NUTLEY, NJ – Teju Keshiro from Union High School was among the 14 New Jersey high school students who graduated from the Medical Internship Navigating Diversity & Science (MINDS) Program at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University on Thursday Aug. 22. The 14 students were chosen from a pool of almost 300 applicants to the internship program, now in its second year.

The students’ research projects focused on important community issues which they ultimately presented to a three-judge panel. They addressed: noise pollution, water pollution, mortality rates in pregnant women, drug abuse, mental health in adolescence, and disparities impacting people with cancer.

This community-based pipeline program aligns with the School of Medicine mission to strengthen community, promote diversity, and increase the number of underrepresented students in medicine.

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The Thursday evening graduation program also included a presentation by Jordan Thibault entitled "African Americans and Alcohol Treatment”. Thibault attends Newark Tech.

Bonita Stanton, M.D., founding dean of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, said, “our mission is to create a physician workforce that is capable of delivering excellent clinical care and optimal health to all individuals – irrespective of their socioeconomic status - and one that reflects the communities we are so privileged to serve.’’

“This internship provides gifted students with an opportunity to experience hands-on learning from dedicated physicians and allied health professionals from underrepresented communities and helps us achieve a goal of working to ensure future physicians mirror the communities where they practice,’’ said David S. Kountz, M.D., MBA, FACP, Associate Dean of Diversity and Equity at Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University.

The MINDS program, which places strong emphasis on the social determinants of health, includes physician-led workshops, hands-on skills labs, field trips, public speaking instruction, a pre-test and post-test to gauge progress, SAT preparation, and a capstone research project. When discussng the program, Tenezaca spoke about the public speaking component in the same sentences as patient skills.

During the program, they experienced hands-on learning that included how to suture with surgeons and motivational interviewing with clinical psychologists. They also worked in the Emergency Room at Hackensack University Medical Center to interview patients affected by homelessness, domestic violence and substance abuse.

The following other students from New Jersey high schools also participated:

Kwamivi Amedeya                                   East Orange STEM Academy

Elijah Austin                                              St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Edison

Anahi Flores                                              Hackensack High School

Ashley Hyppolite                                      Benedictine Academy, Elizabeth

Ines Kenfack Donfack                              Newark Tech High School

Mikayla Montano                                     Columbia High School, Maplewood

Victoria Morgan                                       Union County Academy for Allied Health Sciences

Chukwudumebi Nwankwo                      Old Bridge High School

Luciana Salomone                                    Belleville High School

Izabre Springer                                         People’s Preparatory Charter School in Newark

Paola Tenezaca                                        Hackensack High School

Jordan Thibault                                         Newark Tech High School

Aaron Wenger                                           West Orange High School