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Summer study, research put aspiring healthcare providers and scientists on the path to success


UMass Medical School hosted two cohorts of students in its annual summer enrichment program and its undergraduate summer research program for high performing undergraduate students from under-represented backgrounds in science and in medicine.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s programs have gone virtually, each ending with an awards ceremony of excellence.

“The most important things I learned were how hard the workload in medical school is and how everyone’s journey to medical school is different,” said Matheus Montenario, senior at the Worcester State University, an EMT who worked 60 hours a week during the pandemic. “Having spent over 12 hours a day completing homework, reading journals and articles, and taking exams reinforced the fact that I will have to be 100% committed and giving my all.”

The four-week sessions were held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each ending with closing ceremonies featuring awards of excellence at the end of June. The programs, which expose participants to the real world of healthcare and research careers and how to prepare for them, are managed by the Office of Outreach Programs and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Thirty-four members of the summer enrichment program and 23 members of the undergraduate summer research class applied to rigorous academics. Professors, post-docs and students from the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences shared their perspectives on their own career paths and discussed cutting-edge research in daily lectures. Research students performed experiments and conducted small-group research online and offline, while enrichment students aiming to attend medical school studied and practiced MCATs and had mock admission interviews conducted by the faculty and staff of the faculty of medicine.

the Summer enrichment program is a tuition-free educational immersion that helps participants improve their qualifications and competitive position for admission to a vocational school or university.

Shakendine Kelkboom participated in the Summer Enrichment Program as a requirement of the UMass Baccalaureate MD Pathway program. The BaccMD program puts qualified students from UMass undergraduate campuses on the right track to enroll in medical school.

“I was delighted to start this program and to be in contact with students of the same background and interests as myself,” said Kelkboom, an up-and-coming junior at UMass Amherst and a first generation student. “Hearing the diversity of their stories from a multitude of people in various fields and learning more about their journeys was inspiring. “

Supported by a long-standing grant from the National Institutes of Health, with additional funding from the UMMS Provost Office, the Undergraduate Summer Research Program is designed to interest college students in laboratory research, clinical research, and related careers. Students from the United States and United States territories apply for the competitive slots.

“As a first generation student it can be difficult to enter the professional and academic worlds, but this program did an incredible job showing us what options were available and empowering us to pursue them,” said Avani Hariprashad, a rising senior at Commonwealth University of Virginia. “In addition to the incredible opportunities for learning and collaboration, it also gives a sense of belonging. When I completed my application, I was able for the first time to indicate my ethnic origin as West Indian / West Indian. Hariprashad’s ultimate ambition is to become a doctor-researcher with a doctorate in medicine and a doctorate.

Undergraduate summer researcher Matthew Hanlon, majoring in biology at Worcester State University, is now pursuing academic and professional opportunities in the sciences after five years of service in the US Marine Corps. The highlight of her research experience was in small group meetings, where participants discussed each other’s experiences.

“Having a platform to discuss what was going well and what was going wrong in our work facilitated critical thinking and knowledge exchange, allowing us to overcome any obstacles,” said Hanlon. “While our research was done individually, producing a high quality report and presentation was definitely a group effort. “

Hanlon participated in the program to move towards his goal of obtaining a PhD in Biomedical Sciences. “I would like to go to higher education,” he said. “I still have a lot of work I want to do, and UMass Medical School is a great place to do it.”

“I just want to reiterate how grateful I am both for this experience and for the leadership of the program! Hariprashad said. The rising senior will apply the lessons learned when she goes straight to graduate school or enters a post-baccalaureate program to conduct more research next year.

Summer Enrichment Program Class of ’21
Sumeya Abrar, UMass Lowell ’23
Bradley Montanez, State University of Worcester ’23
Gracia Beya, UMass Amherst ’23
Matheus Montenario, State University of Worcester ’23
Nancy Blankson, UMass Amherst ’23
Liana Munoz, UMass Amherst ’23
Nicole Brown, UMass Amherst ’23
Akosua Obeng, UMass Boston ’23
Brittany Cullen, UMass Boston ’23
Tiba Qattan, UMass Lowell ’23
Isabel Davila-Lynch, UMass Boston ’23
Claudia Rodrigues, UMass Amherst ’23
Francesca Ocana De Mora, Quinsigamond ’21 Community College
Lea Saab, UMass Amherst ’23
Melissa Dorzin, UMass Boston ’23
Silvi Salhotra, UMass Boston ’23
Samer El Khatib, Wheaton College ’23
Dasol Song, UMass Amherst ’23
Ewaldine Fedna, UMass Lowell ’23
Miguel Aguilar-Soto, UMass Amherst ’23
Jessica Feraud, UMass Amherst ’22
Caroline Tran, UMass Amherst ’24
Okoh Frimpong, UMass Amherst ’23
Elsi Tutu, UMass Amherst ’23
Michelle Gitau, UMass Amherst ’23
Chukwuebuka Udom, UMass Amherst ’23
Hailie Hale, UMass Boston ’23
Patience Wairimu, UMass Lowell ’23
Janet Kalu, UMass Amherst ’22
Abigail White, UMass Lowell ’23
Shakendine Kelkboom, UMass Amherst ’23
Alicia Wilson, UMass Lowell ’23
Paolo Mattos-Canedo, UMass Amherst ’23
Naomi Zorrila, UMass Amherst ’22

Summer Undergraduate Research Program Class of ’21
Annika E. Beaverson, University of New Orleans ’23
Sophia M. Cinquemani, Johns Hopkins University ’22
Caroline E. Crone, Georgetown University ’23
Quinn E. Cunneely, University of Alabama ’23
Sandy Garcia, University of Nevada – Las Vegas ’21
Nia S. Hammett, North Carolina State Agricultural and Technical University ’22
Matthew Hanlon, Worcester State University ’22
Avani T. Hariprashad, Virginia Commonwealth University ’22
Julia Kan, Wesleyan University ’22
Danny Kwong, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science ’22
Randy Le, UMass Amherst ’22
Jesse K. Mendez, Providence College ’23
Adam Mohsin, University of Connecticut ’23
Caroline M. Moore, University of Maryland County of Baltimore ’23
Peter P. Nguyen, UMass Amherst ’22
Sophia M. Puertas, Wellesley College ’23
Princess M. Quansah, Worcester State University ’23
Andres E. Rodriguez Cardenas, Trinity College ’24
Helen M. Sanchez, State University of New York Oneonta ’22
Nadia NA Sarpong, UMass Lowell ’23
Jude M. Verdieu, Tufts University ’22
Joshua N. Williams, University of East Carolina ’22
Pauline Young, University of California Los Angeles ’23

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