Four first-year students from the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Athens and Dublin campuses have been named the college’s newest participants in the OhioHealth Physician Diversity Scholars Program. A fifth student was selected to be an alternate. The program aims to encourage, guide and support medical students from underrepresented minority backgrounds by pairing them with physician mentors from the OhioHealth system.
“This important partnership with OhioHealth goes back 10 years, and it complements our college’s efforts to train a workforce of osteopathic physicians that reflects the diversity of the patient population they will serve,” said Calvin James, Ph.D., director of programs for the college’s Office of Inclusion. “We extend our congratulations to this year’s scholarship recipients and our thanks to OhioHealth for its continued support of the program.”
Chosen this year to join the program were osteopathic medical students Ana Aguilar, Alanna Meadows and Aichetou Waiga from the Heritage College, Athens, and Daniella Owusuwaah from the Heritage College, Dublin. The alternate is Princess Emeana from the Heritage College, Athens.
An induction dinner for the Heritage College students, along with medical students from other Ohio schools accepted into the program, was held April 10 at the King Arts Complex in Columbus. There, participating students got to meet their physician mentors, network with other mentees and physician leaders, and learn how to get the most benefit from the mentoring relationship. Each scholar will receive a $500 annual stipend to cover expenses for traveling to meet regularly with their mentor and to apply toward professional development opportunities; scholars who match into an OhioHealth residency will receive a loan repayment sum of $10,000 a year.
“We are so fortunate to have a strong partnership with the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said program Director Nanette Lacuesta, M.D. “Speaking as the director of the OhioHealth Physician Diversity Scholars program, we are excited about working with the best and brightest from the Heritage College, and know that connecting those students with mentors from OhioHealth and this community will be such a win for everyone involved. This program works, continues to grow, and I’m confident that we are building a tremendously gifted, diverse, and prepared workforce for years to come.”
New scholar Aguilar said she was “extremely honored” to have been chosen for the program. “My father is from the Canary Islands, a Spanish island chain off the coast of Africa,” she said. “While I was raised in Cincinnati, much of my father’s culture impacted my upbringing. When I was growing up, I always felt like I was toeing the line of my two cultures: not fully American, but not fully Spanish. Now, I am proud of the fact that I am a Hispanic American. My culture has made me into the person I am today, and I would not have it any other way. I am very excited to be working with such a diverse group of people, and I cannot wait to learn more about how to make a positive impact on diversity in our health care system.”
Meadows called the program “vital for providing underrepresented students with the support they need for optimal growth in the health care industry. I am encouraged by OhioHealth's commitment to diversity and inclusion to create a diverse workforce and provide the highest quality care in the communities they serve. I am excited to get more involved in the program and meet my mentor in April. As a Columbus, Ohio, native, I am excited to be connected back to central Ohio, and I believe this program will provide me with the skills and networking opportunities to learn how I can better serve in my community after graduation from the Heritage College.”