Jemima Akinsanya, DO, Receives First-Ever TouroCOM Alumni Service Award
Neurologist, Founder of TouroCOM’s COMPASS Program, Receives Award at Alumni Event
Jemima “Mima” Akinsanya, DO, (TouroCOM Harlem, ’16) is the recipient of the inaugural TouroCOM Alumni Service Award.
The award recognizes and honors TouroCOM alumni who have made outstanding contributions to the institution. The award was presented to Akinsanya by TouroCOM’s Dean of Student Affairs, Dr. Nadege Dady, during the school’s annual alumni event held at Abigail’s on Feb. 8. More than 70 of Akinsanya’s fellow alumni celebrated with her.
Akinsanya was honored for her legacy of service to the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM), most notably through her founding of COMPASS (Creating Osteopathic Minority Physicians Achieving Scholastic Success). The organization recruits and supports underrepresented minority applicants to TouroCOM, mirroring a core value of the school. Akinsanya founded COMPASS during her second year in TouroCOM Harlem.
“I wanted there to be a membership and support pathway for minority students,” recalled Akinsanya, who is finishing her last year as chief neurology resident at Emory University. “I was drawn to TouroCOM because of our mission statement of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in the medical field. I wanted to build an infrastructure for the mission statement. At COMPASS our goal was to ensure that when an underrepresented minority student considers applying to TouroCOM, they can speak to students from similar backgrounds who are already at Touro. We wanted these applicants to know that there is a support system in place for them and they are welcome in our school.”
Together with several of her fellow students, Akinsanya launched the organization in 2014. Members of the group delivered talks at local middle and high schools about being a doctor and developed programs with students to encourage their interest in medicine. The organization also hosted mixers for college students who identified themselves as underrepresented minorities and paired applicants with current TouroCOM students.
In addition to its work with future students, COMPASS also worked to ensure that minority students at TouroCOM felt supported. “We created peer-to-peer mentorship roles among minority students at TouroCOM,” said Akinsanya. Mentors spoke with students about succeeding academically, being competitive for residency, and staying emotionally healthy during medical school. The organization is still active.
After she concludes her residency this year, Akinsanya will begin a fellowship in neuroimmunology/neuroinfectious disease at the National Institute for Health in Bethesda, MD. She plans to research disease differences in African Americans.
While the award presentation was the highlight of the evening, alumni also heard from TouroCOM Harlem Dean Dr. David Forstein about the school’s progress and what kind of alumni programming and engagement they can expect. The was lots of catching up and networking among the alumni – no one wanted to leave at the end of the evening!