August 5, 2013
By Emily McKellar, MSJC student and Public Information & Marketing intern
Twin sisters from Mt. San Jacinto College completed an intense 6-week medical program on Aug. 3 at the University of Los Angeles, California.
Moreno Valley residents Melissa and Amanda Gonzalez, 20, were accepted into the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the UCLA School of Dentistry.
The program teaches students about health disparities in underserved communities, where proper medical attention is harder to come by. The program focuses on the differences between groups of people and their access to healthcare in hopes that students will return to heal their own hometowns.
“They are pushing us to go back to our own communities after medical school and serve there because we all come from underserved backgrounds,” said Melissa, who wants to become a physician in emergency medicine. Her twin Amanda would like to become a family doctor.
In class students learn how to make a diagnosis in case studies, hear about the medical field from guest speakers, pick up new study skills that will aid them in the future, and more. For their final project, students must select an underserved community and design a possible program, such as a health fair, that will educate the population about the health disparities affecting them.
“I’m sure I speak for both of us when I say that we have learned so much more than we expected,” said Melissa. “We are leaving this program with many mentors and advisors that want us to succeed and want us to pursue our dreams.”
The twins, who are both Supplemental Instruction leaders and tutors in the Learning Resource Center, found out about the program after researching summer internships at MSJC. Once they return for the fall semester they plan on informing their peers about SMDEP in order to get more students to attend next summer.
“This program has been an amazing experience for us,” said Melissa. “[My sister and I] are completely confident becoming future physicians and know that this is what we want to do with our future.”
Both Melissa and Amanda are biology majors. They plan on transferring in the fall of 2015 and will apply to UCLA, UC Berkeley, USC, and UCR.
SMDEP is a free program that targets financially disadvantaged college freshman and sophomores who plan on pursuing medical careers. Students are especially considered if they are a part of an underrepresented group in medicine or dentistry. Online applications will be available Nov. 1 at www.smdep.org
“One main thing we are both leaving this program with is that just because we come from an unprivileged background doesn’t mean we can’t make it,” said Melissa. “We are confident and ready to make a difference in our community.”
From left to right - Melissa and Amanda Gonzalez