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Pre-Med group sparks interest among minorities

 The plight of underrepresented minorities in the healthcare profession has urged students at UMBC to spearhead a new group called the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students.

The Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students, or MAPS, represents the undergraduate and postbaccalaureate students of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), which is a subdivision of the National Medical Association.

Founded in 1964, during the tumultuous period of the Civil Rights movement, SNMA was established to encourage current and future medical students, especially those of color, in the pursuit of careers as physicians. The student-run organization now consists of over 6,000 members around the country and in the Caribbean.

The MAPS at UMBC organization held its inaugural meeting last Friday in The Commons, attracting around two-dozen potential members. This initiative of the SNMA was launched in hopes of diversifying the field of medicine.

After a visit to Johns Hopkins that targeted underrepresented minorities, Ashleigh Omorogbe, junior biology and public health double major and president of MAPS at UMBC, set her eyes on forming a chapter at UMBC after discussing logistics with SNMA stakeholders.

"I was inspired to form this organization at UMBC to create a support group of dedicated students who are determined to enter the medical field and give back to their communities", said Omorogbe.
UMBC currently has groups focused on assisting minority candidates with interests of entering medical fields. Junior Blossom Tewelde, parliamentarian for the group and biochemisty major, believes these factions have lost the ability to connect with their members.

Tewelde said, "At UMBC, there are some groups with similar goals as ours, but a common complaint has been that students can't relate to the leaders or speakers because they weren't minorities."
UMBC's chapter hopes to tailor its focus on creating excellent candidates of color for the medical field through a series of avenues. Senior chemical engineering major and Public Relations officer for the organization, Dalton Hughes, has already begun the thinking behind the process.

"My role is to serve as liaison to various chapters and collaborate with them to shape a workable model for our vision" said Hughes. Hughes also mentioned the importance of featuring speakers and workshops that resonate with the diversity of their group.

Hughes understands the group is still in its infancy but that this new beginning also positions them at a strategic vantage point.

Hughes said, "In our early stages we have made an effort to speak with local chapters at Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland at Baltimore. This gives us the advantage to hear from others who have experience and allows us to gauge the best possible path for our chapter."

These partnerships may forge a lasting bond and strengthen the network for all involved members. While some partnerships are formed naturally, others are mandatory for newly established chapters. Each new chapter requires a sponsor and UMBC's MAPS has sought the guidance of University of Maryland at Baltimore.

Each year SNMA and MAPS members gather for the Annual Medical Education Conference. The next conference will be held next year in Louisville, Ky. on March 28 through 31.

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