Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship Program
Jefferson offers full scholarships to a number of students who qualify as underrepresented in the field of medicine or are disadvantaged per federal guidelines. Scholarships are based on merit and/or financial need and are renewed for a maximum of four years contingent upon the awardee success-fully progressing to the next academic level. This program is supported by college operational funds and SKMC endowments.
The faculty and alumni listed below have been named as honorees for each of these scholarships. This is in recognition of their notable contributions to medicine and society.
Dr. Marc Altshuler, a 2001 Jefferson graduate, is a Professor of Family and Community Medicine and Residency Program Director. In 2007, he launched and is now Director of the Jefferson Center for Refugee Health. As the largest medical provider of refugee health care in Philadelphia, the Center has cared for more than 2,500 newly arrived refugees from 30+ countries.
Dr. Altshuler was recently appointed clinical leader of the Hansjörg Wyss Wellness Center, a community health center in South Philadelphia set to serve the area’s immigrant and refugee population starting in 2020. The Center will expand Jefferson’s clinical and educational outreach offering medical care and social services regardless of health insurance or citizenship. It will also serve as a training site for SKMC students.
While in medical school, Dr. Altshuler was involved in JeffHOPE, a student-run group that helps provide services to the homeless at free clinics. He credits that experience as igniting his passion for aiding medically underserved and vulnerable populations.
In 1971, Dr. Cora Le Ethel Christian was the first African-American female to graduate from Jefferson, and the first native female from the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) to become a physician. Dr. Christian’s commitment to inclusion was present from her first day at Jefferson. She noted she was the only African American student in the entire four years when she matriculated to Jefferson after receiving her undergraduate education from Marquette University at the age of nineteen years old. Immediately, she started her activism by founding the Don’s Program, a program to recruit and enroll AA students. By her senior year, there were twelve AA students in the freshman class. She completed her residency in family medicine at Howard University Medical Center and received a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins intentionally in preparation for her return home to serve a medically depressed area.
Dr. Christian retired from the Virgin Islands Medical Institute, the QIO of the USVI, which she founded in 1977 serving as CEO and Medical Director to address the healthcare needs of the USVI residents after 38 years of successful improvements in all areas in the health care delivery system. Simultaneously, she led many health initiatives in preventative medicine, public health and family and community medicine program during her tenure as the assistant commissioner of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Health for four administrations inclusive of founding the Frederiksted Health Center, a federally qualified health center that still continues to serve the underserved population. Part of her healthcare mission has been to provide advocacy and technical assistance to elderly Medicare patients, ensuring that they receive quality care. For twenty-one years, she worked at one of the largest oil refineries in the Western Hemisphere as its medical director.
Dr. Christian has long been involved in the political landscape of her home. Besides running for Governor, she chaired the health care transition team for three different governors while at the same time having a very vibrant private practice. She was a member of the national AARP Board of Directors, the largest volunteer organization in the USA, an officer of the American Health Quality Association and president of the AAFP Virgin Islands chapter. Dr. Christian credits Jefferson with giving her the education she needed to achieve in all aspects of the health delivery system.
Dr. Nathaniel Evans is an Associate Professor and Director of the Minimally Invasive Thoracic Surgery Program at Jefferson. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and attended medical school at Stanford University. Dr. Evans completed his surgery residency and fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The majority of Dr. Evans’ practice is surgery for lung cancer and esophageal cancer, and he is leading the development of a comprehensive Lung Cancer Program across Jefferson Health. He specializes in treating lung cancer patients with a procedure known as video-assisted thoracic surgery, a minimally invasive technique to remove tumors from the lung.
Some of Dr. Evans’ research has explored racial disparity in death among patients who have undergone a particular lung cancer surgery, as well as age deviations for lung cancer diagnosis between current and former smokers.
Dr. Evans’ father is a physician, so the decision to enter medicine had always been a consideration for him growing up, but he acknowledges that there is a dearth of Black men in the field. To that end, Dr. Evans encourages any young black male who is interested in a medical career to explore their options.
In a recent profile, he stated, “There are many, many different career paths in medicine. All of them are lacking in minority representation. Find someone near you and ask about their path and their experiences. Some of the most rewarding, and yet disheartening, things about my job are the heartfelt looks of relief from black patients that seem to say ‘finally, someone who will understand and look out for me’. They are often accompanied by the statement ‘you know, you’re the first black doctor/surgeon I’ve ever seen.’ …I am saddened that these types of interactions happen so frequently.”
Dr. Fernandez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at SKMC. He obtained his medical degree in 2004 from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana School of Medicine in Bogota, Colombia. He conducted his Internal Medicine Internship and Neurology Residency at the University of Miami School of Medicine, followed by fellowships at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons and Yale University/Yale-New Haven Hospital. He subsequently completed a Masters in Medical Education at the University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. Fernandez has been involved in multiple educational roles at SKMC, including serving as facilitator for Case-Based Learning, as Associate Director of the Scholarly Inquiry Medical Education Track, and as Director of the Neurology Clerkship. He is part of SKMC’s Admissions Committee and works closely with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, including serving as Faculty Advisor for the Latino Medical Student Association and Faculty Liaison for the SKMC-CES University exchange program in Colombia.
His research involvement has included work on critical care electroencephalography, electroencephalography education, in addition to his participation in diversity and inclusion research through a study of ethnic disparities in end-of-life care after subarachnoid hemorrhage.
Dr. Karen Glaser was a Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at Jefferson and held dual appointments as Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior and Family and Community Medicine. She graduated from Cornell University and earned a master's degree in education from the University of Pennsylvania in 1971. She completed a doctoral degree in educational psychology at Penn.
Her research involved studying how doctors behaved toward their patients and whether patient perception of doctors' empathy influences clinical outcomes. She coauthored and published several papers on this topic.
Dr. Glaser was known for her passionate commitment to equity and concern for the well-being of the community. She was a trusted advisor and a compassionate listener to students in need. Dr. Glaser developed the behavioral curriculum for family medicine's residency and clerkships and served as the university's affirmative action officer from 1994 until 2013.
Dr. Algernon B. Jackson was the first African American student admitted to Jefferson, earning his medical degree in 1901. Dr. Jackson attended Indiana University for his undergraduate education and completed post-graduate work at Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.
After graduating from medical school, Dr. Jackson became the first African-American assistant surgeon at the Philadelphia Polyclinic Hospital. In 1907, he cofounded the Mercy Hospital School for Nurses and became the Surgeon-in-Chief and then the hospital’s Superintendent. He was the first African-American Fellow of the American College of Physicians. In 1921, Dr. Jackson accepted a position as Director of the School of Public Health at Howard University Medical School.
Dr. Jackson was a pioneer in the treatment of rheumatism and preventive and public health issues. He was a proponent of the National Negro Health Movement, an organization that promoted health education within the black community in the U.S., providing greater access to healthcare and encouraging an increase in the number of black professionals who entered the field of public health.
Dr. Jackson was a prolific writer whose work appeared in many newspapers including the Pittsburgh Courier, the New York Amsterdam News, the Baltimore Afro-American and the Chicago Defender. His writing dealt mostly with health advice and preventative medicine for the African American community. In addition to his notable medical achievements, Dr. Jackson was a founding member of the highly exclusive Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, the first and oldest African-American Greek-lettered organization.
Dr. Mansfield (1928 – 2018), a well-regarded pioneer in the field of radiation oncology, served as chair of that department at Thomas Jefferson University from 1983 to 1994. His research yielded innovative techniques in radiation treatment, such as the understanding of highly targeted, tissue-sparing therapy and intraoperative radiation therapy in breast cancer. He was also an early advocate for interdisciplinary care models to identify best strategies for each patient.
Dr. Mansfield did not come easily to the field of medicine. He was born in Philadelphia in 1928 to a single mother who worked as a housekeeper and raised him with the help of her parents. While this was a significant barrier to becoming a physician, Dr. Mansfield did achieve his goal. He attended the Howard University School of Medicine in the 1950s, one of the few medical schools open to African-American students at that time.
After medical school, Dr. Mansfield completed residencies in radiology and radiation therapy/nuclear medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the Episcopal Hospital in Philadelphia. He was awarded a number of fellowships, including a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellowship in radiation therapy, the Chernicoff fellowship in pediatric radiation therapy at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, and an advanced clinical fellowship in cancer by the American Cancer Society.
Dr. Mansfiend’s obituary notes that he was known for his character, dignity, discipline, and strength. He mentored hundreds of medical students, residents, and junior faculty. His famous mottos were “the only reason we do research is to better treat the patients” and “the only reason we train residents is to better treat the patients.”
Dr. Esmond Mapp was born in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in 1928. He received his undergraduate and MD degrees from Howard University and entered the U.S. Naval Medical Corps in the 1950s. Dr. Mapp held faculty positions at Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, Emory University School of Medicine and Temple University. He came to Jefferson in 1976 where he was a professor of radiology until his untimely death from colon cancer in 1991.
Dr. Mapp was active nationally in medical education and radiology. He was a consultant to the National Naval Medical Center, chair of the section on radiology of the National Medical Association, secretary of the Pennsylvania Radiological Society, and was active in many other organizations. He received the first annual Outstanding Educator Award of the Philadelphia Roentgen Ray Society in 1991.
According to his obituary, Dr. Mapp possessed a sly sense of humor that lurked beneath his quiet demeanor, and he was loved by virtually everyone in his department at Jefferson.
Dr. Jerry McCauley is a Professor; Medical Director of the Transplantation Services and Chief of Nephrology; and Vice Chairman, Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Jefferson. He attended Dartmouth Medical School and completed residency at the Roger Williams Medical Hospital and fellowship in Nephrology at Massachusetts General Hospital and New England Medical Center.
Dr. McCauley worked closely with the United Network for Organ Sharing Minority Affairs Committee to develop a policy that is allowing minorities to receive transplants with better odds. The policy was intended to increase equity in access to kidney transplants and promote more effective utilization of available organs, and recent findings prove it to be successful.
“About 20 years ago,” Dr. McCauley continued, “African-Americans and Hispanics donated organs at a rate somewhat lower than they represented in the U.S. population. Today the ethnic makeup of donors is essentially the same as the population. This reflects the success of outreach by many organizations and donation advocates to engage minority communities and address their specific questions and concerns about the donation process.”
Dr. William McNett completed medical school at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. Having been on a US Navy scholarship, he completed his pediatric training at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and was on active duty serving our country in Long Beach, CA, Okinawa, Japan, and in Philadelphia. His experience in the military (prior to the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy) was an invaluable but also informed how he wanted to practice medicine and live his life honestly as a gay person and a pediatrician who was gay. Dr. McNett has been a well-loved pediatrician and educator at Jefferson for many years. He ran the Introduction to Clinical Medicine course (now called the Clinical Skills Small Group) for nine years, winning multiple teaching awards. He currently runs eight primary care practices in Southeast Pennsylvania for SKMC’s pediatric partner, Nemours in addition to staying active on campus and continues to maintain a busy pediatric practice.
Dr. McNett is the faculty advisor to student group, JeffLGBTQ. This group provides support, outreach, and networking for sexual and gender minorities including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer students. JeffLGBTQ coordinates educational events and hosts speakers to increase awareness within the Jefferson community regarding LGBTQ life and health disparities, organizes community outreach and professional development, and fosters a social and supportive community for LGBTQ-identifying individuals and their allies. He has been in this role for almost 20 years being one of a handful of ‘out’ clinicians on campus. He has mentored many medical students, residents, and fellows since he joined SKMC faculty in 1996.
Dr. McNett’s biggest challenge but also great source of pride is teaching the young clinician how to ask clinical questions without assumptions and prejudice. We all harbor implicit bias and have been victims ourselves of implicit bias in one way or another. By being aware and striving to improve is both a huge challenge and endearing strength.
His favorite thing about Jefferson is the openness and eagerness to excel among our medical students. By being honest about who he is, the students who identify as part of the queer community can see themselves practicing medicine as who they are and not as society thinks they should be. Dr. McNett feels embraced by the Jefferson community and in turn, feels the need to give back.
Dr. Edith Peterson Mitchell is a Clinical Professor of Medicine and Medical Oncology, Department of Medical Oncology; Director, Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities; Associate Director, Diversity Affairs, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson; and the 116th President National Medical Association. She is the program leader of Gastrointestinal Oncology at Jefferson and serves as the director of the Center to Eliminate Cancer Disparities for the Kimmel Cancer Center. While attending the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Dr. Mitchell entered the Air Force and received a commission through the Health Professions Scholarship Program. She began active duty after completing her internship and residency in internal medicine at Meharry Medical College and a fellowship in medical oncology at Georgetown University.
Dr. Mitchell has spent her medical career helping people in medically underserved areas through patient advocacy, community outreach and volunteer initiatives. Her work addresses inequities in healthcare, and assisting underrepresented populations in accessing the latest advances in medicine and science.
As a retired brigadier general, Dr. Mitchell has been awarded more than 15 service medals and ribbons. She was the first female physician to attain this rank in the history of the U.S. Air Force, and served as the Air National Guard assistant to the command surgeon for U.S. Transportation Command and Headquarters Air Mobility Command.
Dr. Mitchell’s research in breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers and other GI malignancies involves new drug evaluation and chemotherapy, development of new therapeutic regimens, chemoradiation strategies for combined modality therapy, patient selection criteria and supportive care for patients with gastrointestinal cancer.
Dr. Mitchell is the recipient of numerous professional awards including a Promise Grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Society of Clinical Oncology Humanitarian Award.
Dr. Gregory Snyder, a 2015 SKMC graduate, is a attending hospital medicine clinician at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Partners Healthcare. He completed his Internal Medicine training at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, as well as his MBA at the Harvard Business School. He is dedicated to improving the patient experience through technology and healthcare delivery redesign. His TED talk describes his experience as a patient with spinal cord injury, and how it renovated his perspective on healthcare leadership. Dr. Snyder now focuses on new service delivery models, clinical quality improvement, and patient navigation across transitions of care. He currently works with healthcare technology startups to improve primary care. He is Affiliate Faculty at Ariadne Labs, a joint venture between the Harvard School of Public Health and the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, where he studies primary care models.
A year before graduation from Jefferson, Dr. Snyder suffered a complete spinal cord injury due to a traumatic fall while hiking with his dog. He underwent two spinal fusion surgeries and a long recovery at Magee Rehabilitation, where he learned to function with complete paraplegia.
Dr. Snyder has said that being a patient is an inescapable, conspicuous part of his life. This new experience has given him a nuanced, empathic understanding of his patients, particularly those with functional disability, mobility challenges and the elderly. He believes that there is value to be explored in the subtle difference between being a patient, learning from doctors, and being a doctor, learning from patients. In a New York Times article, Dr. Snyder stated, “I would have been this six-foot-tall, blond-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian doctor, standing at the foot of the bed in a white coat,” he said. “Now I’m a guy in a wheelchair, sitting right next to my patients. They know I’ve been in that bed just like they have. And I think that means something.”
Dr. Snyder says that Jefferson represents the foundation upon which he has worked to generate his contribution to the field of medicine saying, "From the highest levels of academic leadership to the frontline clinicians with whom I worked as a student, mentorship through the Sidney Kimmel Medical College guided me through professional decisions and to the interests I now pursue. When I experienced my own setbacks as a student, Jefferson’s personalized support allowed me to face my challenge with confidence. My hope is that Jefferson students feel the level of support that I did, as they pursue their own professional paths, and that they continue to represent a diverse community of healthcare leaders that will shape the direction of healthcare delivery."
Dr. Alliric I Willis is the Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs; Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs & Faculty Development; and the Co-Director of the Thyroid and Parathyroid Center at Jefferson. He completed residency at the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis. His fellowship included surgical research at Yale followed by surgical oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center. He won the Dean's Award for Excellence in Education at SKMC in 2018. Dr. Willis’ surgical specialties include Breast Surgery, Endocrine Surgery, General Surgery and Surgical Oncology.
Dr. Willis’ research addresses demographic disparities in the diagnosis and treatment of cancers of the breast, rectum, stomach and other diseases among minority patients, older patients and patients who possibly lack access to care because of their insurance.
“It’s an interesting field that is becoming increasingly appreciated as we talk about quality and outcomes,” he says. “We can’t just look at the big picture. We have to focus at the individual patient level, including those who may not be achieving great outcomes. As clinicians, we can ask the right questions, team up with good epidemiologists and biostatisticians, and do analyses to figure out what’s significant—and what we can do to make outcomes better for everyone.”
Medical Doctor and Assistant Professor, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Inductee of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honorary Medical Society, Alpha Chapter of PA of Jefferson Medical College for achievements in scholarship, medical education, research and community service. Recognized by Governor of PA as an “Everyday Hero” for her commitment and excellent service to the communities in the Commonwealth during Black History Month 2013 also identified as one out of 684 of the city’s Best Physicians in Philadelphia in August 2013. The Philadelphia Tribune recognized Dr. Witt in 2016 as one of the years Women Achieving honorees selected by Jefferson Hospital for excellence and immense value to her organization. Recently celebrating 25 years of service at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Dr. Witt is an avid clinician, teacher and supporter of educating our communities about health issues, and preparing residents and medical students to provide culturally sensitive, quality health care. She is actively involved locally, invited to speak at multiple conferences on topics such as, “Why Abstinence”, “Men’s Health”, “Healthy Kingdom Living”, “Taking Care of Your Temple”, Getting Old is Getting Old”, in addition to serving as servant leader for the Health and Wellness Ministry at Sharon Baptist Church, and member for past 22 years. As a leader in faith-based health care initiatives locally she broadened her service internationally. As CFO and Medical Director of Glory Unlimited International Ministries, she organizes volunteer medical teams to travel abroad and provide mobile medical services to impoverished communities, most recently in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico after the devastation from Hurricane Maria and scheduled to serve in Freeport, Grand Bahamas in December 2019 after the devastation from Hurricane Dorian. Communities of Montego Bay/Kingston, Jamaica; Kenya, Africa and Croix-des-Bouquet, Haiti, have also been impacted by teams sharing God’s love through medicine focused on the ministries global theme: “Do Something More...For the Poor”.
Dr. Witt also welcomes students from various disciplines ie, nursing/ medical/nurse practitioners and medical residents have the opportunity to take electives to obtain credits, in the realm of “service-learning” to experience the true “Art of Medicine” and the importance of their impact globally.
Dr. Witt has served on numerous boards, to name a few, Society of Teachers of Family Medicine , American Heart Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility and many more over the years. As Team Captain, for “Team SBC”, with Susan G. Komen of Philadelphia, “Race for the Cure” and and American Cancer Society, “Making Strides Against Breast Cancer”, a strong advocate against breast cancer. Tirelessly educating and advocating for our health and wellness within our communities, with special covering of God’s Love.