The Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University is proud to celebrate the graduation of 15 outstanding high school students who participated in the Medical Internship Navigating Diversity & Science (MINDS) Program.
“Our mission is to create a physician workforce that is capable of delivering excellent clinical care and optimal health to all individuals – irrespective of their socioeconomic status – and one that reflects the communities we are so privileged to serve,’’ said Bonita Stanton, M.D., founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.
Fifteen students were selected from a competitive applicant pool of 248 New Jersey high school students who are from underrepresented backgrounds and engaged in hands-on learning which included: how to suture with surgeons, motivational interviewing with clinical psychologists and working in the Emergency Room at Hackensack University Medical Center to interview patients affected by homelessness, domestic violence and substance abuse.
“This internship provides gifted students with an opportunity to experience hands-on learning from dedicated physicians and allied health professionals from underrepresented communities and helps us achieve a goal of working to ensure future physicians mirror the communities where they practice,’’ said David S. Kountz, M.D., MBA, FACP, Associate Dean of Diversity and Equity at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.
This year’s theme, How your Home Affects Your Health, follows the School of Medicine’s mission of engagement and vision of health equity. A key goal of the innovative curriculum is to eliminate disparities in health outcomes, regardless of socio-economic and other factors.
“We are committed to supporting students from underrepresented communities so they can harness their talents and help create a field of medical professionals as diverse as our population in New Jersey and beyond,’’ said Asia McCleary-Gaddy, Ph.D, director of Diversity & Equity at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.
The interns visited the New Community Center’s Harmony House and met with Seton Hall alumna, Arti Kakkar, the organization’s Chief of Health and Human Services, to understand how homelessness affects women and children. The East Orange Veterans Affair and Essex County LGBT Rain Foundation also welcomed the interns to educate them in how homelessness affects veterans and LBGTQ youth.
In addition to medical knowledge, an integral component of the internship is college readiness. Students received a public speaking course, SAT tutoring and Basic Life Support and training in how to dispense Narcan, an opioid antidote.
The internship took place from July 16 through August 23.
The following students from New Jersey high schools participated:
Kyla Belton, 11th grade, Jonathan Dayton High School, Springfield.
Alexander Berman, 12th grade, County Prep High School, Jersey City.
Brook Lin Figueroa, 11th grade, Christ the King Prep, Newark.
Christian Herbert, 11th grade, East Orange Campus High School.
Nazyia Johnson, 11th grade, East Orange STEM Academy.
Camillah Nigatu, 12th grade, Belleville High School.
Elsa Nyongesa, 11th grade, Piscataway Vocational Tech High.
Deborah Obiajulu, 11th grade, Academy Allied Health Sciences, Scotch Plains.
Ailyn Onofre, 12th grade, Passaic High School.
Ayreanna Pettijohn, 12th grade, Union County Vocational Technical High School.
Jayline Ramirez, 12th grade, Union City High School.
Santiago Salinas, 12th grade, West Orange High School.
Indira Summerville, 12th grade, Morristown High School.
Jordan Walker, 12th grade, West Orange High School.
Rena Walton, 12th grade, Academy for Allied Health Sciences, Scotch Plains.