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How Ten CCNY Students Won Scholarships for Medical School

Ten fourth year students in the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College of New York have been awarded Sophie and Leonard Davis Scholarships for medical school  by Dean Stanford A. Roman, Jr. The recipients were Carolyn Chang, Marina Frimer, Sharmin Haque, Ajita Kundaikar, Donald McLaren, Tiffany Newman, Priya Patel, Mohammed Bilal Shaikh, Henry Siu, and Chizoba Umeh. They were honored for their academic excellence, financial need, and for demonstrating what Dr. Roman described as those qualities of compassion, empathy and professionalism requisite for the "good physician" who is committed to making a meaningful contribution to the field of medicine.

Recipients receive $5,000 a year for their first two years of medical school at The Sophie Davis School and $10,000 a year for the third and final year of education at the cooperating medical schools.

Now in its 30th year, the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education offers a unique five-year BD/MD program for 340 students that integrates an undergraduate education with the first two years of medical school. Upon completion of the five years at Sophie Davis, graduates transfer to one of six medical schools in New York State: Albany Medical College, SUNY/Downstate, New York University, New York Medical College, SUNY/Stony Brook, and SUNY/Syracuse, for the final two years of medical education and their MD degree. The Sophie Davis School's mission is to increase the accessibility to careers in medicine for inner-city youths of New York City, especially minorities under-represented in medicine, and to train primary care physicians to serve in medically under-served communities. In the face of declining enrollment of under-represented minority students in medical schools across the country, approximately 40% of the Sophie Davis students are African-American or Hispanic, representing a diversity unparalleled at other medical schools in New York State. Over 1,400 graduates of Sophie Davis are now practicing medicine, most often in such Primary Care fields as Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics/ Gynecology, Geriatrics, and Family Medicine.

The top students and how they did it may give other young students inspiration.

Carolyn Chang: Ms. Chang was awarded the Downer Prize for Excellence in Language Studies at the City College Honors Convocation after her first year in the program. She was chosen as a peer tutor/counselor in the summer pre-matriculation program for entering Sophie Davis students and was for two years named a Leonard Davis Fellow. Ms. Chang used her fellowship to volunteer as a tutor in after-school programs at the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Community Center in Harlem. She has also volunteered with the Radiation and Public Health Project doing public health research into the effects of radiation

Marina Frimer: The recipient of a Leonard Davis Fellowship in 2002, Ms. Frimer has worked as a volunteer in the CCNY Child Development Center and the Urban Studies Institute, where she tutored high school students. Since 2001, she has volunteered at Beth Israel Hospital doing research in the Department of Pain Management and Palliative Care

Sharmin Haque: Named to the Dean's List every semester, Ms. Haque ranks among the brightest in a class of talented students. She is a Belle Zeller Scholarship recipient and a Leonard Davis Fellow who has volunteered her time at a local junior high school tutoring and mentoring young students. Since high school, Ms. Haque has volunteered at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, Inc., an activity that is very dear to her.

Ajita Kundaikar: As a child in India, Ms. Kundaikar remembers accompanying her doctor father on his rounds. Today, she's on her way to following in his footsteps as she continues to excel at Sophie Davis. She received a Leonard Davis Fellowship and used it to volunteer at the Holcombe-Rucker Center tutoring junior high school children. As a Rudin Research Fellow, she conducted research in neuroscience with Dr. Christopher Chan of CCNY's Department of Physiology and Pharmacology.

Donald McLaren: Following his first year in the Sophie Davis program, Mr. McLaren was among a select group chosen to tutor incoming students in the computer skills/medical informatics course that is required for all freshmen in the Biomedical School. He was also one of only five students chosen in Spring 2003 to serve as teaching assistants in the Fieldwork in Community Medicine course. A Leonard Davis Fellow, he used his fellowship to volunteer as a tutor in the after-school program at Boy's Harbor, working with high school students

Tiffany Newman: Ms. Newman entered the Sophie Davis program as a recipient of the Lois Pope L.I.F.E. Unsung Heroes Scholarship, which is awarded to two students annually for outstanding academic records in high school and community work. Her commitment to volunteerism remains unwavering.

Priya Patel: In January 2002, Ms. Patel traveled to South Africa as part of a medical mission trip organized by the National Youth Leadership Forum. She was profoundly inspired by the selfless dedication of some of the physicians she met there working under extreme circumstances. The experience fostered a desire in her to give back to communities in need and to one day serve on similar missions to Third World countries as a physician.

Mohammed Bilal Shaikh: In his freshman year at CCNY, Mr. Shaikh received the Drabkin Award for Excellence in Latin. He has an interest in ancient cultures and languages and also took a course in classic Greek. Mr. Shaikh volunteers his time teaching at the Islamic Center of North America in Queens. One of his greatest inspirations has been a cousin in Pakistan, a poor physician, who has taught him to always be "on a journey for humanity and friendship, as well as for personal learning and growth." 

Henry Siu: Research has been Mr. Siu's keen interest at Sophie Davis. He has worked in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Gottlieb helping to characterize new strains of cystoviruses, with funding from a Louis L. Seaman Grant in Microbiology from the New York Academy of Medicine and a Rudin Research Fellowship. He later presented his work at a New York Academy of Medicine seminar. His excellent performance in the computer skills/medical informatics course for Sophie Davis freshmen led to his selection as a teaching assistant in the course, a position offered to only about five students per year. He hopes to integrate alternative medicines with Western medicine.

Chizoba Umeh: Ms. Umeh is another Rudin Research Fellowship who has used the award to expand her research horizon. In her case it afforded her the opportunity to participate in a neuroscience project, which she found highly enriching. Ms. Umeh has been instrumental in organizing numerous healthcare-related activities, including charity events to benefit Harlem Hospital, blood pressure screenings and a joint effort with other Sophie Davis clubs to conduct an on campus bone marrow screening drive.#



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