By Dawn Scotland
Sojourner’s Truth Reporter
First year medical students were invited to a welcoming reception hosted by the President’s Committee on African American Recruitment and Scholarship Support (PCARS) held at the University of Toledo Medical College Health Education Building Friday evening October 1, 2021.
The event was held to support the underrepresented minority groups at the college including Black, Latino, Asian and Native American students. PCARS is a committee created to recruit and retain African American students at UTMC. The initiative was first launched in 2016 as a fundraiser at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of pastor Rev. James Willis.
Dr. Monica Holiday-Goodman, MD, (interim dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies) and Dr. Kimberly Jenkins, MD, (interim chair of Anesthesiology and Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Medicine and Life Science) provided the welcome for the event.
The evening included a soul food dinner, mixer and student panel. Community members, faculty, staff and local medical professionals were in attendance showing their support and providing resources to incoming students, many of which are new to the city.
The keynote speaker for the evening was Alaina Durden, second year medical student and president of the Toledo Chapter of the Student National Medical Association. She gave encouraging words to her new schoolmates “Now the real work has really begun… everything you need to succeed is already within you… you have all the help you need.” Durden provided advice about life balance as well as an open discussion about mental health in medical school.
Many of these same questions were raised in the open panel discussion where fourth year student Darren Gordon, second year student Alaina Durden, third year student Brianna Smith, second year student Ore Afon and fourth year student Antonio Jackson served as panelists and answered questions about studying habits, life balance, relationships and testing anxiety. The veteran students offered candid accounts about their experiences including their struggles and triumphs and gave new students practical advice for their journey.
The evening concluded with Dr Goodman and Dr. Jenkins providing gift bags to the new students as they continued their night. Dr. Goodman closed, “You are supported. You belong here. And we are going to do everything to make sure you graduate.”
Pictured top right: Christopher Cooper, MD, Dean of the College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Yvette Perry, PhD, Associate Dean for Admissions in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences; Monica Holiday-Goodman, PhD, Interim Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Studies; James Willis, Pastor of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church; Carolina Wishner, MD, Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Medicine and Life Sciences (COMLC); Kimberly Jenkins, MD, Interim Chair of Anesthesiology and Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Medicine and Life Science