Students in the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences program stay busy in and out of the classroom, with academic and research presentations, community service activities, and an array of awards and honors.
Student Community Service and Engagement
Hosting Opportunities and Mentorship Involving Education and STEM
Isaiah Hoffman and Daniel Adade are two Interdisciplinary Health Science Master’s students with very different backgrounds. Despite their different upbringings, the two were able to identify an obvious lack of resources within their communities.
Daniel, being of Ghanaian descent, moved to the city of Worcester, Massachusetts at the age of 13, where he discovered the many misconceptions and lack of education black students had about Africa and the African culture. “I remember my teachers calling Africa a country. I also remember having to repeat myself all the time because people didn’t understand my accent, even though I spoke English clearly. It took me a while to get acclimated into this country and this culture, but I always felt I had to change who I was to fit in. I never felt like a genuine safe space was created for people like me even in a diverse community like Worcester.”
On the other hand, Isaiah grew up in Los Angeles and moved to a neighboring suburb around the age of 13. From his perspective, he saw that both urban and suburban areas lacked any genuine resources dedicated toward uplifting the lives of Black students and their families. “In LA, I realized many of the nonprofits classified the lives of Black students as “minorities” in a forced effort toward making us share resources with the Hispanic and Asian families. While there were no nonprofits dedicated specifically to the livelihood of Black families, there were additional resources available dedicated specifically to the livelihoods of those Asian and Hispanic families who were also taking advantage of our shared resources.”
Though Daniel and Isaiah acknowledge the differences in their backgrounds, they believed that their unique perspectives and overall shared experiences as Black men would allow them to create a resource to uplift the lives of Black families throughout the country, despite differences in culture, socioeconomic background, education levels, etc. “The Black community is one of the few unique communities with a variety of cultures, languages and backgrounds. Though we all share the same color, we felt that there was a void in which many organizations would want to “save” inner city Black youth without attempting to learn about that individuals’ life or background.”
Daniel and Isaiah developed H.O.M.I.E.S (Hosting Opportunities and Mentorship Involving Education and STEM) Inc. to initiate their grass roots approach toward building their community. After meeting as first-year graduate students in IHS, the pair agreed in their opinion that their community needed genuine mentorship. Daniel says,” As a premedical student, I very rarely see Black doctors and nurses in the hospitals. But even when I do they are so assimilated to the culture of their workplace environment that it comes across as if they don’t care about helping the next generation of Black doctors. They seem satisfied enough that they made it through hardships, and they sometimes seem adamant that they want me to go through those exact same hardships as a rite of passage or something.
H.O.M.I.E.S Inc. primarily serves as a mentorship organization where mentors are paired with mentees who are in grades K-12. Uniquely, H.O.M.I.E.S Inc. specifically recruits and hires Black mentors from various backgrounds to pair with Black K-12 students. Isaiah says,” By pairing the Black student with Black mentors, we are giving them the chance to work with someone who has faced similar adversities. A kid who grew up in an underprivileged area may work with me since I can relate to that, and a kid who just came here from another country may work with someone like Daniel since he can relate to that experience. Because we as Black people have so many subcultures, it is important to teach these kids that a mentor should not just look like you, but should also understand your experiences to a degree so that your relationship can be based on some sort of shared perspective.”
Currently, H.O.M.I.E.S Inc. is working with Julia Reynolds Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School where they are pairing fellow Drexel graduate students to serve as mentors. Mentorship activities include on-call tutoring to work around both the mentor and mentees’ schedules, a safe space for the mentee to discuss achievements they are excited about or struggles they may be facing, and a variety of other potential activities dependent on the requests of the students. Looking ahead, H.O.M.I.E.S Inc. hopes to not only partner with more K-12 schools, but also organize more community events dedicated to celebrating Black achievements and uplifting the Black community. Feel free to stay updated with H.O.M.I.E.S Inc. events and announcements by subscribing to their Facebook page.
Class of 2021 Graduates Have an Impressive Record of Service
The College of Medicine’s Class of 2021 rose to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic by serving the community. They graduate this week having provided over 15,000 hours of community service through curricular and non-curricular activities during their time at the College of Medicine. Read more.
IHS Alumnus Continues Following In Dayna's Footprints
In spite of the disruptions of 2020, alumnus-founded organization Dayna’s Footprints had its most successful year yet, providing 150 pairs of shoes to children in need.
IHS Student Sam Sayed Follows in Dayna's Footprints (Update!)
UPDATE!! IHS Alumnus Following Dayna's Footprints
During the month of November, Sam Sayed and his brother Sharif each lifted over 1 million pounds to buy shoes for children in need. They were inspired by a memory of their sister Dayna, who tragically died in a drive-by shooting when she was 16 years old.
The brothers teamed up with a counselor at Foster Elementary in Arlington, Texas, where they had attended school. They began with a modest goal of helping out one family, but when they visited the school, they saw the need was much greater. They pushed out their call for donations, went to the gym daily, logged their weight and eventually were able to buy shoes for 53 kids.
Sayed is now working on establishing non-profit status for the charity, which he is calling Dayna's Footprints. He and his brother are hoping to turn this into an annual event and expand it to be able to help more children in need.
Read the full story.
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IHS Student Shayna Zanker Recognized for Volunteer Efforts
Shayna Zanker has been volunteering with Bethesda Project during her time in the IHS program. She shared her experience during a virtual volunteer fair aimed at recruiting future supporters for the organization. This and all her efforts for Bethesda Project were highlighted in the "Moments That Matter" section of their January 2021 Family Matters newsletter.
View the newsletter
IHS Student Lesley Desriviere Founds Scholarship and Mentorship Program
Lesley Desriviere always knew he wanted to become a doctor, but he didn’t know any African American doctors when he was growing up. It wasn’t clear to him how to get from point A to point B. That is until his junior year at Boston University, when he met a mentor who helped get him on track. Wanting to give back, he founded Together We're Giants, a scholarship and mentorship program for African American high school students interested in pursuing a STEM degree in college.
Read the full story
PALS Program Helps High Schoolers with STEM Subjects
PALS program founders Stephen Acheampong (left) and Quincy Akaba
IHS students Stephen Acheampong and Quincy Akaba stepped into leaders roles for PALS, Promoting Achievement and Learning through Science. PALS is a program designed for graduate students to support inner-city middle school youth at Spring Garden School. Using hands-on experience, graduate student volunteers assist teachers in the seventh and eighth grade classrooms through small-group tutoring sessions designed to aid students with their academics, specifically math and sciences.
During small group tutoring sessions, graduate students are matched up with a group of students of varying academic levels within the same grade. Being with peers who are struggling with the same subject matter, students will be more willing to learn and engage in the subject matter without fear of criticism by fellow classmates. PALS volunteers are also welcomed to aid students with homework, science fairs and class projects as part of their after-school programs.
The presence of graduate student volunteers in the classrooms introduces young students to an array of career paths and higher education opportunities. Setting this example is not only impactful to the youth, but to the volunteer themselves. The PALS program aims to foster an environment of learning, academic support and leadership for young minds.
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Explore & Serve Poster Presentation Day
Since 2018, the Division of Pre-medical and Pre-health Programs has sponsored the Explore & Serve Poster Presentation Day, in which HIS students participate. The purpose of this event is to provide students an opportunity to showcase the projects they conduct as graduate students, both in research and in community service. The critical thinking and analytical skills developed while conducting biomedical research enable the students to become better diagnosticians and practitioners of evidence-based medicine. Likewise, the communication and interpersonal skills honed through community service projects help them to become health care practitioners who can better serve patients, their families and their communities.
2022 Explore & Serve
The Division of Pre-medical and Pre-health Programs held its fifth annual Explore & Serve Day on April 8, 2022. This event is dedicated to recognizing our students’ outstanding contributions to either biomedical science research or community service endeavors. Students gave face-to-face oral and poster presentations for the first time since 2019. View photos.
2021 Explore & Serve
The Division of Pre-medical and Pre-health Programs held its fourth annual Explore & Serve Day virtually on April 1, 2021. This event is dedicated to recognizing our students’ outstanding contributions to either biomedical science research or community service endeavors.
2020 Explore & Serve
On April 20, 2020, Interdisciplinary Health Science program students presented at Explore & Serve Poster Presentation Day, sponsored by the Division of Pre-medical and Pre-health Programs. The goal and purpose of the event is to provide our students an opportunity to showcase the projects they conducted as graduate students in the division, both in research and in community service.
The critical thinking and analytical skills developed while conducting biomedical research enable our graduates to become better diagnosticians and practitioners of evidence-based medicine. Likewise, the communication and interpersonal skills honed through community service projects help our students to become health care practitioners who can better serve patients, their families, and their communities.
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2018 Explore & Serve
On April 9, 2018, Interdisciplinary Health Science program students presented at the inaugural Explore & Serve Poster Presentation Day, sponsored by the Division of Pre-medical and Pre-health Programs.
The goal and purpose of the event was to provide students with the opportunity to showcase the projects they conducted as graduate students in the division, both in research and community service.
The skills developed while conducting biomedical research enable our graduates to become better diagnosticians and practitioners of evidence-based medicine. Community service projects allow our students to develop skills that will help them become health care practitioners who can better serve patients and their families, as well as the community.
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Research Events, Presentations and Other Honors
Discovery Day - October 27, 2022
Grace Sandel, IHS class of 2022, presented "Co-Infection and Cancer: Host-Pathogen Interaction between Dendritic Cells and HIV-1, HTLV-1, and Other Oncogenic Viruses." Sameika Graham, IHS class of 2022, presented “Impact of Mobile Covid-19 Testing in Communities of Philadelphia.”
IHS Alum Okoye Awarded POMA Scholarship
Congratulations to IHS program graduate Frederick Okoye who was awarded a POMA scholarship. "Since my undergraduate years, healthcare advocacy for underserved populations has been one of my passions. It remains a huge reason for my interest in becoming a physician. It was a big reason I created numerous community outreach events, encouraging collaboration and serving as a conduit between established medical institutions and Philadelphia residents. It remains the reason why I mentor pre-med students who demonstrate similar interests in helping narrow the disparity gaps that have persisted throughout American history among marginalized groups. To get recognition from an organization like POMA for doing something I genuinely feel this strongly about fills me with extreme gratitude and only motivates me to continue this work." The Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA) scholarship is designed to honor a student or resident who has done exceptional outreach to populations considered to have significant health disparities due to race, gender, sexual orientation or economic status. Learn more.
Golden Dragon Awards Honor Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Students
First- and second-year Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Health Sciences (IHS) students recently celebrated one another’s diverse accomplishments, interpersonal skills and positive impact on the program at a virtual Golden Dragon Award ceremony, held via Zoom.
Cheer 'Em on Award
Esin Bulut, Class of 2021, and Nastasha Teckham, Class of 2020, won the Cheer 'Em on Award for giving their peers exceptional support and positive feedback.
Leader of the Pack Award
Gabriela Sarriera, Class of 2021, and Thu Bui, Class of 2020, won the Leader of the Pack Award for providing outstanding leadership to their peers.
IHS Spirit Award
Brianna Hector, Class of 2021, and John Thomas, Class of 2020, won the IHS Spirit Award for their pride in being part of the program, and for their support of its goals and missions.
Jehron Pura Bryant and Steven Sims, both Class of 2021, and Corey Johnson, Class of 2020, won the Hustle Award for distinguishing themselves by their strong work ethic, positive attitude and performance.
Outstanding Teaching Assistant
Syeda Sarder, Class of 2020, won the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for providing exceptional support to students while serving as a teaching assistant.
Best Student Mentor
Faith Blamon, Class of 2020, won the Best Student Mentor Award for her exceptional mentoring of first-year IHS students.
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IHS Alum Stephen Rogers Gives 2019 Commencement Address
Stephen Rogers, who completed the IHS program in spring 2014, graduated from the MD program at Drexel University College of Medicine in May 2019. Stephen was selected by his classmates to give the student speech at Commencement.
Khalil Taylor Receives Honor at 2019 Dr. Wilbert C. Jordan Research Forum
Khalil Taylor, a second-year IHS student, was the winner of the Post-Baccalaureate/Graduate Student Poster Award at the 2019 Dr. Wilbert C. Jordan Research Forum on April 19, 2019. His study, which was called "Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences, Psychological Distress, and Perceived Health in Urban Violently-Injured Young Adults," was coauthored by Theodore Corbin, MD, MPP, and Daria B. Waite, MPH, MSW, Department of Emegency Medicine; and John A. Rich, MD, MPH, and Loni P. Tabb, PhD, Dornsife School of Public Health.
Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Alumni at 2018 Discovery Day
Two Interdisciplinary Health Science program alumni, Hana Kebede and Jeremy Weinberger (Class of 2018), presented posters at Discovery Day, Drexel's annual day of research hosted by the Graduate School for Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies. Hana and Jeremy now work as research assistants in the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy. Hana is mentored by Itzhak Fischer, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy. Jeremy is mentored by Shaoping Hou, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy.
Hana Kebede, IHS '18
Jeremy Weinberger, IHS '18
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Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Students Present Research at 2018 National Reproductive Health Conference
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children's Division of Adolescent Medicine, via The Teen and Young Adult program, awarded travel scholarships to Interdisciplinary Health Science program students Sherice Simpson and Ijeoma Unachukwu. Sherice and Ijeoma presented three posters at the National Reproductive Health Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, on July 15-18, 2018. Interdisciplinary Health Science program student Jhoneil Cooper also contributed to the research presented. Mentoring and scholarship support from Enitan Adegite, MD, and colleagues at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children to Interdisciplinary Health Science program graduate students opened excellent opportunities for professional development and research on best practices in providing reproductive health care to our community.
The poster titles and contributing authors were:
- "Continuing the journey: Supporting Nexplanon adherence among adolescents"
Haley Breslin-Foulkrod, MPH; Darnielle A. Williams, MSHEd; Ijeoma Unachukwu, BS; Kimberly Neidig, MD; Latanya Deeb, BA; Lydia White; Nadja G. Peter, MD; Enitan Adegite, MD, MPH
- "Pregnancy, STD & Contraception Rates in an Urban Clinic"
Sherice Simpson, MS; Katie Feehan, MPH; LaTanya Deeb, BA; Renee Turchi, MD, MPH; Darnielle Williams, MSHEd; Haley Breslin-Foulkrod, MPH; Enitan Adegite, MD, MPH
- "Discovering Seasonal Trends in Teenage Pregnancy in an Adolescent Medicine Clinic"
Toyin Erinle, MD, MPH; Jhoneil Cooper, MPH; Simpson Sherice, MS; Darnielle A. Williams, MSHEd; Haley Breslin-Foulkrod, MPH; LaTanya Deeb, BA; Katie Feehan, MPH; Renee Turchi, MD, MPH; Enitan Adegite, MD, MPH
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2017 Golden Dragon Awards
On March 16, 2017, the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences program presented its Golden Dragon Awards, which recognize the multifarious accomplishments of first- and second-year IHS students who excel in their academic, research, and interpersonal skills. The Golden Dragon Awards also thank IHS students for their positive contributions to the program.
This year's awardees included:
- David Dugue, IHS Rising Star (Fall 2016)
- Melissa Urquhart, IHS Rising Star (Spring 2017)
- John Spikes, IHS Spirit Award (1st year)
- Tyler Wilkinson, IHS Spirit Award (2nd year)
- Hana Kebede, Hustle Award (1st year)
- Victoria McIlrath, Hustle Award (2nd year)
- Ijeoma Unachukwu, Heart of IHS Award (1st year)
- Ahlivia Mattocks, Heart of IHS Award (2nd year)
- Abigail Haba, Strongest Starter Award
- Rody Alexis, Cheer 'Em On Award (1st year)
- Gifty Barfi, Cheer 'Em On Award (2nd Year)
- Victoria Barnes, Leader of the Pack Award (1st year)
- Ekta Panjrolia, Leader of the Pack (2nd year)
- Ronnie Shade, Best Student Mentor
- Antoinette Bell, Outstanding Teaching Assistant
- Gardith Edouard, Research Project Award
Student & Alumni Notes
Nikkisha Mills, MS Interdisciplinary Health Sciences ’18, graduated from the School of Medicine of Wayne State University’s Pre-Medical program. She is interested in emergency medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, and surgery, with a research interest in infectious disease. (Pulse Winter 2021)