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Charles R. Drew University welcomes first class of students to medical program

Charles R. Drew University welcomes Inaugural Cohort of Medical Students
Charles R. Drew University welcomes Inaugural Cohort of Medical Students 02:28

The esteemed Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science welcomed it's very first class of students enrolled in the school's medical program on Monday. 

For more than 40 years, students have pursued an M.D. through the school in partnership with UCLA, but in late-2022 the university was approved to start their very own program. 

The 60 students welcomed on Monday, who have been dubbed the Inaugural Cohort of Medical Students, are "almost entirely from local underserved and underrepresented communities in and around South Los Angeles," according to CDU. 

"Create physicians who know how to serve this community, who understand the social determinacy of health," said Dr. Deborah Prothrow-Smith, the Founding Dean of CDU's M.D. Program while discussing the pending impact of the class. "The things that impact health that a lot of medical schools don't teach. Here, it's embedded into the curriculum."

Related: Historically Black graduate school in Willowbrook addresses the shortage of Black doctors

The new program is just as meaningful for the incoming students, who see the opportunity as a real chance to impact the community that helped mold them. 

"I would love to do residency here," said Sabrina Montgomery, one of the inaugural students who was inspired to become a doctor after watching her grandfather struggle with both kidney failure and a lack of medical care early in her life. "I would love to stay here, because this is the community that made me."

"Sometimes you feel like just a number, and I said to myself, 'I don't want to do that,'" said Darrin Ward, another of the students who was also introduced to the medical field as a child after witnessing his mother go into diabetic shock. "I want to do what I can to change my neighborhood for the better."

Located in South Los Angeles, CDU is the nation's only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School, according to their website. 

They say that of the 60 students, three attended the King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science, which lies adjacent to CDU's campus. 

CDU is also one of only four U.S. historically Black medical colleges and is a federally designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and the and only historically Black medical degree program west of the Mississippi.   

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