Eight Minority Students Begin Studies at SIU School of Medicine


August 28, 2014

Eight Minority Students Begin Studies at SIU School of Medicine


Eight newly-enrolled minority students at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine are (from left): Antonio Martin, Pascal Accoh, Theodore Harper, Marlon Brown, Andrianna Stephens, Veronica Whittington-Thorton, Christine Sulmers and Christa Harlin

Eight minority students in the Class of 2018 started their training in August at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.

“We continue to attract a diversity of students, which helps us address the health-care needs of the population,” said Dr. Wesley G. McNeese, executive assistant to the dean for diversity, multicultural and minority affairs at SIU. “Statistically, students from underrepresented groups are more likely to practice among underserved populations and to choose the general practice of medicine over specialization.”

McNeese, who is a 1986 medical school graduate of SIU, attributes the number of minority students to focused recruitment strategies from the Office of Admissions, increased advocacy by the School’s diversity office and networking opportunities with local minority physicians.

All students in the Class of 2018 began the year by participating in a “white coat” ceremony, which welcomes students into the profession. The class has 44 men and 28 women. The eight minority students in the class are

Pascal Accoh is the son of Ellaye Accoh and Angeline Accoh of Chicago.

Marlon Brown II is the son of Rita (Joseph) Scott of Olympia Fields, Ill.

Christa Harlin is the daughter of Ken and Cardillia Harlin of Bolingbrook, Ill.

Theodore Harper is the son of Theodore and Carolyn Harper of Fayetteville, Ga.

Antonio Martin is the son of Berdale Strong of Oakwood Village, Ohio, and Sonya Martin of Fairborn, Ohio.

Adrianna Stephens is the daughter of Clifford Watson of Maple Heights, Ohio, and Tara Lee of Cleveland, Ohio.

Christine Sulmers is the daughter of Maria Febrier of New York, N.Y. and the late Dalton Sulmers.

Veronica Whittington is the daughter of Mary Whittington of Hattiesburg, Miss., and the late Lionel Whittington and the wife of Williebe Thorton of Marion, Ill.

During the August 15 ceremony in Carbondale, the students received their first white coats from the president of the School’s Alumni Society, Dr. James Cunnar, a family medicine physician in Naperville and a 1994 graduate. The School’s Alumni Society provided the coats.

The students also received a lapel pin that reads “Compassion, Respect and Integrity” from the SIU Foundation. The event is designed to establish a psychological contract of professionalism and empathy in medicine.

Currently a total of 34 minority students (12 percent) are enrolled in the SIU medical school. “Minorities,” as determined by the Association of American Medical Colleges, are the racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population and include African-American, Hispanic, Native American and Alaskan Native.

Established in 1970, SIU School of Medicine is based in Carbondale and Springfield and focused on the health-care needs of downstate Illinois. It educates physicians to practice in Illinois communities and has graduated 2,615 physicians, including 254 minorities, since the first class in 1975. Its website is www.siumed.edu.

Media Contacts

Karen Carlson,
SIU, 217-545-3854

Lauren Murphy,
SIU, 217-545-2819


Phone 217-545-8000
P.O. Box 19620
Springfield, IL 62794-9620
The mission of the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine is to assist the people of central and southern Illinois in meeting their health care needs through education, patient care, research, and service to the community.


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