AUGUSTA (WFXG) - The 8th Annual Igniting the Dream of Medicine brought hundreds of high school and college students to the Medical College of Georgia Saturday. It’s a program hosted by the Office of Student and Multicultural Affairs and the Student National Medical Association (SNMA).
The goal is to bring more diversity to the medical field and under-served communities. The Medical College of Georgia opened it’s doors to hundreds of students hoping to spark interest in careers in medicine. JaBreia James, the President, SNMA, says this program gave her motivation.
“It made it an option for me. Before, I didn’t even fathom that it was something I could do so it’s great to see it come full circle,” James said.
Future Doctor JaBreia James participated in Ignite the Dream in 2014, now she’s helping plan it. “I know, for me when I came here, I didn’t even know the dream was possible, so for me, it started and sparked the dream,” James said.
James said the hands-on approach is just one of the things about this program that lead to interest in the medical field. “One thing I liked most about this conference was I saw Doctors and medical students who looked like me. They were females. They were people of minorities, and it gave me the courage that I could go to medical school too,” James explained.
Bria Carrithers, a medical student, believes this program is very helpful for the community. “I think it’s very vital to the communities who are under-served to see what it’s like to be a minority in medical school as well as any allied health profession,” Carrithers said.
Diversity is achieved through this conference, giving people from under-served communities the chance to not only spark a dream but learn the steps to getting there.
Dr. LaShon Sturgis, the founder of Igniting the Dream of Medicine, says it was imperative for her to educate students on the medical field. “It was important to me to lay the groundwork for as many students as we could to tell them exactly what they needed to do to get into medicine,” Dr. Sturgis said.
Dr. Sturgis started the program when she was a student in medical school. In the years since she says Linda James has added to the conference making it bigger and better every year.
“There’s really four tracks that go on during the conference. One for advisers, one for parents, one for high school students and one for college students. Ms. James has added the parent and adviser tracks, we didn’t have that when the conference started. There was just the high school and the college track.”
For student leaders, putting the program together is a responsibility. “I believe in the pillar of lifting as I climb, so for those that I am able to bring with me, I want them to go farther than I go," Carrithers said.