A Rutgers University program that increases diversity in the medical profession by tutoring and advising pre-med students will celebrate its 25th anniversary Wednesday, when several hundred alumni and current students gather at 6 p.m. at the Douglass Campus Center.
Kamal Khan, director of the office for diversity and academic success in the sciences, a department within the Division of Life Sciences at Rutgers, said the pre-med students go through an eight-month tutoring program in their junior year to prepare them to take the medical school entrance exam in their senior year. He said more than 800 students have passed through the program, with 500 alumni living — and practicing medicine, dentistry or other health professions — in New Jersey.
“What we have achieved is that Rutgers is in the top 10, in terms of students of a diverse background” entering medical and dental schools, Khan said.
Prior to the program, which will include a keynote address by Neils Martin, a trauma surgeon at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia, there will be a 4 p.m. alumni reunion, also at the Douglass Campus Center.
Elorm Avakame, a junior pre-med student at Rutgers, said the program — which provides several hours of tutoring a week, plus small study groups — “is a high level of academic support.” Avakame said his parents are from Ghana, and he didn’t know what was involved in going to medical school. The program took him “from a place of dreaming to a place of reality.”
Besides the tutoring, the program works with students to map out their undergraduate course load, and provides them with a supportive, peer-to-peer community. “We lean on each other in times of difficulty, and celebrate with each other in times of success,” he said.
Avakame said his grade-point average has steadily increased, and he attained a 4.0 in the fall semester of 2010. “The academic support has helped me become a very competitive student.”
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