Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine “Graduates” Local Med-Achieve Scholars

High School Students in Rigorous After School Program Learn Science, Medicine at Harlem Medical School

March 18, 2019
Med-Achieve scholars at graduation ceremony with mentors.
Med-Achieve scholars at graduation ceremony with mentors.

New York, N.Y. – Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine  (TouroCOM) graduated 71 high school students and TouroCOM Middletown graduated 80 high school students from their unique two-year after school program, "MedAchieve". The students received accolades and certificates from TouroCOM and their DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) mentors, along with stethoscopes and lab coats.

Both graduation ceremonies, in TouroCOM Harlem and TouroCOM Middletown, took place on March 7. Afterwards graduates retired to a “specialties fair” in the cafeteria where they mingled with school officials and their classmates and mentors, while learning about medical specialties from TouroCOM’s student clubs. The high school students are mostly underrepresented minorities interested in careers in science and medicine. TouroCOM Harlem Med-Achieve scholars attend a variety of schools in New York City – mainly in Harlem but a few in other boroughs. TouroCOM Middletown Med-Achieve scholars come to the program from several schools around the Middletown area.

“I came to Med-Achieve because I wanted to get a glimpse of what medical school would be like and test the waters a little bit,” said Kayla Simpson, who attends University Heights High School in the South Bronx and is headed to Howard University in the fall. Simpson said she hopes to become a cardiac surgeon. “I love Med-Achieve and I feel that high school students should definitely try to do it.”

About half of the Med-Achieve Harlem graduates attend Harlem’s Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics and A. Philip Randolph High School. Other Harlem high schools represented include the Frederick Douglass Academy High School, Harlem Renaissance High School, Harlem Village Academy High School, the Young Women’s Leadership School of East Harlem, and Cristo Rey New York High School. TouroCOM Middletown Med-Achieve scholars attend Middletown High School, Goshen High School, Warwick Valley High School and Pine Bush High School along with other schools in the area.

At their after school sessions, each student is paired with a DO student mentor who works alongside them as they learn through lectures and labs the foundations of medicine and how the body responds to stress, injury and disease. If the students meet certain criteria after college graduation, they are guaranteed a medical school interview at TouroCOM.

Shaila Cuellar, a junior at Saint Jean Baptiste High School, said she attended Med-Achieve to gain insight into the medical field and that the program was “an amazing experience because I was able to work with a mentor who was on the medical track. Because of her I feel like I want to pursue a medical career and in the future I would like to be a biomedical engineer.”

Having a mentor to work with is a key benefit of the program. “When I learned it was a one-on-one mentorship kind of program I decided it would be a great opportunity to talk to somebody about my interests,” said Kontessa Camacho, a student at Bard High School Early College, who plans to become a forensic pathologist. “I’ve had a great experience. I’ve learned a copious amount of information…a lot about CPR and different types of medical treatments and types of diseases and how they spread.”

The program benefits the DO student mentors, as well as their mentees, as OMS II Taylor Isenberg, co-coordinator for the TouroCOM Middletown Med-Achieve program, said, “Medical school is difficult and you occasionally lose sight of why you’re becoming a doctor,” said Isenberg. “But being able to help these high school students really brings back why you’re here. Not only did I develop a good relationship with my mentee, but the program re-ignited my fire for entering the medical profession. Med-Achieve is both impactful for the high school students and for us.”

The Touro College and University System

Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 19,200 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro College has 30 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and Touro University Nevada; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: