Eight Minority Students Begin Studies at SIU School of Medicine

August 24, 2016

Eight minority medical students in the Class of 2020 began their medical training last week at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Carbondale. 

“We continue to attract a diversity of students, which helps us address the health care needs of the population,” said Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion Wesley McNeese, MD, who presented the students. “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, networking opportunities with local minority physicians and MEDPREP, a two-year, post-baccalaureate program of SIU School of Medicine in Carbondale that has helped more than 1,000 students matriculate into medical or dental school since it began in 1972. 

All the students in the Class of 2020 began the year by participating in the “White Coat Ceremony,” which welcomes students into the profession. The class has 46 men and 31 women, eight of whom are minorities.

Class of 2020 Minority Students: 

Robert Gause-Wills, son of Therman and Brenda Wills of Lansing, Mich.

Dorene Hinton, daughter of Ray and Doris Hinton of Country Club Hills, Ill.

Tatiana Kelley, daughter of Sinoda Kelley of San Leandro, Calif., and Tanya Hollins of Hayward, Calif.

Abigail Levy, daughter of Rene Levy and Dr. Michelle Fouche-Levy of Steger, Ill.

Erica Maduakolam of Bloomfield, N.J., daughter of Leonard Maduakolam of Irvington, N.J.

Dolapo Oseni of Chicago, daughter of Tunji and Funmi Oseni of Chicago

Ticara Onyewuenyi, spouse of Alvin Onyewuenyi of Sugarland, Texas, and daughter of Claudia Sykes of Fremont, Calif.

Khandase Tate-Nero, spouse of Harold Nero of Grand Coteau, La., and daughter of Kimberly Reed of St. Louis

During the ceremony, Debra Klamen, MD, MHPE, associate dean for education and curriculum and chair of the Department of Medical Education, welcomed the students and read the Hippocratic Oath. Elizabeth Cavanagh, MD, an anesthesiologist in St. Louis and a member of the Class of 1998, gave the students their first white coat, which is provided by the School’s Alumni Society. The students also received a pin containing the words “Compassion, Respect and Integrity” from the SIU Foundation.

Martha Hlafka, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine, gave the keynote speech. She received the School’s 2015 Humanism in Medicine Award.

The White Coat Ceremony is designed to establish a “psychological contract for professionalism and empathy” in medicine and is held at most U.S. medical schools each fall.

Established in 1970, SIU School of Medicine is based in Springfield and Carbondale and focused on the health care needs of downstate Illinois. It educates physicians to practice in Illinois communities and has graduated more than 2,754 physicians since the first class in 1975.