Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine welcomed their Class of 2018 earlier this month – 160 new students who will spend the next four years working to achieve their dream of becoming physicians. Adding to this historic day was the presence of seven “DREAMers” in the class. This milestone came nearly two years after Loyola Stritch became the first medical school to amend its admissions policies to include qualified students who have received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and are legally recognized U.S. residents.
“Our social justice tradition called us to take a leadership role in offering educational opportunities to underserved groups, including qualified applicants with DACA status. We also believe that the mission to train a talented and diverse physician workforce should motivate other medical schools to do the same. The opportunities are now much greater than the barriers,” said Linda Brubaker, MD, MS, dean and chief diversity officer.
Loyola University Press Conference Recognizing “DREAMer” Students:
For Johana Mejias and six of her classmates, a once-locked door that stood between them and their dream of serving others as a physician has been opened. “Today, what was once just a dream starts to become a reality. I find myself as part of Loyola Stritch, a loving, professional and courageous institution that believed in my ability to one day become a successful practicing physician,” said Mejias. The State of Illinois is facing a physician shortage in many communities. To help address this issue the Illinois Finance Authority created a DACA loan program modeled after public health service loans. This is available to the state’s seven medical and three dental schools and requires students who access the program to provide a year of service in a designated underserved area of Illinois for each year of the loan. “It’s important to note that these are dedicated, highly qualified students who competed on a level playing field throughout the admissions process,” said Dr. Brubaker.
Brubaker personally thanked Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and William Brandt, Jr., chair of the Illinois Finance Authority, who also were on hand today, for their support. Stritch faculty joined other Stritch students in the first-day celebratory event with the DACA students on the Health Sciences Campus. For more on the Stritch School of Medicine’s commitment to “DREAMers” and DACA status, visit stritch.LUC.edu/DACA.