On February 24th, the Birmingham chapter of SNMA hosted its largest healthcare summit since its inception 14 years ago. Approximately 200 high school and college students and their families attend #IHS2018. Vendors from more than a dozen undergraduate and graduate programs from across the Southeast attended the recruitment fair. Graduate students from across the UAB campus and the state of Alabama volunteered throughout the day. Motivational speaker and local celebrity Timothy Alexander prompted the students to seize the opportunities of the day. The workshops provided resources for students interested in careers in health professions, as well as basic information on applying to college and financial aid. Ms. Alexandria Croom's session for high schoolers, "Choosing the School That's Right For You," was a smashing success according to feedback from both students and parents. The MCAT Smackdown hosted by a representative from Kaplan Test Prep was also quite popular. Nearly every student participated interactive workshops for suturing, x-ray, and physical exam skills. Most took professional headshots in white coats embroidered "Future Health Professional."
While all of these moments are worth recognition, the highlight of the day was the keynote luncheon featuring Dr. Erica Stringer-Reasor, board-certified physician in hematology and oncology (Hem/Onc) and recent winner of a research grant from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for $450,000. She encouraged the students to be persistent, establish mentors, and remain open to new experiences. After Dr. Stringer-Reasor's dynamic lecture, the Healthcare Summit Committee awarded a Kaplan test prep course to Nadia Hollings, a pre-medical college student. Kaplan MCAT courses start at $2000, and many underserved students are unable to access a resource used by many of their fellow medical school applicants. So we were elated that our fundraising efforts allowed at least one person to benefit in a significant way.
Overall, the 4th Annual Integrative Healthcare Summit was the best one yet. There was a record number of attendees, vendors, and volunteers, but most of all, the students were impacted. From one attendee:
"...just seeing so many intelligent African Americans at one event was so inspiring. Everyone was so helpful and gave great advice! I received more inspiration and advice than I was expecting."