Medical Student Wins United Health Foundation Diversity Scholarship

First-year University of Miami medical student Sandy Jiang recently was awarded a 2015 United Health Foundation diversity scholarship as part of the National Medical Fellowships Diverse Medical Scholars Program.

The $7,000 award is given to distinguished and diverse medical students from around the country and helps fund the students’ independent community health projects in underserved communities.

“I was very surprised upon learning that I was selected for the award,” said Jiang, who is also pursuing her master’s degree in public health sciences and plans to use a portion of the scholarship toward her tuition.

Jiang’s community project, which is also her fieldwork or capstone, helps local Hispanic parents and their teenage children build better relationships and mutual understanding. The children — eighth-graders at schools throughout Miami-Dade County — are largely second-generation immigrants and often struggle with conflicting cultural issues, said Jiang. The families meet weekly for five months at a local park and engage in exercise and other physical activities. Parents attend a separate session where they discuss nutrition, behavior, social issues, drug use and other issues.

“It’s a very powerful thing to work with teenagers and empower parents,” said Jiang, who plans to pursue adolescent medicine. “The way adolescents problem solve as adolescents will determine the way they problem solve in the future.”

Jiang’s faculty advisor, Sarah E. Messiah, Ph.D., M.P.H., research associate professor of pediatrics and public health sciences, described her as highly motivated, informed and compassionate.

“I am very proud of Sandy for receiving this award from the National Medical Fellowships Scholarship Program,” said Messiah. “Her passion for acquiring cultural competency skills to provide the best medical care possible for underserved patients, families and populations is admirable. I am looking forward to watching her professional development as she engages in her scholarship activities over the next year.”

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