“A lot of who I am is a result of educational opportunities and enrichment programs similar to the one I have the privilege of helping to create and sustain at the Warren Alpert Medical School,” begins Luckson Omoaregba, director of the recently created pathways program at Brown University connecting students early with the resources to pursue medical school.
A Nigerian immigrant who arrived with his family in Rhode Island at a young age, Omoaregba went to middle and high school in Pawtucket, then earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from URI. Now, Omoaregba’s work not only stirs early career passions in medicine and healthcare for marginalized students but also charts a clearer trajectory for them to accomplish their goals.
“What work can we do in diversifying the field of healthcare medicine?” is the question at the core of the new pipeline program. “We’re focusing on developing a pathway for young people to have educational opportunities from when they’re in middle school all the way to undergrad,” says Omoaregba, “to have multiple touch points to be able to see themselves in a career in healthcare medicine.”
Omoaregba and his team have already launched a program at Central Falls High School called MEETS (Mentorship, Early Exposure, and Training in Surgery) bringing lessons and hands-on workshops to the classroom, and shining light on a field of medicine historically lacking doctors of color. Partnering with URI’s neuroscience program, Omoaregba also looks forward to starting up a new neurology pathway this year.
The idea of scaling their existing programs (and creating pathways models for other industries) is certainly on the top of his mind going into 2023, but Omoaregba’s focus is always on quality, first ensuring their Providence, Pawtucket, and Central Falls students are benefiting from their work – especially during these uncertain times for the Providence Public School District.
“We don’t expect everyone to become doctors or nurses,” says Omoaregba, “but we do want them to have the information on how to do it. If you know the ‘how’ of it and figure out it’s not for you, you’re better off because you had a choice.”
Reason for Optimism: “Our dream is to have these students go on and complete their educational journey and come back to the state of Rhode Island and serve as faculty members of the medical school, as resident directors, and leading entire hospital wings. Those are the things to be optimistic about.”
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