Introducing AMSNY’s Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Recipients for 2019-2020

10 Medical Students Awarded State-Funded Scholarships, Commit to Working in Underserved Areas

The Associated Medical Schools of New York is proud to introduce the 10 recipients of the 2019-2020 AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship, funded by the New York State Department of Health, thanks to support from the New York State Association of Black, Puerto Rican,  Hispanic and Asian Legislators.

The AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship is designed to provide physicians for underserved communities, while decreasing medical students’ debt load by removing financial barriers. 

The scholarship is pegged to the cost of SUNY medical school tuition, and is available to those students who have completed an AMSNY post-baccalaureate program and who commit to work in an underserved area in NYS upon completion of their medical education.

“We are proud to introduce this year’s scholarship awardees, who are each dedicated to improving health care in New York State as future doctors,” said Jo Wiederhorn, CEO of AMSNY.  “Their addition to the physician workforce will help diversify medicine and reduce health disparities, thanks to funding from the New York State Assembly.”

THIRD-TIME SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

AKYA MYRIE 
Undergraduate: Stony Brook University, BS (Health Science) ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’17 
Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Akya grew up in Brooklyn, New York, after her mother immigrated from Jamaica to secure better services for her son who is profoundly mentally disabled. Akya learned that while medical care was better in the United States, her mother and brother still struggled to access quality medicine and culturally competent care. This inequity led Akya to pursue a career in medicine but also instilled a drive to serve vulnerable communities and individuals who are chronically underserved. Akya is in Brooklyn starting her third year of medical school, where she has started various community service initiatives, participated in health disparities research projects on diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease, and will be joining a team to aid in a Medical Health Trip to Jamaica, where her roots originate. Akya describes a commitment to serve as an honor, rather than a requirement, and she is excited to work with an underserved community as a gastroenterologist after residency.

DIANA PEREZ 
Undergraduate: University of Connecticut, BS (Biological Science), ’14
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Training), ’17 
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’21

Before moving to the Bronx at age 11, Diana lived in the Dominican Republic. After graduating from her eighth grade English as a Second Language (ESL) program, she attended high school without an ESL program and had to quickly learn the English language. In high school, she participated in a summer internship at St. Vincent Medical Center’s Emergency Department. It was through this program that she gained a deeper understanding of how important it is for physicians to provide quality care and to help patients make better health choices. After college, Diana worked as a Perinatal Health Coordinator at the Institute for Family Health providing health education and guidance to low-income pregnant women. Diana says that growing up in the Bronx, one of the poorest counties in the country, lead her to view advocacy and justice as an obligation for healthcare professionals. As a medical student, participating in the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, she has learned more about the healthcare disparities affecting her community. Diana is starting her third year at Einstein and looks forward to providing proactive healthcare to underserved areas.

SEBASTIAN PLACIDE 
Undergraduate: Cornell University, BA (Sociology), ’12
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16 
Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’20

Sebastian grew up in a single-parent home in Brooklyn, New York, where his mother continually sacrificed for his well-being and led him to develop a passion of putting others first at a young age. Throughout high school, he helped translate for his grandmother when she saw the doctor since her physician was not fluent in Haitian-Creole. Even with the language barrier, Sebastian recalls that the physician served as an advocate, healer, and teacher for his grandmother which led him to also pursue a career as a doctor. Sebastian looks forward to serving a medically underserved community because he grew up in one himself and feels it is his duty to return the service. Sebastian is starting his fourth and final year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He has been inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society and appointed to serve on Einstein’s Medical Education Council, ensuring that the medical school curriculum is culturally sensitive to the diverse patient population of the surrounding Bronx community. Sebastian has a long-term goal of establishing a healthcare center in an underserved area to offer holistic and culturally appropriate care.

SECOND-TIME SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

NATASHA BORRERO 
Undergraduate: Yale University, BA (History of Science/History of Medicine), ’07
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’16 
Medical School: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, MD, ’20

Natasha was born and raised in The Bronx, NY and is currently a fourth-year medical student at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She spent many years working at a federally qualified health center in the South Bronx before working diligently to get into medical school through the AMSNY Post-Baccalaureate Program. Receiving the Diversity in Medicine scholarship has allowed her to focus less on medical student debt and more on the type of physician she wants to be. During clinical rotations, Natasha enjoyed building relationships with patients and is excited to be applying to Family Medicine Residency Programs. As a family physician, she wants to serve and collaborate with underserved communities in order to improve health outcomes and provide quality care. Natasha is looking forward to finishing medical school and starting her training where she can learn how to best care for patients of all ages.

FIRST-TIME SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

ANTÍA ITZEL GÓMEZ
Undergraduate: Pomona College, BA (Spanish), ’09
Doctorate: New York University, PhD (Latin American & Latina/o Literatures and Cultures), ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’19 
Medical School: SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, MD, ’23

Antía’s interest in becoming a physician emerged from her personal experiences as a transgender Latina and first-generation college student. As a child of Mexican immigrants, Antía grew up in an agricultural town with minimal access to medical care. These experiences led her to pursue health studies and Latina/o literature. During her transition, Antía learned to advocate for herself and built strong relationships with physicians who respected her gender expression and ethnic backgrounds. It was then that she made the decision to pursue a career in medicine. Currently, Antía is a first-year medical student at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University. As a transgender woman of color with access to the science and practice of medicine, Antía hopes to provide culturally humble patient education, preventative medicine, and disease treatment for those in her communities.

DEASHIA MCALPINE
Undergraduate: Russell Sage College, BA (Psychology), ’15
Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Technology), ’19
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’23

Deashia grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she experienced, first-hand,  healthcare disparities in a medically underserved community. Her passion for medicine was ignited in high school when she participated in the NYU School of Medicine High School Fellows Program. She attended an all-women’s college, where she learned about the inequalities that women face in society, especially in medicine. After college and while applying to medical school, Deashia served as an AmeriCorps volunteer being a patient educator in a women’s homeless shelter and at various homeless shelter clinics throughout NYC. Deashia was offered the opportunity to attend medical school through the AMSNY/Upstate University Medical School’s Master’s in Medical Technology and is currently a first-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. These experiences have inspired her to advocate for and serve underserved and underrepresented populations. She looks forward to empowering and to providing comprehensive care to her future patients.

NATHALIE MORALES
Undergrad: State University of New York at Stony Brook, BS (Psychology, Biology, Business Management), ’10
Graduate: Rutgers University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, MS (Biomedical Sciences), ’14
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’15 
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’20

As the daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants, Nathalie is the first in her family to graduate from college, graduate school, and later this academic year, medical school. Nathalie’s compassion and interest in the care of others was founded though her extensive volunteering experiences serving nursing home residents, at-risk youth, and hospital Emergency Department patients. Her clinical work experiences as a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Surgical Medical Assistant, and Clinical Research Coordinator empowered her to take a proactive approach to healthcare. After graduate school and completing her research thesis on wound healing, Nathalie participated in the AMSNY Post-Bac Program at University at Buffalo, and then began medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical University. During her rotations, she connected with Spanish-speaking patients and realized her passion to treat and advocate for people from backgrounds similar to hers. She is committed to becoming a physician who cares for the underserved while also providing the best medical care regardless of socioeconomic status. Nathalie is currently a fourth-year medical student pursuing a Family Medicine residency with interests in adolescent, reproductive, and immigrant health needs.

MICHAEL OLUWAFEMI OLU-TALABI
Undergraduate: State University of New York at Buffalo, BS (Biological Sciences), ’16
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’18 
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’22

Michael realized that his life goal was to become a physician based on his desire to educate and empower those living in underserved communities. Michael grew up in an underserved community in Queens, New York. From an early age, he experienced and observed inequities in the provision of healthcare as a result of a lack of trust between patients and physicians. Michael excelled in his academics and is now a second-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. As President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Chapter at Upstate, he leads efforts focused on the needs and concerns of black medical students. He is an active participant in programs such as Safe Spaces and Zhonta House, where he encourages and advises youth of color. This has shaped his goal to use education to serve his patients. He looks forward to delivering comprehensive healthcare and mentorship to those communities especially in need.

SAMANTHA WILLIAMS
Undergraduate: Union College, BS (Biological Sciences), ’18
Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences (AMSNY), ’19 
Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’23

Samantha was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, where she has observed throughout her lifetime, how medical care is delivered to an underserved area. Her desire to return to this community as a provider has stemmed from working as a pediatrics volunteer for four years at the Syracuse Community Health Center (SCHC), a federally qualified health center. In Schenectady, New York, Samantha volunteered at the Sunnyview Rehabilitation Center and worked with patients who experienced life-altering, traumatic injuries. She later became an emergency department scribe at Ellis Hospital in hopes of decreasing the burden of documentation for physicians to enhance patient encounters. Samantha has also done research looking at racial disparities in healthcare. Her love for Syracuse and passion for improving its health outcomes was reaffirmed when she chose to attend medical school at SUNY Upstate Medical University where she is now a first-year medical student.

EMELIO WOODSTOCK
Undergraduate: Syracuse University, BS (Psychology; Neuroscience), ’16
Post-Bac: Stony Brook University, MS (Biomedical Sciences), ’18 
Medical School: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, MD, ’22

As the son of Jamaican immigrants living in an underserved area of the Bronx, NY, Emelio has had first-hand experience in a community that would greatly benefit from physicians of color. Emelio’s interest in medicine started when he lost his grandfather to a preventable illness. Inspired by his mother’s community healthcare activism, Emelio wants to become a healthcare leader treating and educating both patients and the larger community about disease prevention. His clinical experiences serving as an E.M.T. in the greater Syracuse area and also internationally in Cordoba, Argentina, fueled his desire to work with the underserved. As the first in his family and immediate community to attend graduate and medical school, Emelio has navigated through hurdles to excel in his education while working part-time and remaining an active mentor to inner city youth in his community. Emelio is now in his second year at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University and looks forward to helping patients in predominantly immigrant-populated, disadvantaged communities in New York State.

 

About AMSNY

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 17 public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit: www.amsny.org