A group of promising Kean students took a trip recently to the Ivy League standard-bearer Harvard University for a conference dedicated to motivating minorities aiming for careers in medicine.
Karen Grisales, a Kean sophomore, and nine other Kean students attended a conference February 4 and 5 sponsored by the Latino Medical Student Association at Harvard.
“It was a conference specifically targeting Latinos and African-Americans to motivate them to keep interested in medical careers,’’ Grisales said. “It also focused on teaching them how to become better leaders.’’
Guest speakers included such prominent doctors such as Pedro Jose, a noted pediatrics professor at George Washington University.
“He basically told students gathered at the conference that just because you come from an urban place, it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve your goals,’’ Grisales said. “He also stressed that once you achieve your goals, you must give back to the community.’’
The conference also included workshops where attendees were able to talk with admissions counselors at medical schools across the nation. The counselors advised students about the application process, courses they should take to attain acceptance in the schools and acceptable grade point averages.
“They also told us to focus on community service and leadership,’’ Grisales said. “For example, a person could have a 4.0 grade point average but what many medical schools are looking for are the students who do the community service, work as an EMT or shadow a doctor. They think that kind of student benefits more than one who only has the great grades.’’
Grisales said it was enlightening for her and others in the Kean group to spend time talking with pre-med students from Harvard.
“We got to speak with them about the MCAT test,’’ she said. “They told us to stay focused and were very encouraging. Talking to them was reassuring and let me know that the career path I’ve chosen is the right one. And I got to see the change that I can bring to the Latino and African-American community through this career.’’
Grisales, who founded Kean’s Pre-Med Club earlier this year, said the club’s next meeting on February 28 will focus on lessons learned from the conference. The fledgling pre-med club has a membership of 80 members but Grisales would like to see it flourish even more with more members and conferences.
“We hope to attract more students as the semester goes on and the word spreads out,’’ she said.
As for the conference, she said there’s only one word to describe it: “Inspirational!’’
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