Touro Alumni Launch Scholarship for Students
Spearheaded by Alumna Dr. Omobola Onikoyi, Recipient Will Receive Free Year of UWorld Medical Board Prep
A deserving student at TouroCOM Harlem will receive a free year of UWorld Medical Board Prep thanks to a generous scholarship fund launched by TouroCOM alumni.
“The recipient will be someone from an underrepresented community who is very passionate about medicine and giving back to underserved communities,” said TouroCOM alumna Dr. Onikoyi. “UWorld is one of the best, if not the best, board prep program. Your score on the boards determine what field you’re going into and being adequately prepared can make all the difference.”
Dr. Onikoyi said that she was motivated to launch the scholarship by her own background and experience as a medical student. “I was always interested in medicine,” recounted Dr. Onikoyi. “But I never met a physician who looked like me.”
Growing up in Rhode Island, Dr. Onikoyi said that her parents instilled in her the importance of an education and school quickly became an oasis for her from her turbulent neighborhood. “I can liken it to swimming against the currents,” Dr. Onikoyi explained. “It was a fight. My desire to improve my family’s situation and better myself motivated me to stay the course despite hardship.”
While a sophomore at the University of Rhode Island, she reached out to Dr. Philip Gruppuso at Brown University and asked to work in his lab.
“Dr. Gruppuso and his staff took me under their wings,” recalled Dr. Onikoyi. “They treated me like family. Before working in their lab, I didn’t know any doctors and the research team really opened doors for me.” With the lab’s encouragement she joined TouroCOM Harlem’s Master of Science Program in Interdisciplinary Biological and Physical Sciences. “It meant so much to me to have people rooting for me.” continued Dr. Onikoyi. “That made all the difference.”
Dr. Onikoyi was accepted into TouroCOM Middletown’s DO program the following year. She graduated in 2018. While Dr. Onikoyi originally planned to become an OBGYN, a family member’s diagnosis of skin cancer eventually made her consider dermatology.
“I was forced to learn more about dermatology,” Dr. Onikoyi said. “In a way dermatology found me.”
To help launch the scholarship, Dr. Onikoyi reached out to her fellow TouroCOM alumni. Participating TouroCOM alumni include Shannon Caesar-Peterson DO, MSc; Tashnia Tahsin DO; Hillary Ramroop DO, MSc; and Desiree Mayorga DO, MSc. The TouroCOM Alumni Steering Committee, comprising alumni leaders from all years, will review the scholarship applications and choose the recipient.
Dr. Onikoyi said that an added impetus for the scholarship were the recent Black Lives Matter protests.
“Racial barriers are being torn down and it made me realize that this was an opportunity to use my platform and voice to help someone,” concluded Dr. Onikoyi. “Being a member of a minority in higher education, I empathize with the struggles minority students face. I wanted to help someone else because I know what it feels like. It’s important for society to have physicians of all backgrounds and ethnicities.”