Student Profiles of the 2019 Arnstein Scholarship Recipients

Published September 23, 2019



AACOM is committed to fostering excellence and promoting diversity in osteopathic medical education (OME). One of the ways that AACOM fulfills this mission is to award the annual Sherry R. Arnstein Minority Student Scholarship to deserving students. Arnstein awardees are chosen through an application process which includes personal essays on their experiences, contributions to diversity in OME, and ideas about innovative ways to increase student diversity. This year, AACOM received 158 applications and selected five outstanding osteopathic medical students to receive scholarships. Each student received a five-thousand-dollar scholarship award. The William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine matched the Arnstein award.

Please read excerpts from the students’ award-winning essays below: 

Renee Crawford, A.T. Still University School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona

Photo (from left to right): Jeffrey W. Morgan, DO, MA, FACOI, Dean of ATSU-SOMA; and Renee Crawford

"The benefit of being a medical school student in the 21st century is that, albeit you may be one of the few in your class or school, you are NOT the first in the profession. A URM medical student should reflect on the shoulders they stand on. I would encourage URM students to read memoirs of other physicians, including physicians of color, who’ve had to overcome adversity."

"Having a strong support group, family, and friends, are critical to advancing in medical school. Hearing the constant encouragement of 'you can do it' is unmatchable. As Dr. Carson stated in his memoir, his mother’s constant 'You can do it Benny' translated to him going from bottom of his fifth-grade class to world renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. It’s a necessity to have “you can do it” in your back pocket."

Darian Harris, William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine

Photo (from left to right): Italo Subbarao, DO, MBA, Dean of WCUCOM; Darian Harris; and Tommy King, WCU President & CEO

"I have yet to meet another Black medical student who has not had a teacher or advisor discourage them from applying to medical school. In today’s society, social media has an immense impact. Having a social media campaign highlighting underrepresented minority osteopathic students and DO’s can encourage future doctors through representation. Also requiring cultural awareness training as part of medical school curriculum could not only improve colleague interactions, but patient interactions as well."

"Since I have been in medical school, I have been working with my school to recruit underrepresented minority students. This year I asked the admissions department to notify me whenever there is a minority interviewee. As SNMA president, I am able to pass this information along to my chapter so that we can welcome the student and answer questions they have. Each interviewee has reached out to me afterwards to express their gratitude."

Najaha Musse, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine—Virginia

Photo (from left to right): Najaha Musse and Jan M. Willcox, DO, FACOFP, Dean for VCOM-Virginia Campus

"Medical schools must understand the importance of training doctors who are not only knowledgeable and effective in their understanding of the science and art of medicine, but also their ability to understand, communicate, and build rapport with patients of color. The primary purpose of this profession is to help patients lead healthy lives. This requires an expertise in the practices, tools, and methods of medicine alongside customer service skills: the ability to engage the patient in their own care plan."

"A holistic admissions process highlights characteristics of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background; characteristics that link directly to higher rates of improved health outcomes for patients of color."

Andrew Villasenor, Lincoln Memorial University—DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine

Photo (from left to right): Brian A. Kessler, DO, FACOFPVice President and Dean of LMU-DCOM; and Andrew Villasenor

"I am most proud of being the vice president of one of our medical organizations, Bella Soul. It is the mission of Bella Soul to empower college students confronting chronic illness or disability through scholarships and emotional support. I am most proud of the scholarships that we give to college students with chronic illnesses."

"An idea I have to promote osteopathic medicine to underrepresented minority students is starting Virtual Grand Rounds (VGR). I have seen that other medical student committees have “gotomeetings” with physicians, researchers, social workers, etc, who present on a topic pertaining to that specialty which are open to students to attend online for free."

Kevin Wortman, Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine—Auburn

Photo (from left to right): Gary R. Hill, DO, FACOI, Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs; Kevin Wortman; Elizabeth A. Palmarozzi, DO, FACOFP, Dean for VCOM-Auburn Campus

"I attended the American Society of Neural Therapy and Repair conference in Clearwater, Florida. During a poster presentation session, I vividly remember surveying the room and being discouraged at the lack of African American representation. After processing this moment later in the day, I understood how being in the field of neuroscience is such an honor and a blessing. I am exposed to many ethnicities and cultures that are vastly different from my own. Celebrating these differences allows cross-cultural understanding, which leads to a larger and stronger community of researchers that work together more efficiently."

"The best solution to combat this disparity in medicine is to train those within the community, that are willing to go back a become a mentor. After graduating with my MS in neuroscience, I wanted to give back to my community. I became a science teacher to teens between the ages of twelve and eighteen, spanning subjects from middle school earth space science to high school chemistry."

The 2020 Sherry R. Arnstein Minority Student Scholarship application cycle will open in January 2020. Visit AACOM’s Sherry R. Arnstein Minority Student Scholarship web page for eligibility information, application deadlines, and more.