The esteemed Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science on Monday welcomed the first-ever batch of students enrolled in the school’s medical program.
For over 40 years, students have been pursuing an MD through the school in partnership with UCLA, but in late 2022, the university received approval to start their own program.
The 60 students welcomed Monday, dubbed the inaugural cohort of medical students, are “almost entirely from local underserved and underrepresented communities in and around South Los Angeles,” according to CDU.
“Create physicians who know how to serve this community, who understand the social nature of health,” said Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Smith, the founder of the CDU’s MD program, as he discussed the upcoming impact of the class. “The things that affect health that many medical schools don’t teach. Here it’s embedded in the curriculum.”
The new program is equally meaningful to the incoming students, who see the opportunity as a real opportunity to impact the community that helped shape them.
“I would love to reside here,” says Sabrina Montgomery, one of the inaugural students who was inspired to become a doctor after watching her grandfather struggle with both kidney failure and a lack of medical care early in life. “I would love to stay here because this is the community that made me.”
“Sometimes you just feel like a number, and I said to myself, ‘I don’t want to do that,'” said Darrin Ward, another student who was also introduced to the medical field as a child after witnessing his mother in going into diabetic shock. “I want to do what I can to change my neighborhood for the better.”
CDU, located in South Los Angeles, is the nation’s only dual-designated historically black graduate institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School, according to their website.
They say that of the 60 students, three attended King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, which is adjacent to the CDU campus.
Also one of only four U.S. historically black medical colleges, CDU is a federally designated historically black graduate institution and the only historically black medical school west of the Mississippi.