Oakwood University is partnering with the University of Alabama, Birmingham (UAB) in a new Early Assurance Program (EAP), offering qualified Oakwood students early acceptance to the UAB School of Medicine, along with shadowing and research opportunities.
Oakwood is the first of the historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) in Alabama to partner in this way with UAB School of Medicine. “We felt partnering with Oakwood was a great fit because of the university’s mission, and with the School of Medicine’s presence in Huntsville,” Craig J. Hoesley, senior associate dean for medical education at UAB School of Medicine, said.
Robert A. L. Blake, assistant professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine’s Huntsville Regional Medical Campus and an Oakwood alumnus, approached Oakwood University vice-president Karen Benn Marshall about the program. Marshall is now the administrator for the Memo of Understanding with UAB. “The Early Assurance Program provides an excellent opportunity for the UAB School of Medicine to ensure a pipeline of high-caliber trainees and for Oakwood University students to solidify their academic futures,” Blake said.
According to the Association for American Medical Colleges, Oakwood University is the nation’s 11th-ranked producer of undergraduate Black applicants to medical schools and the only university or HBCU among the top 20 universities in Alabama. Oakwood’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) program has been ranked 4th of small HBCUs to graduate Black STEM students and has consistently ranked in the top 15 for matriculating Black students to medical school. The biology program also has a strong record of matriculating Black students to other professional and graduate programs.
The Early Assurance Program is open to current Oakwood students who have completed their sophomore year. Applicants must have a minimum 3.5 undergraduate grade point average and a minimum 3.5 grade point average in their science courses. Preference is given to Alabama residents. “Ideal qualifications for candidates include diverse experiences and perspectives, career potential for leadership, maturity, strong letters of support, and a passion for service,” Christina J. Grabowski, associate dean for admissions and enrollment management in the School of Medicine, said.
The first Oakwood students in the EAP began this fall and can enroll in the School of Medicine in the 2023-2024 academic year. After review, five students were chosen for the EAP: Christyn Byrd, Jayda Caldwell, Durell King, and Andisa Labossiere, all biology/pre-med; and David Reid, biochemistry.
“Four of the five students are graduates from Oakwood Adventist Academy and had participated in the dual enrollment program. I am so proud of them!” Elaine Vanterpool, Oakwood’s faculty EAP liaison and professor and chair of biological sciences, said.
Oakwood University president Leslie Pollard agreed. He said that the Early Assurance Program is a key partnership for Oakwood University and added, “The early reward for such remarkable work by our student-scholars is a gift to their parents, families, peers, and professors. Congratulations to Christyn, Jayda, Durell, Andisa, and David. You have made us proud!”