White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Students into Scientific Community

From the time of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, Rochester has long been known as a community that encourages diversity and promotes the success of all members of society regardless of skin color, ethnicity or religion. Now, two of Rochester’s higher education institutions are working together to extend this legacy.

Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology are collaborating on the Rochester Biomedical Experience, an innovative new program that seeks to increase minority participation in biomedical-related fields. Funded by a $624,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health as part of the “Bridges to the Baccalaureate” program, participants enter MCC, complete a two-year degree program and then transfer to RIT to receive their bachelor’s degrees in a biomedical field.

The program’s first class of students received their white lab coats, emblazoned with their names, in a ceremony today attended by dignitaries from both colleges, the City of Rochester and Monroe County.

“Students entering the Rochester Biomedical Experience today will be given considerable opportunities to become leaders in biomedicine,” notes R. Thomas Flynn, president, Monroe Community College. “Faculty members and administrators at both institutions have invested significant time and energy to make the transition to college and advanced degrees an easy one for these promising students.”

“I would like to congratulate our first group of biomedical scholars as they begin their academic journey and welcome them into the scientific community,” says Stanley McKenzie, RIT provost and chief academic officer. “They are serving as a model both for future students and for the larger community. We look forward to partnering with MCC as well as with the graduate and medical schools that these students will want to attend in future years."

"The field of biomedicine is one of the emerging industries that is driving economic growth in our community," notes Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. "I applaud MCC and RIT for advancing educational and career opportunities for young people through the Rochester Biomedical Experience. Monroe County is proud to support this effort. I congratulate the students on their participation in the program and wish them great success."

“I sincerely hope the students entering the Rochester Biomedical Experience are the first in a long line of future scientists dedicated to extending the knowledge base of biomedical science and eradicating the under representation of minorities in this career field,” adds Mayor William Johnson.

The Rochester Biomedical Experience will serve as a pipeline for talented students who may otherwise not have the opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree. RIT and MCC will work together to recruit qualified high school seniors for the program. They will then co-host a five-week summer program, Summer Exploration in Biomedical Sciences, for incoming biomedical scholars using the facilities of both campuses. The summer course will include classroom training, lab work and hands-on interaction with students and faculty. Today’s white coat ceremony is the official start of the summer program.

Throughout their tenure at MCC, biomedical scholars will receive guidance and instruction from RIT faculty and advisors and will participate in joint summer research projects with faculty from both campuses following their first and second years at MCC. Students will also receive a stipend through the program to help cover expenses.

Minority groups remain disproportionately underrepresented within the ranks of healthcare professionals. Studies strongly suggest an increase in diversity among health professionals will lead to improved access to health care for minorities, greater patient choice and more focus on diseases that predominantly affect minorities.

“It is imperative that the next generation of medical professionals more adequately represent our community,” notes Douglas Merrill, associate dean of the College of Science at RIT. “It is my hope that the Rochester Biomedical Experience will act as a conduit for talented students, who may not otherwise have the opportunity to enter the medical field.”


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