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September 17, 2010

Nine African-American Students Begin Studies at SIU

Nine African-American students in the Class of 2014 started their training in August at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. 

“I am pleased to see the number of African-American students in this class.  Statistically, students from underrepresented groups are more likely to practice among under-served populations and to choose the general practice of medicine over specialization,” said Dr. Wesley G. McNeese, executive assistant to the dean for diversity, multicultural and minority affairs at SIU.  “Having these students here at SIU speaks well for the future of more accessible medical care in the state of Illinois and in our country.”

McNeese, who is a 1986 medical school graduate of SIU, attributes the increase in 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 2014 began the year by participating in a “white coat” ceremony, which welcomes students into the profession.  The class has 39 men and 36 women including nine African-American students.  The nine students in the class are –

Alicia D. Altheimer is the daughter of Kevin Altheimer and Denise Altheimer, both of Chicago,
Kenton J. Barnett is the son of Kenton and Roslyn Barnett of Houston, Texas,
Aisha D. Franklin is the daughter of Stanley and Ronda Franklin of East St. Louis,
Keith A. Jacobs is the son of Keith Jacobs Sr. of Freemont, Calif., and Patricia Jacobs-Sloan of Belmont, Calif.,
Dionna M. Mathews is the daughter of Darryl and Mildred Mathews of Dayton, Ohio,
Kevin M. Simon is the son of Mauclair and Lydie Simon of Brooklyn, N.Y.,
Andrea L. Ulysse is the daughter of Doltrice Gabriel and Augustine John of St. George’s, Granada, and is married to John Ulysse from Boston, Mass.,
Marie Vera is the daughter of the late Percy O. Vera and the late Barbara J. Vera of Dayton, Ohio, and
Josiah J. Zubairu is the son of Dan and Habiba Zubairu of Nigeria.

During the ceremony in Carbondale, the students received their first white coats from Dr. Erik Constance, associate dean of student affairs and a 1988 graduate, and Dr. Deborah Klamen, associate dean for education and curriculum and professor and chair of medical education.  The coats were provided by the School’s Alumni Society. 

The students also received a pin made up of the words “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 52 (18 percent) minority (underrepresented groups) students 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 this year is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its founding.  Based in Carbondale and Springfield, the medical school is focused on the health care needs of downstate Illinois.  It is specifically oriented to educating physicians prepared to practice in Illinois communities and has graduated 2,336 physicians including 212 minorities since the first class in 1975.  Its Web site is