College of Medicine earns award for diversity


Insight into Diversity, the oldest and largest diversity publication in higher education, has selected the Florida Science Training and Research Fellowship (FSTAR) program at Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine as one of its 2018 Inspiring Programs in STEM.

The award recognizes “colleges, universities and organizations for programs that are improving access to STEM fields for students from underrepresented groups,” editors write in the August issue. “This award is being presented to institutions whose programs inspire a new generation of young people to consider STEM careers as well as support working professionals in these fields.”

2018 FSTAR fellows study human organs in the HWCOM anatomy lab.

2018 FSTAR fellows study human organs in the HWCOM anatomy lab.

“We launched the FSTAR program in 2011 to offer guidance, encouragement and support to students considered underrepresented in medicine who aspire to a career in health care,” says Cheryl Brewster, associate dean of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Twenty college sophomores, from underrepresented minorities (i.e., first generation, Black/African American, Hispanic, Native American) are selected each year. The program includes an eight-week summer experience at HWCOM’s campus in which they participate in webinars and workshops that range from financial aid to test-taking and culminates in a research project in basic science bench research or public health/social determinants of health research. Staff engage fellows on a bi-weekly basis offering continuous academic enrichment, advising and mentoring services through their first year of medical or graduate school.

FSTAR fellows are selected from FIU, and three historically black colleges —Florida Memorial University in Miami, Bethune Cookman College in Daytona Beach and Xavier University in Louisiana.

Dr. Schuyler Williams participated in FSTAR in 2012 while attending Xavier University and applying to medical school, inspired by her father who is a physician.

“The FSTAR program and, in particular, Dr. Cheryl Brewster really helped to set me up for success at that time,” says Williams. “She served as my mentor throughout the entire medical school application and interview process. I cannot thank her enough for her guidance.” Williams graduated from medical school in 2017 and is currently a 2nd year resident in internal medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Other FSTAR alumni who have chosen careers in medicine and STEM include an MD/MPH candidate scheduled to graduate in 2019; an alumni working on his master’s in biomedical science; and nine alumni who are entering the 2018-19 admissions cycle including two who have been accepted to HWCOM through the early assurance program.