Knox alumna Mrinalini Chakraborty '12, national field coordinator for the Women’s March, was recently intervi...
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Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Major in Biochemistry, Minors in Psychology, Health Studies
What have you done as a Mellon Fellow?
I participated in a premedical enrichment program for underrepresented minorities in medicine and low-income students interested in the health professions. It's meant to expose us to various fields of medicine. and give us the tools to successfully transition to our intended professional school. The name of the program is called the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). I got to learn so much and make some fantastic connections with other students around the nation and with faculty at the medical school. I applied because it advances the academic competence and career development of students underrepresented in health professions, and it gives students the tools to successfully apply to a respected professional school. As a Hispanic student who's an underrepresented minority in healthcare coming from a low economic class, I felt this would be a perfect use of my summer since I was trying to solidify my desire to become a physician. This program would also provide me with connections and experiences that I wouldn't be able to make otherwise. It boosted my confidence in pursuing a career as a doctor and I'm so excited for what is ahead.
What did you do while you were there?
Throughout the six weeks we had several talks from speakers from various departments of the health professional schools at the University of Iowa who shared their current work or research. They also shared their journey to getting where they were today and how they pushed through adversity and struggle. Their stories resonated with me and truly showed me that no one's path in life comes without bumps along the road. We also had group workshops on interprofesional collaboration in healthcare, which followed along with an online course we took while there. We also had various talks from people on health disparities, financial literacy and planning, conflicts in healthcare for Native Americans, effective study skills, networking skills and more. As a part of the premed group, I had the privilege of visiting a cadaver lab and viewed the structures in person, which really brought together all of the information I had learned in class. We were also set up with shadowing at the university, and I was able to shadow a behavioral and developmental pediatrician, which was a lot of fun. I also volunteered and measured vital signs at the University of Iowa's mobile clinics, where free healthcare is offered to people who are uninsured or undocumented. Giving up time to provide people with free healthcare was a very gratifying feeling. We also participated in a suture clinic where we practiced stitching.
How has Knox influenced you to pursue this?
An important thing I learned at Knox was understanding the ideas and beliefs of people who come from so many different places. Going to a place as diverse as Knox, I think I've learned how to work outside of my comfort zone and how to adapt to new places and people. What surprised me was the support from the faculty and staff on campus. With small class sizes and being a small school, I get to engage with my professors and advisors often and I feel like they are always taking an interest in my goals and helping me achieve them. I never thought I'd have such a close relationship with my advisors and professors before I came to Knox.
Jonathan Damota '19 is on the men's basketball team, a member of the Best Buddies club on campus, and a brother of the Phi Gamma Delta chapter. He's also an organic chemistry TA and an athletic trainer beginning this fall. With the help of his Mellon Fellowship, Damota interned at the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP).
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