The American Osteopathic Foundation is proud to recognize eight outstanding minority Osteopathic medical students as recipients of the prestigious William G. Anderson, DO, Minority Scholarship in 2023.
Ifa Abduljelil, OMS III
Student Doctor Abduljelil has substantial experience as both an independent and collaborative researcher, with authorship of several presentations and publications to his credit. He has actively served his local community through various organizations and has been involved in numerous community service and volunteer activities. Additionally, he has sought out and completed a range of relevant career-enhancing training courses.
Ifa summarized his journey into academia by saying, "The path to medical school takes on a new dimension as an underrepresented minority (URM) in the U.S." Hailing from Ethiopia, Ifa encountered challenges on his journey that required him to develop resilience and patience. Adapting to a new culture meant constant adjustment, a valuable skill in the field of medicine. He attributes his non-traditional journey and commitments outside of medicine to his academic success.
Brittney Harrell, OMS III
As a medical student, Ms. Harrell has “devoted countless hours towards increasing representation in medicine, highlighting the needs of minorities to foster health equity, and making sure everyone is seen within medicine regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.” As the inaugural student government president at her COM, Brittney has immersed herself in activities and efforts that demonstrate her commitment to address inequities in health care delivery to underserved populations.
In addition to her leadership roles, Brittney has been dedicated to volunteering for numerous events and organizations. Her involvement includes participating as a panelist for the Minorities in Medicine panel at the University of Utah, working as a student doctor at the Mountainland Volunteer Care Clinic, conducting clinical testing at the Orem Community Health Fair, providing health screenings at the Juneteenth Health Fair, and assisting with resource distribution for The Vagina Project.
Kesheé Harris, OMS IV
Kesheé has taken on leadership roles in various organizations, including the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) where she served as President and First Year Liaison and the Integrated Minds Meditation Workshop, which she co-founded.
Student Doctor Harris’ background has been a driving force behind her commitment to addressing healthcare disparities in underserved communities. She emphasizes, "My background has provided me with a strong foundation for understanding the origins of medical inequality in our nation." Her academic pursuits are focused on finding solutions to these complex issues, benefiting not only the communities she serves but also her fellow students through internal and external outreach initiatives. Kesheé's motivation stems from a comprehensive perspective that considers both the challenges and opportunities, driving her to continue her efforts in the field.
Torhiana Haydel, OMS IV
In addition to her academic pursuits, Student Doctor Haydel dedicates her time, skills, and resources to several volunteer activities and professional service roles, such as serving on the VCOM Diversity & Inclusion Committee, acting as a health liaison for Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents (COSGP) VCOM Global, and representing her institution as a student ambassador for the Global Seminar for Health and Environment Student Government Association.
Student Doctor Haydel's career choice has been driven by her belief that "children deserve an opportunity to grow old." She adopted this mantra as her guiding principle. Additionally, as an underrepresented minority in medicine, she credited her two childhood physicians, both black women physicians, for inspiring her. She admired them for their relatability, empathy, and commitment to delivering equitable care regardless of a patient's socioeconomic status, especially at a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). Her aspiration to emulate these two accomplished women, combined with her tenacity and determination, propels her toward a successful career in medicine.
Adaku Ikoh, OMS III
University of Pikeville – KYCOM
Student Doctor Ikoh has received awards and honors, including the Sankofa Culture Award from the University of Pikesville, SNMA Region X Leadership recognition as a National intern, and an Education Scholarship from Global International.
Adaku's early life experiences played a significant role in guiding her toward a career in medicine. She explains, "The reality that my community only had access to certain resources shaped my world view. It ignited in me a passion to excel academically and learn more about health policies and advocacy." Witnessing the challenges faced by women, especially those of color, further fueled her determination to pursue her chosen path, regardless of economic obstacles that may have arisen.
Numa Rehmani, OMS III
Ms. Rehmani is actively involved in various school-sponsored organizations, including the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP), American College of Osteopathic Neurologists and Psychiatrists (ACONP), American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOOG), American College of Osteopathic Pediatricians (ACOP), the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) medical outreach and volunteer effort, and the Student Osteopathic Medical Association (SOMA).
In her community, she has contributed as a Research Assistant at UVA Connelly Neuropsychology, as a coach at the Panthers United Field Hockey Club, and as a professional medical translator.
Numa Rehmani describes herself as "a fierce advocate for all people" and is dedicated to addressing inequities within medicine. She is committed to using her passion and expertise throughout her medical career to make a positive impact on the communities she serves.
Elham Shams, OMS IV
Elham has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to service through her broad involvement in organizations such as the UMC Free Clinic at NSU-KPCOM, Feeding South Florida, Sober House Well Environment, and Lotus House. Her involvement as a data collector in the Johns Hopkins Home Safety Project during her graduate school years provided her with a deeper understanding of the daily challenges faced by many individuals and motivated her to seek ways to address systemic disparities.
Student Doctor Shams' dedication to making a meaningful difference in the lives of individuals who share her background was inspired by her own experiences and limited means. Speaking to her volunteer experiences, Shams said, “…I felt a connection with those I served, and this experience inspired me to continue pursuing leadership positions that would uplift minority voices and instill a sense of belonging in each member of my community.”
Nicole Sims, OMS IV
Throughout her medical school journey, she has displayed an unwavering commitment to mentorship and leadership. Embracing these roles with enthusiasm, she has not only set high standards for herself but has actively sought opportunities to guide and inspire her peers. As President of the White Coats for Black Lives (WC4BL) club at COMP Northwest, she and her teammates started a mentorship program aimed at students from historically underrepresented groups in medicine with the goal of demystifying the application process.
Alongside faculty and students at COMP Northwest, she helped to establish COMP Northwest’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Center and noted that she “intend(s) to continue developing DEI education programs to help inform my peers as they develop into culturally competent physicians in an effort to improve patient outcomes.”
Named for civil rights pioneer and Osteopathic trailblazer William G. Anderson, DO, the AOF Anderson Minority Scholarship recognizes minority medical students who show exceptional promise, strong financial need, and a commitment to addressing barriers and inequities in health care.
The scholarship was expanded in 2022 thanks to a generous $1 million endowment from The Heatherington Foundation for Innovation and Education in Health Care and provides $10,000 awards.