Springfield teens complete SIU physician prep program

Published Date:
Fourteen Springfield-area high school students are better prepared
to become physicians after graduating from the Physician Pipeline Preparatory Program (P4), a four-year program sponsored by Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield Public Schools and the Sangamon County Medical Society. The P4 graduation was held in the South Auditorium at SIU’s main instructional building, 801 N. Rutledge St. on February 13.
The Pipeline Program, established in 2009, was designed to encourage local students in grades 9-12 who are interested in becoming doctors. Students are presented with case studies, laboratory experiences, guest speakers and research projects. Now in its 10th year, the program also provides leadership training and academic support, which includes sessions in math, science, communication, test-taking and verbal reasoning.
“It has been exciting to see the growth and effort of these young students during their time in P4,” said Wesley McNeese, MD, director of diversity initiatives for the SIU System and director of the program. “It’s a rigorous curriculum and they have risen to the challenge.”
Jennifer Gill, superintendent of Springfield Public Schools District 186, congratulated the class and noted the increased importance of college and career pipelines for high school students. “Dr. McNeese was a visionary. He made the P4 a model for us to follow as we’ve developed other career connections. We want students to have these pathways that complement their learning in the classroom.”
Addressing the graduates, she said, “You have showed aptitude and you have shown enthusiasm, and you’ve showed up, taking on extra work in the evenings to pursue an extremely noble career. We are proud of you for your perseverance.”
Jerry Kruse, MD, dean and provost at SIU, was also encouraged. “This type of program is essential to the SIU School of Medicine as part of the continuum of education. You are our future ─ the health care professionals and physicians of tomorrow.”
Each year, freshmen from the local area are selected by a committee of members from SIU, the Sangamon County Medical Society and Springfield Public Schools. Students submit letters of recommendation, a personal statement and a summary of volunteer, school and community activities, all of which need to reflect superior academic performance, high levels of motivation and a sincere interest in pursuing medical careers. SIU’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion will begin accepting applications for the next class in August. The program will begin in late fall.
For more information about the P4 program, visit, or contact Dr. Wendi El-Amin at SIU, 217-545-5665 or, or Nalo Mitchell at SPS, 217-525-3047 or
Kenya Apongule, Southeast High School, parents Denise Johnson & Joseph Apongule
Isaac Becker, Springfield High School, parents Elise LoBue & PJ Becker
Lanetta Cole, Southeast High School, parents Dynetta Cole & Brady Odom
Jatin Dhamrait, Springfield High School, parents Kiran Rakalla-Dhamrait & Raj Dhamrait
Madison Dicus, Lanphier High School, parents Faith Crouch & Billy Dicus
Sarah Foster, Springfield High School, parents Laurie & Rich Foster
Josie Giacomini, Sacred Heart Griffin, parents Julie & PJ Giacomini
Caleb Grover, Home schooled, parents Lisa & Greg Grover
Gabriel Jeffrey, Faith Bible Christian Academy, parents Jean Ann & Adam Jeffrey
Michael Natty, Springfield High School, parent Leichi Nkwocha Natty
Paige Price, Southeast High School, parent Shakira Ford
Tara Sholtis, Springfield High School, parents Kelly & Joe Sholtis
Elizabeth Small, New Berlin High School, parents Laura & Ben Small
Nia Williams, Southeast High School, parents Olivia Haynes & Antwon Williams         
Photos from the event and the year are located here:

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