Chicago AHEC Announces New Cohort of Scholars - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Chicago AHEC Announces New Cohort of Scholars

August 4, 2022

The Chicago Area Health Education Center (AHEC) at Health & Medicine is delighted to announce our new cohort of AHEC Scholars! This year we welcome 12 scholars who are pursuing a wide range of health professions from educational institutions across Chicago. Our scholars will join us for 2 years to receive a mix of enhanced learning—both online and in-person—and hands-on activities, including opportunities to shadow working professionals and complete internships and practica. AHEC Scholars make meaningful connections that can lead to and strengthen future employment.

This year’s scholars are Nala Al Bouri, Brittney Alcantar, Dania Castro, Urvi Dubey, Nicole Franks, Jonatan Gomez, Marrissa Hempfer, Emaan Khan, Oriana Laurentin, Micai Merriweather, Meghana Mohan, and Rushabh (Rui) Shah.

While our scholars have varied experiences and inspirations, Marrissa Hempfer, a rising third-year at the University of Illinois Chicago, describes a common desire among the group: “Everyone deserves to be treated like a person,” she says. “My goal is to be able to help people—no matter the circumstances.”

Meghana Mohan, who hopes to enroll in medical school after she completes the program, shares a similar view. “As an aspiring pediatrician, I believe that physicians should advocate for their patients within and outside the clinic. To me, this means that physicians should be active participants in public health and hospital decisions, and I am confident that AHEC will provide me with the knowledge and starting steps to network and outreach within the sphere of public health, health policy, and health care advocacy.”

The scholars, including rising Loyola University junior Rui Shah, express a desire to address health care disparities and inequities.

“Health equity has become a bit of a buzzword over the past few years, but it is still sorely lacking in both rural and urban communities all over the United States,” Nicole Franks says. ” As the field of public health evolves, I’d like to see growth in access to health care and improvement of the quality of health care in these areas. My hope is that the AHEC program will serve to educate future health care professionals who are interested in changing the field.”

In each year of the AHEC Scholars program, they will complete 40 hours of community-based, experiential, or clinical training in an underserved area and 40 hours of education focused on interprofessional education, behavioral health integration, social determinants of health, cultural competency, practice transformation, and emerging issues important to the local area.

Jonatan Gomez looks forward to developing the skills necessary to thrive in different areas of the medical field. “Apart from the physical skills, it will also help shape my mentality as a professional,” he shares. “It will allow me to assess health problems not just from a medical aspect, but by examining different aspects of patients’ lives, including their mental health, their day to day life, and where they live.”

We are thrilled to welcome with this cohort and look forwarding to seeing what they accomplish over the next two years. Congratulations, Scholars!