Diversity in Medicine Scholarship Recipients

Meet the 2020-21 AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Scholarship recipients! To learn more about a scholar, click on their photo.

Current Scholarship Recipients

THIRD-TIME SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

DEASHIA MCALPINE

Undergraduate: Russell Sage College, BA (Psychology), ’15

AMSNY 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, experiencing healthcare disparities in a medically underserved community.  Deashia was offered the opportunity to attend medical school through the AMSNY/SUNY Upstate Master’s in Medical Technology and is currently a third-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Her passion for medicine 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, while applying to medical school, Deashia served as an AmeriCorps volunteer being a patient educator in a women’s homeless shelter. These experiences have inspired her to become a mentor for future underrepresented students, who also want to become doctors. She looks forward to empowering a new generation of doctors of color, who are needed now more than ever. 

 

MICHAEL OLUWAFEMI OLU-TALABI

Undergraduate: SUNY University at Buffalo, BS (Biological Sciences), ’16

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’18

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’22

Michael realized 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, where from an early age, he experienced and observed inequities in healthcare due to a lack of trust between patients and physicians. Now as a fourth-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Michael serves as President of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Chapter at Upstate, leading 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, and will be applying to Internal Medicine as his residency choice this year.

 

SAMANTHA WILLIAMS

Undergraduate: Union College, BS (Biological Sciences), ’18

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’19

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’23

Samantha was born and raised in Syracuse, New York, where she observed 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. 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. She has worked on the executive boards of the Student National Medical Association, Latino Medical Student Association, American Medical Women’s Association, and Endocrinology Interest Group, all at Upstate. In these organizations, Samantha finds ways to engage peers and faculty about health disparities and cultural humility. She is now the outgoing chair of the 2021 Health Justice Conference at Upstate, which featured topics such as LGBTQ+ health, environmental justice, COVID-19 health disparities, and much more. Currently, she is working on environmental justice policy for the town of DeWitt, New York. 

 

EMELIO WOODSTOCK

Undergraduate: Syracuse University, BS (Psychology; Neuroscience), ’16

AMSNY 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 raised 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. He is the first in his family to navigate the college application process, attend graduate school, and medical school. His clinical experiences serving as an E.M.T. in the Syracuse area and internationally in Argentina and Peru fueled his desire to work with the underserved. Emelio is now in his fourth year at Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University where he enjoys giving back to the next generation of students as a teaching assistant, mentor and diversity advocate. He is applying into pediatric residency and looks forward to helping young patients and their families in predominantly immigrant-populated, disadvantaged communities in New York State form healthy habits to prevent the development and progression of debilitating illnesses that disproportionately affect them.

 

SECOND-TIME SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

OBIOESIO BASSEY

Undergraduate: Georgia Institute of Technology, BS (Psychology), ’15

Graduate: Georgia State University, MPH (Epidemiology), ’18

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’18

Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’22

Obioesio, a first-generation Nigerian American, grew up watching his parents struggle to provide the necessary care for his younger brother who was diagnosed with profound autism at an early age. His brother’s condition, and his parents’ commitment to advocate for his brother, inspired Obioesio’s interest in medicine. In college, Obioesio pursued psychology as his major to better understand mental disorders. Motivated by disparities in healthcare outcomes of minority patients, he obtained a master’s in public health from Georgia State University. Obioesio is now in his fourth year at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and looks forward to serving medically underserved communities. As a future physician, he emphasizes the importance of building trust between healthcare providers and the communities they serve. He plans to increase health literacy for underserved communities and implement interventions that address disparities in healthcare access and quality of care.  

 

FIRST-TIME SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

DOMINIQUE ALEXIS

Undergraduate: Howard University, BS (Psychology, Allied Sciences), ’14

AMSNY Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Technology), ’21

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’25

Dominique was born in New York City as a first-generation Afro-Caribbean whose parents had immigrated from Grenada. Dominique later returned to Grenada, learning of the challenges underserved communities face in accessing proper medical care. As an undergraduate, she saw the same challenges in the United States. Now as a first-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University, she hopes to continue addressing these inequalities. Dominique’s first community service experience was as a tutor and counselor for Howard University’s Math and Science Upward Bound Program, where she prepared high school students to enter and succeed in college. Since then, Dominique has volunteered in underserved communities, providing free blood pressure screenings, working as an ophthalmic scribe, and helping patients with social determinant factors.

 

 ALEJANDRO ANDRADE

Undergraduate: SUNY University at Buffalo, BS (Major: Exercise Science, Minor: Health and Wellness), ’16

AMSNY Post-Bac: New York Medical College, MS (Basic Medical Sciences), ’18

Medical School: New York Medical College, MD, ’22

Alejandro grew up in Spring Valley, New York, where his passion for sports led him to become a certified personal trainer. His experience as a personal trainer sparked an interest in human anatomy, eventually leading to a prestigious internship opportunity at Helen Hayes Hospital, where physical rehabilitation is the focus. Alejandro’s parents, who migrated from Puerto Rico, have played a pivotal supportive role in his journey to becoming a medical student. Now in his fourth and final year at New York Medical College, Alejandro hopes to use his experiences to assist underrepresented patients and provide quality care to underserved communities. Having witnessed the biases that affect patients who speak limited English, Alejandro looks to use his Spanish-speaking abilities to help provide proper care and comfort to those who may otherwise be overlooked. He is particularly interested in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, as he feels that restoring functionality and increasing a patient’s quality of life after a life-changing injury is just as important as acute care.

 

 JESSE KWAME ASIEDU

Undergraduate: Buffalo State College BA (Major: Biology, Minor: Chemistry), ’16

Graduate: Buffalo State College, MA (Biology), ’20

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’21

Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate Health Sciences University, MD, ’25

Born in Accra, Ghana, Jesse gained a passion for the healthcare profession while visiting his sister as she was treated in intensive care. He and his sister later moved to the United States, where he eventually worked as an adjunct instructor at Buffalo State College and learned the importance of equipping overlooked and underrepresented students with the proper tools to prepare them for medical school. Jesse has also interned at the Greater Buffalo United Accountable Healthcare Network (GBUAHN), where he witnessed dedicated healthcare professionals providing services in a low-income community. He now attends SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University as a first-year student and continues to provide underrepresented students with the tools needed to succeed.

 

 COLLEEN BECKFORD

Undergraduate: Brandeis University, BS (Biology), ’14

Graduate: Brandeis University, MS (Biotechnology), ’15

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’19

Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate Health Sciences University, MD, ’23

Raised in Brooklyn, New York by Jamaican immigrants, Colleen has witnessed the systemic inequalities in American healthcare after her father was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. Observing these disparities sparked her passion in translational research and serving communities that medicine has abused and neglected. She has researched infectious diseases and antibacterial resistance in several places, such as the NICU of a hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and within ICUs in New York City hospitals. Colleen believes in the importance of mentorship and inspires women of color to pursue careers in STEM through programs like Science Club for Girls and 1000 Girls, 1000 Futures. She is now entering her third year at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, where, as co-coordinator for the Health Professions Recruitment Exposure Program (HPREP), she has organized instructional sessions that introduce students to health professions. Through Downstate’s free clinic and Student COVID Response Team, she has developed outreach for clinical resources and provided information to patients about the SARS-Cov-2 virus and the vaccine.

 

  HILARY BRIGHT  

Undergraduate: University of Maryland Baltimore County, BS (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology), ’16

AMSNY Post-Bac: Stony Brook University, MS (Biomedical Sciences), ’19

Medical School: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, MD, ’23

Born in the United States as a Nigerian American and raised by her mother, Hilary has always found a profound comfort in her experiences with her doctors. Having lived in difficult conditions with inconsistent access to water, heat, and electricity, the doctor’s office was a place where problems could be solved and she knew she was looked after. Through these experiences, her passion for medicine was ignited, and she is now a third-year student at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. Hilary has since participated in community health fairs, where patients from underserved areas are checked for high blood pressure and high glucose levels – a check-up that they might not have had access to previously. Hilary hopes to match into a pediatric or internal medicine residency program, where she can continue to work with underserved communities and advocate for her patients as her doctors once did for her.

 

DEVANTE BRYANT-NURSE

Undergraduate: University at Albany, BS (Human Biology), ’15

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’21

Medical School: Albany Medical College, MD, ’25

Initially devoted to the love of football, Devante began his interest in medicine in an unusual place. After tearing his labrum in an unfortunate sports-related injury, the physician who treated him did so with such compassion that Devante was inspired to provide the same care to others. He began working with underserved communities as a patient care associate at Albany Medical Center and is now a first-generation medical student entering his first year at Albany Medical College. He has witnessed firsthand the reluctance of patients from underrepresented backgrounds to see physicians, stemming from a history of unethical testing and improper care, and he hopes to address these inequities by providing representation and access in his journey to becoming a physician.

 

 VANESSA CHICAS

Undergraduate: Cornell University, BS (Major: Human Development, Minor: Latina/o Studies), ’18

AMSNY Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Technology), ’21

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’25

As a first-generation college and medical student, Vanessa is very excited to be a first-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Raised by her family who immigrated from El Salvador during the Civil War, Vanessa has assisted them as their translator in the doctor’s office. These experiences taught her of the need for Latinx representation in the medical field, as so few doctors are able to properly communicate to Spanish-speaking patients, creating misunderstanding and a lack of trust. In college, Vanessa volunteered through several programs, including the NYC Cornell Cooperative Extension office, where she visited neighborhoods located in food deserts to teach children about healthy nutrition and exercise, and provided free food to take home with recipes to share with their families. She hopes to become a pediatrician for children who live in underserved Latinx communities while implementing public health initiatives to improve the overall health of the community.

 

DANYA CONTRERAS

Undergraduate: Cornell University, BS (Biological Engineering), ’13

Graduate: CUNY City College of New York, MS (Biology), ’18

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’21

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’25

Danya migrated to the Bronx from the Dominican Republic at the age of six. Since then, she has become an advocate for Hispanic and Latino communities. She has pursued her passion through community service work, advocacy, and mentorship. As an undergraduate, she participated in Quisqueya: The Dominican Students Organization, La Asociación Latina, and various alumni organizations at Cornell University. She volunteered in the Emergency Room at Montefiore Hospital and at a family practice in the Bronx, where she was able to use her fluency in Spanish to connect with and educate patients facing a language barrier. Now she is entering her first year at SUNY Upstate Medical University, where she plans to continue serving underrepresented Latinx communities.

 

 JOSE DELIZ

Undergraduate: Wesleyan University, BA (Biology), ’17

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’21

Medical School: State University of New York, Downstate Health Sciences University, MD, ’25

Jose is entering his first year of medical school at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University where he aspires to become an ER physician. His interest in medicine was first discovered after tearing his ACL, inspiring him to learn more about his ailment and the human body as a whole. He has volunteered at Lincoln Hospital in the Adult Emergency Room, where, as a native Spanish speaker, he often acted as an interpreter for the numerous patients who primarily spoke Spanish. Jose has also worked with City Harvest, a program that helped deliver food to the underserved communities of New York. During medical school, Jose plans to continue addressing healthcare disparities through the Health Equity Advocacy and Leadership (HEAL) Pathway at SUNY Downstate. After graduation, his hope is to continue work at Lincoln Hospital so that he may provide accessible healthcare services to his community.

 

JERLIN GARO

Undergraduate: Hobart and William Smith Colleges, BS (Major: Biochemistry, Minor: Hispanic Studies) ’17

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’21

Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’25

Jerlin immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the Bronx at the age of seven, where she witnessed the reluctance of underserved communities to visit doctor’s office. During her work as a scribe with CityMD, she observed how patients came in once their medical conditions had worsened, opting to attempt self-remedies before risking costly medical visits. As a future physician, Jerlin aspires to address and improve patient hesitancy and access to medical care. Her background as a native Spanish speaker has also driven her to provide more accessibility to patients who are not fluent in English. She aims to increase awareness for telemedicine and wage-loss programs. Her background as a native Spanish speaker has also driven her to provide more accessibility to patients who are not fluent in English. She is now a first-year student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

 

ROMARIO GIBSON

Undergraduate: SUNY Buffalo State College, BA (Major: Biology, Minor: Chemistry), ’15

Graduate: SUNY at Buffalo University, MA (Biological Sciences), ’16

AMSNY Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Technology), ’20

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’24

As an immigrant and a person of color growing up in New York City, Romario understands the level of difficulty in accessing health insurance and affordable care for certain communities. Romario worked hard applying to medical school, and through the Medical Scholars Program is now in his second year at SUNY Upstate Medical University. In an effort to inspire those like him, Romario is currently working with children through the Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) organization, which offers workshops and various other services. In the future, he hopes to help remove the barriers to healthcare so that all have access to high-quality medicine.

 

KATHERINE GUZMAN

Undergraduate: SUNY Old Westbury, BS (Biochemistry), ’19

AMSNY Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Technology), ’21

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’25

 As a Salvadoran American, Katherine has witnessed the challenges that Latino immigrants face in finding medical care due to language barriers, difference in cultural beliefs, and general mistrust. Katherine, while working for a low-cost mobile vet clinic, was mostly assigned work in the boroughs of NY due to a lack of employees that spoke Spanish, where she found that the busiest areas were underserved neighborhoods with a dense Latinx population and language barriers. While working as a medical receptionist, she saw how medical bias affected care for patients from underrepresented backgrounds. Katherine hopes to address these issues by providing representation in the field and speaking up against these inequities that Latino and other underserved communities face in the American healthcare system. She is currently entering her first year at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

 

NNEKA ONWUMERE

Undergraduate: Manhattanville College, BA (Chemistry), ’11

Graduate: CUNY City College of New York, MS (Chemistry), ’18

AMSNY Post-Bac: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MS (Medical Technology), ’20

Medical School: State University of New York, Upstate Medical University, MD, ’24

Nneka was raised in the Bronx as a child of immigrants. She became immersed in the environment of medicine at the Bronx Veterans’ Affairs (VA) Medical Center, where her mother works as a registered nurse. Nneka started volunteering at the VA Medical Center by doing clerical work and visiting inpatients, and has since volunteered as a community health ambassador in Harlem, where she encouraged the community to partake in outdoor activities and healthier food choices, despite living in a food desert. She is now a second-year student at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, where she works with Refugee and Immigrant Self-Empowerment (RISE) to provide care to refugee and immigrant children.

 

 

LUNA PAREDES        

Undergraduate: CUNY Hunter College, BA (Major: Biochemistry, Minor: Psychology), ’17

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’21

Medical School: Albert Einstein College of Medicine, MD, ’25

Luna came to the United States at the age of 18, having been raised in the Dominican Republic. Since immigrating, she has volunteered abroad in Ecuador, co-organizing a 10-day volunteer health education trip to deliver health and sex education in Spanish and basic English. She has also volunteered at South Bronx Community Health Leaders (SBxCHL) at Montefiore Hospital, where she has assisted in activities such as contacting recent immigrants in Spanish and in English to notify them of their medical and legal options. Luna has now entered her first year of medical school at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where she aspires to practice in underserved communities to narrow the gap between the services people need and those they receive. In addition to educating and advocating for her patients, she hopes to provide high-quality and culturally sensitive care to low-income Hispanic communities. 

 

ROBERT SIMMONS

Undergraduate: New York University, BS (Major: Neural Science, Minor: Chemistry) BA (Spanish and Latin American Literatures and Cultures), ’18

AMSNY Post-Bac: Stony Brook University, MS (Biomedical Sciences), ’20

Medical School: Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, MD, ’24

As a black, Puerto Rican Bronx native who recognizes the unfair tribulations that minorities face in healthcare, Robert has worked hard to fight for underrepresented populations. Having started volunteer work at soup kitchens, he has since interned as Program Coordinator for Health Leads, where he worked with Spanish-speaking populations to screen and enroll people in public benefits. As a student at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, he has helped found the chapter of Students for a National Health Program (SNaHP), where he helps to build a diverse, intersectional coalition aimed at advocating for a more equitable healthcare system in the US. Robert is now entering his second year at Stony Brook, where he also serves as President of Stony Brook’s Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) and as White Coats for Black Lives Liaison for the Student National Medical Association (SNMA).

 

SAVANNAH STEWART

Undergraduate: Northeastern University, BS (Major: Biology, Minor: Global Health), ’18

AMSNY Post-Bac: University at Buffalo, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biological Sciences, ’21

Medical School: Albany Medical College, MD, ’25

Savannah has strong ties to her parents’ communities – her mother immigrated from Liberia and her father was an African American living in Alabama – which have provided her a unique perspective and driven her to seek experiences working with underserved populations, both here and in Africa. In her volunteer work, Savannah was surprised to learn that, in Kenya, cancer is considered a death sentence due to lack of resources and late staging. It was a further surprise to her that the situation for black women in the United States is not so different; many articles cite lack of access to services, late staging, and low socioeconomic status as factors resulting in poor outcomes. Savannah has been moved by disparities like these; she has volunteered as a biology teacher for inner-city youth, as a mentor for black students, and as a teacher’s aide for public health programs in Kenya. She has also worked abroad to track and mitigate leprosy cases in Kiribati, an underprivileged pacific country, and volunteered at a free clinic in Rhode Island to help manage patients with chronic disease. She now enters her first year at Albany Medical College, and plans to learn how to address the inequities that underrepresented communities face.