The MOE Scholars program created by a pre-med student dedicated to exposing black youth to the medical field is currently helping students at the Columbus City Preparatory for boys. Credit: Courtesy of Maurice Lathan

For one student, what started with the loss of a loved one turned into a passion for changing lives.

Maurice Lathan, a fifth year in health sciences and biology, decided he wanted to become a doctor after losing his grandmother to illness. He said he noticed a lack of African Americans in the medical field, which led him to create a program called MOE Scholars – Medicine, Opportunity and Engagement – to expose black youth to the medical field at Columbus Preparatory for Boys. .

Lathan said he was one of six students selected in 2018 for the William F. Pickard Fellowship, a program that develops student leaders interested in economic issues affecting African American communities. The program is managed by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Frank W. Hale Jr. Black Cultural Center, and the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center.

After conducting research for the program, Lathan said he found that the lack of African Americans in the medical field increases implicit biases, leading to negative health outcomes and affecting confidence and performance. drugs given to patients of different races. He added that he also discovered that people wanted to be treated by people who looked like them, and that more African Americans entering the medical field could increase the number of African Americans who were submit to examinations.

“The goal of MOE fellows is to let black youth know that black men and women are in the medical field. We can be lawyers and we can be doctors. If we get more black doctors, we’ll have more help from black doctors in underserved communities, ”Lathan said.

Lathan said he received a grant under the scholarship program to implement MOE fellows at Columbus Preparatory for Boys, a school he mentored for three years through the Bell National Resource Center.

“My goal at this particular school is to spark an interest at their age to let them know that there are people in this field who are like them. It’s about inspiring them to be who they want to be, ”Lathan said.

Towards the end of November, Lathan said he introduced the program to boys in grades six to eight and brought a sign-up sheet to gauge their interest. This semester, he said he meets 21 boys every Friday.

“Going in and seeing the 21 kids excited and ready for the program was my favorite part,” Lathan said. “It was the assertion that my program is wanted.”

Lathan said the program will provide a visual representation of what men and women do in the medical field, provide information on the various options in the field, take them on a tour of the medical campus and the Anatomy Lab. Ohio State and will conduct experiments.

“I think it will benefit students because in the black community, especially in public schools, they don’t get proper education on specific skills. At their age, they don’t know the different jobs and specialties that you can step into, ”Lathan said. “Providing them with the resources and education will help them find out what they really want to do. “

Lathan said he chose seven pre-med Ohio State African-American students, all sophomores and juniors, with whom he worked closely to mentor the students. He said they were chosen based on their GPA, passions and involvement on campus.

Prosper Ssekayombya, a fourth-year biology student and mentor for MOE fellows, said he and Lathan became friends as pre-med students through the NCB’s mentoring program.

“I think it’s an important program because if we can inspire an interest in the medical field, it will be effective because if they see us at the level where we are now, I think it will help them to be convinced that it is. is something possible and they have the potential to do it, ”Ssekayombya said.

Lathan said he is currently working on implementing the program at a high school and hopes to expand the program to the Ohio State campus for students.

“I want to get scholarships for the students who complete the program that will contribute to the cost of medical school, to give them a little boost after graduation,” Lathan said. “I’m trying to make this program as big as possible – all across Ohio to help people achieve their dreams and grow the black community.”

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