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Introducing the Newest Cohort Accepted Into Albany Medical College

The UAlbany juniors accepted into Albany Medical College as part of the Early Assurance Pathway Program are, from left, Nathan Lasher, Akacia Dunkez, Catherine Ramos, Omolabake (Grace) Fagbenro, Monique John, Ann-Marie Wilhelm and Zoey Bert (not pictured). Photo by Scott Freedman.

ALBANY, N.Y. (Nov. 12, 2019) – The University at Albany and Albany Medical College (AMC) have announced the cohort of students accepted to AMC’s Doctor of Medicine (MD) program as part of a cross-institution partnership to increase the number of applicants from underrepresented backgrounds.

Launched in 2018, the Early Assurance Pathway Program (EAPP) recruits and matriculates highly competitive UAlbany undergraduate students from demographic sectors that have traditionally been underrepresented in the medical profession, as well as first-generation and low-income students, to earn an MD from AMC. Experts say diversifying the student body in medical schools will create a physician workforce that can best meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population and is a way to mitigate health disparities.

The cohort of seven students, all juniors at UAlbany, now have places reserved for them at AMC two years earlier than the normal application year for medical school. The students chosen for this cohort include:

Nathan Lasher

Nathan Lasher is a biology major and neuroscience minor. Lasher grew up observing his mom work as a Licensed Practical Nurse and a Patient Care Technician (PCT) and realized how important the work was both because it was the sole support of his family, but also because of its “intrinsic value.” He has already worked directly with patients in medical imaging, physical therapy and ambulatory surgery. Lasher explains that medicine is a “team sport” — he often reflects on how playing high school football as well as being involved in music has taught him about team dynamics and the critical importance of working as a team. Lasher believes that a career in medicine and the ability to serve others, especially at times of great need, will help make his life important.

Akacia Dunkez

An Albany native and first-generation college student with numerous academic awards, Akacia Dunkez’s main inspiration for a career in medicine came from watching her mother, a nurse. A biology major, Dunkez would sometimes accompany her mother to work and said she was always inspired by her positive attitude despite the hardships of her patients. Dunkez is eager to follow in her mother’s footsteps and realized that she could do even more, first with a bachelor’s degree and then a medical degree.

Catherine Ramos

Catherine Ramos is a biology major from Newburgh and a recipient of the esteemed Frederick Douglass merit-based scholarship as well as federal grants to support her education. Despite working as a student staff member within Residential Life as well as holding jobs during academic breaks, Ramos has found time to do research and volunteer in clinical settings. Ramos exudes a love of science and medicine and is particularly interested in conducting research as part of her training, saying that understanding “the basis for medicine” and specifically autoimmune diseases is a motivator for her future career.

Omolabake (Grace) Fagbenro

Omolabake (Grace) Fagbenro emigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria when she was 11 years old and says her mother, a nurse, was her inspiration to enter the medical field. Fagbenro distinctly remembers the effort her mother put into continuing her nursing career upon arriving in the United States after learning her nursing qualifications in Nigeria did not apply here. Fagbenro speaks about the benefits of truly understanding two cultures and speaks both English and Yoruba, a dialect in Nigeria. When asked what special attribute she would bring to AMC, she said “people need doctors who look like them.”

Monique John

Monique John is a biochemistry/molecular biology major who is proud to have worked as a waitress, tutor and camp counselor throughout college to support herself. She is in the process of completing her certification as a PCT and hopes to begin working as a PCT this spring. Having always liked science, her desire to apply that passion towards a career in medicine was solidified when her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. John said she observed a need for more black women in medicine and remembers feeling that doctors were not able to relate to her grandmother. John said that she believed her dream was coming true when she received word that she qualified for the UAlbany/AMC EAPP, and is thankful for the opportunity to be able to “serve people like her.”

Ann-Marie Wilhelm

Ann-Marie Wilhelm majors in biochemistry/molecular biology and is in the Honors College. Her parents immigrated to the United States from Nigeria and as a result, Wilhelm speaks two languages — English and Yoruba. Wilhelm’s brother has autism and she said he has had a tremendous impact on her. She explains that it was “all hands on deck” raising him and every family member knew they carried a “real responsibility.” This experience has given Wilhelm a true appreciation of the factors underpinning quality of life and for the opportunities that an intact mind and education provide an individual. She first became interested in medicine in high school when she was accepted into the New York State-sponsored New Visions Program, which provides high school students with immersion experiences in health care settings. She is passionate about tutoring, particularly students who need extra assistance because of language barriers. She has learned to “meet the students where they are,” – a lesson that will surely help her when she is a physician.

Zoey Bert

Zoey Bert is a biology major and first-generation college student. She has had a long-standing interest in science but said she didn’t know what direction to take it until she took an anatomy and physiology course in high school, which increased her fascination with the human body and medicine. Bert has volunteered at St. Joseph’s Hospital on Long Island and when asked what she does for fun, she replied “science!” She is proudly the only non-physics major in Physics Club, having joined “to participate in the cool science experiments that they do.”

View last year’s announcement for more information on the partnership.

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