Cleveland pipeline program wins STEM award

Aug 30, 2018

Aspiring DOctors students learn from Heritage College faculty.

The Aspiring DOctors Precollege Program offered at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Cleveland is one of two OHIO programs to be honored with a 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education.

Aspiring DOctors is a comprehensive three-year pipeline program for underrepresented minority high school students from Cleveland-area schools who are interested in careers in health care and science. The program offers a mix of academic STEM enrichment, personal mentoring and hands-on learning activities.

The Inspiring Programs in STEM Award honors colleges and universities that encourage and assist students from underrepresented groups to enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Launched in 2016, the Aspiring DOctors program has attracted funding support from entities including the St. Luke’s Foundation, the Cyrus Eaton Foundation, the city of Warrensville Heights, and the state of Ohio’s Community Connectors program, which awarded Aspiring DOctors an $83,000 grant in 2017.

Shortly after the campus welcomed its first medical students in July 2015, Isaac Kirstein, D.O., dean of the Heritage College, Cleveland, challenged staffers to come up with a comprehensive plan to increase underrepresented minority enrollment. In response, Terra Ndubuizu, senior director of campus administration at the college’s Cleveland campus, and Samantha Baker, assistant director of admissions and outreach, designed the Aspiring DOctors program after studying pipeline programs at other medical schools.

The program graduated its first senior class in 2017, when 12 young men and women from Warrensville Heights High School, who were in the initial set of Cleveland-area high school students to take part in Aspiring DOctors, completed the program and headed to college, most of them aiming at careers in health care. Thanks to funding from program supporters, each of these students received a scholarship to further their education.

Ndubuizu, who directs the Aspiring DOctors program, has called it “truly inspiring” to follow the first students’ progress. “I watched firsthand as this program gave the students increased levels of confidence, self-awareness, motivation and engagement about their education and their future,” she said.

Kirstein has said the program represents “a big part of how we define ourselves at the Cleveland campus of the Heritage College. It validates the priority we at Ohio University place on partnering with, and improving, the communities we call home.”

The other OHIO program to receive the award was Tech Savvy OHIO, for girls in grades 6-9 from the Appalachian region in Ohio and West Virginia. It offers participants a full day of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) activities with real scientists. It is sponsored by the American Association of University Women, with support from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity, the Women’s Center, and the departments of Environmental & Plant Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Physics & Astronomy and the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Ohio University will be featured along with 77 other award recipients in the September 2018 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Read more about this story on the OHIO Compass news site.