New grant-funded program will help build diversity in health and medical fields

October 20, 2017
Two businessmen sitting in front of monitor

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Biology Scholars Program (BSP) have been awarded a grant from the California Wellness Foundation to develop a Health Workforce Pipeline Project (HWPP). The goal of the project is to prepare underrepresented undergraduate students at UC Berkeley to make well-informed choices about health careers and become competitive candidates for graduate education in public health, primary care, and other medical careers.

“This is really an exciting opportunity for the School,” said Jeffrey Oxendine, co-faculty director of the undergraduate public health major. “It fits with our commitment to increase opportunities for students in our emerging majority communities to become the next generation of diverse public health leaders and professionals.”

There are many programs on the UC Berkeley campus that work in support of diversity and to support underrepresented minority (URM) students. In addition to the core partnership between the School and the BSP, the HWPP is designed to improve collaboration and communication between campus programs in order to build a sense of community, connection, and a support network for URM students. These programs include Cal NERDS, the Transfer Student Center, Stiles Hall, Pre-College TRiO Programs, Transfer Alliance Project, Center for Educational Partnerships, Black Students in Health, Chicanos in Health Education, and the Cal Undergraduate Public Health Coalition. They will also help identify potential students for the HWPP.

“We greatly appreciate the California Wellness Foundation to invest in this important project. A key part of the grant is the Biology Scholars Program,” Oxendine said. “The Biology Scholars Program has a long track record of supporting students to succeed academically and pursue health careers.”

The School of Public Health will provide a variety of resources for students, including workshops and individual counseling on health careers. Other resources that would be provided are: community/team-building activities, continued academic support, mentoring, paid summer internships, graduate admissions test preparation support, and career placement services. Students in the program will have mentorship and advising provided by graduate students and faculty from similar backgrounds in the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program.

Through this program, the School of Public Health expects to see a large increase in the amount of underrepresented minorities that will know about the public health major, public health, and medicine graduate school requirements and the different health careers. For the first year, at least 150 students will be in the program. The number is expected to grow to 250 students by year two.

“We’re also excited that it would include reaching out to students in community colleges,” said Oxendine. “We want to reach out to community college transfer students right when they get to Berkeley.”