Colors of Medicine

Colors of MedicineSupporting Underrepresented Minority Students in the Medical Field

on your Match, Colors of Medicine Class of 2022!


Wilma Afungo

Alberto Cantua

Nancy Doria

Erica Onwuegbuchu

Chioma Onyejiaka

Natalya Ramirez

Bianca Uzoma

2022 Grads

  • Wilma Afunugo

    Wilma Afunugo

    Why Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation?

    The driving force behind my career choice in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation was my experience during my season-ending knee injury while playing Division I Basketball at Seattle University. The pain I felt from my injury and being incapable of playing the game I loved was unimaginable. There were several days when I believed I would not return to the athlete that I once was. However, with help from my team doctor, physical therapist, coaches, and teammates, my body began to gain its strength back, and my mind was becoming more at peace with my reality. I was fortunate to have played my entire senior season without pain and my body being the strongest it had ever been. The lessons I learned throughout this experience steered me to help those in a similar situation. Throughout my preclinical years, I enjoyed learning about the neuromusculoskeletal system, functional disorders, and ways to manage and improve the quality of life of those with these ailments. In doing so, I realized I wanted to be a part of a specialty where these topics are emphasized. What appeals to me most about physiatry is the holistic approach to patient diagnosis, the goal of improvement of function and adaptation to disability rather than cure; the ability to help people across different age ranges and spectrums of disease and disability, and the emphasis on an interdisciplinary team approach. My experiences as a collegiate athlete guided me to help others who may be adapting to a new environment or a new body and pushed me to have a newfound respect for the human body and its capabilities. I am thrilled to be joining the field of Physiatry, and my goal is to increase representation in this amazing specialty, especially in under-served communities.

    Advice:

    1. Always be kind to those you meet. You never know what others may be going through, and first impressions make a huge difference.
    2. Find a mentor who is trustworthy and believes in you. However, always do what feels right and listen to your instincts.
    3. Do not let a misfortune ruminate. Remember: It’s a minor setback for a major comeback.
  • Alberto Cantúa

    Alberto Cantúa

    Specialty matched: Family Medicine
    Program matched: University of Texas Rio Grande Valley DHR

    Growing up in McAllen, Texas – a border town in the Rio Grande Valley – has fundamentally shaped my worldview. Hidalgo County has a population that is over ninety percent Hispanic and is also home to many superlatives no one wishes for: poorest, fattest, highest incidence of diabetes. Consequently, I have become passionate about preventative care and I view family medicine as the specialty focused on keeping people out of the hospital. As the old adage goes, "A pound of cure is worth an ounce of prevention".

    What I most enjoy about family medicine is the ability to get to know my patients as people and not only as diseases. I have always admired seeing family medicine doctors talk to their patients about each other’s lives for the first few minutes of the interview and I remember thinking to myself on multiple occasions throughout my training "That is what I would want for myself".

    Eventually, I hope to practice in the Rio Grande Valley and give back a community that has given so much to me.

  • Erica Onwuegbuchu

    Erica Onwuegbuchu

    Colors of Medicine
    Specialty:
    Internal Medicine-Pediatrics
    Program:
    Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania- Philadelphia, PA (UPENN-CHOP)

    Why Internal Medicine-Pediatrics (Med-Peds)?

    My passion for medicine stemmed from a desire to help people reach their maximum potential in health. In Med-Peds, I found a niche that focused primarily on transitions of care in populations affected with intellectual and developmental disabilities and complex care needs – both medically and socially. My introduction to this community as a behavioral technician before medical school only further strengthened my desires to commit to a career in Med-Peds by working to transform transitions of care from pediatric onset of chronic health diseases to adulthood in primarily underserved communities of color – both locally and globally. I am excited to join this growing network of physicians that focus on increasing equitable and sustainable tools for these populations that are often neglected. Med-Peds prepares me to be the best primary care provider for my patients – children, adults, and families.

    Advice: There are a few pieces of advice that have followed me from my post-undergraduate days until now. 1- Never limit yourself, no matter what. It is easy to let imposter syndrome creep in as you navigate this journey but do it with fear anyway. You will be surprised when you just choose to leap. 2- Find a mentor, more than one preferably. This is the single most important key for my journey of success to this point. As a first-generation college graduate, I am the first in my family to be a physician. This came with numerous obstacles and required me to reach out to numerous people in my career path to help navigate the way. Use your SNMA/LMSA network and put yourself out there. 3- Trust the process and remain humble. It won’t be easy, but I promise it is possible. You may encounter unexpected cracks along the journey, but keep your faith alive and trust the work that you put in. You will get there in the end!

    About Me

    I was born and raised in the heart of Dallas, TX by my Nigerian immigrant mother who was also a single parent. My parents' separation at the age of 4, greatly impacted the remainder of my childhood as I learned how to be a caretaker to my siblings in my role as the eldest child of 8. I juggled many hats – daughter, sister, pseudo-parent, financial breadwinner, and student in and outside of my home. As a first-generation college graduate, my journey into medicine was nontraditional as I struggled to navigate the nuances of this field on my own. Nonetheless, my 4 years of transition were a blessing as it was during this time that I discovered the beauty of Med-Peds and my passion for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.



  • Chioma Onyejiaka

    Chioma Onyejiaka

    I started medical school with the thought of being a psychiatrist. However, I maintained some objectivity throughout my clerkship rotations because I wanted to commit to an area of medicine that I was passionate about and in which I could make the most impact. With each rotation, I became more convinced of my passion for psychiatry. A particularly enlightening moment was during my away rotation when I had the opportunity to work on a neurodevelopmental unit on an away rotation.

    My exposure to this unique population gave me a glimpse into the complexities of formulating a cohesive and effective treatment plan in collaboration with the interdisciplinary team (IDT).  The IDT, including the family, had to create a strategy to provide the necessary therapies and education to facilitate a safe transition home and long-term success following discharge. I saw a similar model applied for adolescents in the partial hospitalization program. Seeing how the synergy between the treatment team, the family, available facility resources, and state support for mental health care allowed for wholistic patient-centered treatment only solidified my desire to practice psychiatry and to train specifically in child and adolescent psychiatry.

     
  • Natalya Ramirez

    Natalya Ramirez

    Colors of Medicine
    Specialty: Forensic Pathology
    Program: Pathology Duke University

    I've known since I was maybe in middle or high school that I wanted to go into forensic pathology, initially due to all of the procedural shows I watched and all of the books about mysteries I read growing up. Coming to UTMB for medical school, I have acquired a love for pathology beyond the scope of forensics and have fallen in love with its puzzle solving contribution to medicine. Being able to help tailor a patient's treatment plan based off of the markers we identify and correlating what I find under a microscope to the patient's clinical picture is always exciting.

    UTMB has offered me so many opportunities from volunteering to shadowing to cultivating my leadership and professional skills. The community here is so welcoming and supportive from the top down, and the pathology department especially has been such a big help in encouraging my interests over the years.

    For any future students, my advice would be to take advantage of the opportunities available to you through UTMB, but to still give yourself time to cultivate your interests outside of medicine and relax! Time management is a very helpful skill once you've mastered it.

What We DoIncreasing Minority Students in Medical School


Colors of Medicine is an organization started up at the University of Texas Medical Branch with the support of a Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board grant. The Colors of Medicine mission is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students matriculating into medical school. Studies have shown that physicians of color are better equipped to treat patients of color. We hope that by supporting underrepresented minority students in their medical school endeavers we can increase the amount of minority doctors in the workforce and improve health care for all patients.

AnnouncementsMedical Student Preston Igwe appointed to SNMA Board of Directors


Colors of Medicine's own, Preston Igwe, was appointed to the position of National Academic Affairs Committee Co-Chairperson at the 2020 Virtual SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC). This is an incredible accomplishment and we are all very proud of him.
Congratulations Preston!


PreMed Mentoring Program

We have medical students trained to mentor premed students through the vigorous medical school application cycle. They assist students in building MCAT study plans, strengthening resumes and applications, proofreading personal statments and preparing for medical school interviews.


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Contact Info

  Address: 301 University Blvd., Galveston, Texas 77550

  Telephone: (409) 772 - 2780

  Email: bcnavarr@utmb.edu

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