.

“These are skills we’re going to need as physicians,” said Stark. “When we’re residents, we’re going to have medical students that we’re going to be teaching, so I feel like this gives us a jump-start on learning those skills.”

Goon and Cheng hope to expand the mentorship program to more students next year.  

Leigh Ann Renzulli
GUMC Communications