50 Years of Excellence | Travelers Summer Research Fellowship | Weill Cornell Medicine

50 Years of Excellence | Travelers Summer Research Fellowship | Weill Cornell Medicine

This is the fiftieth anniversary of the Travelers
Summer Research Fellowship Program. It is a tremendous milestone. The mere fact that this program has influenced and impacted the lives of so many of us, many of us feel indebted to come back and to participate in the celebration. I wouldn’t be the physician I am today if
it wasn’t for the summer research program here at Weill Cornell. On the heels of the civil rights movement
there was momentum for change. Growing racial tensions reached a boiling
point across America and academic institutions were at the forefront. Groups of marginalized students wanted more inclusion, so they occupied administration buildings across the country including Willard Straight Hall at Cornell University. In 1969, the Travelers Program was started
at Weill Cornell Medicine as an effort to increase minority representation in medical schools and the physician workforce. We have students from all across the country,
uh they’re college students who are interested in medical school who are also not just interested in becoming a physician but also a researcher as well. Diversity programs provide an avenue and a
vehicle to introduce underrepresented minorities to the field of medicine, provide them with
mentorship and role models. I think that was one of the biggest aspects
of this program for me was meeting other physicians who looked like me, who were from my community,
who were doctors. A key element of how the program has helped
me in my own career is that built in the program is this sense of excellence and doing your
best and always trying to achieve to the highest that you can to help others. To this day that still is guiding me in my
career. Enrolling in the Travelers Program was a very
important step in my personal life. It was the first time I had been exposed to
a formal um medical program. The program further instilled in me uh the confidence to pursue my career goals. For me the Travelers Summer Research Fellowship
Program was um absolutely life-altering not just the friendships and the support systems
that I um was able to form while I was here but also being able to do research being able
to be published, before I even got into medical school was was tremendously helpful to me
in in my career and in being able to get ahead. It’s important to have programs like Travelers
because not everybody starts from the same place, and it helps ensure that they’re
exposed and have equal opportunity. The Travelers Research Program, it opens up
your eyes to a lot of different things. Diversity programs the ones where it helps
you to feel yes I can do this, and to actually see other people who have done it, which gives
you the impetus to say yes I can do this and then I’m also going to pull someone forward. So I believe this program is important, and
fifty years is a very poignant pause to take and reflect. Because in spite of fifty years of increasing
access to medical education for underrepresented minorities, we still have a shortage of physicians
of color that is not reflective of the population of this country. If you look at diversity within healthcare
right now you’ll see that it’s not where it should be and uh I think we have a real
great opportunity to change that and to move that needle. Diversity is excellence. I am very very proud and pleased that Weill
Cornell sees the importance of such a program. You went in, you did it you succeeded and
you pushed forward. Congratulations to all of you. Travelers has done a tremendous amount of
work over the past fifty years. But there is more work to do, there really
is and what Travelers has done is really to build a network of physicians who are colleagues
who are friends, who are mentors for each other so this program is definitely important
and I would love to see it continue for the next fifty years and beyond. (cheering)

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

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