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Pipeline Program Marks 10 Years of Increasing Diversity in Health Careers

November 2019

Health Careers student and Rosalind Gregory-Bass, M. D. On her office wall in the Science Center, Rosalind Gregory-Bass, M.D, C’92, proudly displays a diploma earned by Georgia R. Dwelle, M.D., C'1900, the first Spelman College alumna to obtain a medical degree.

The diploma serves as an inspirational reminder of Spelman’s pioneering legacy in healthcare.

“I tell students that if she could overcome obstacles and achieve her goals in the early 1900s, so can they,” said Gregory-Bass, director of Spelman’s Health Careers Program and chair and associate professor of environmental and health sciences. “We’re here to support them along the way.”

HCOPPP Johnson & Johnson Scholars One of the ways Spelman supports aspiring health professionals is through its Health Career Opportunities Pipeline Preparation Program, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in April 2019.

HCOPPP, created by Gregory-Bass, identifies highly motivated, first-year students who desire to be change agents
in health care. She and Alayna Blash,  D.P.M., C’94, associate director of the Health Careers Program, work to develop programming and experiences for students throughout the academic year.

HCOPPP grew out of a summer science program funded by the federal government’s Health Resources and Services Administration and Health Careers Opportunity Program. While the summer program ended in 2009, Gregory-Bass hopes to bring it back, as well as a Health Careers Living and Learning Community.

As an alumna of the summer program, she knows it was highly effective in preparing incoming first-year students for a successful undergraduate experience, and acceptance to the nation’s top graduate and professional schools. Studies have shown cohort models like HCOPPP to be successful in enhancing the retention and graduation of students at the undergraduate level, she noted.

The goal is to assist students in making a successful transition into graduate and professional schools, as well as into health professions.

Class of 2023 HCOPP Graduates HCOPPP scholars receive mentoring, exposure to internship and research opportunities, professional development, test-preparation options, and assistance with graduate and professional school applications.

Through articulation agreements with 23 graduate and professional schools, the program offers students opportunities for advanced study in medicine, dentistry, nursing, public health, pharmacy, as well as veterinary, chiropractic and exercise sciences.

Last spring, the program accepted 15 new scholars for its 11th class, which commenced fall 2019. To date, the program has worked with 137 HCOPPP scholars, many of whom have graduated and are working in their chosen fields.

Biology major Amani Lee, C’2018, a 2016 HCOPPP scholar, said the program prepared her for the academic rigor she now faces in the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Being a part of HCOPPP was a great opportunity because it exposed me to various health professionals and events that targeted people of color,” said Lee, who is in her second year at Tuskegee. “This program helped me find my calling and passion for veterinary medicine.”

“The new strategic plan states that it wants us to look at how we’re providing a competitive edge for our students, and this definitely is doing so,” said Gregory-Bass. “It’s just been great to know that when we send these students to postgraduate programs, they have what they need to be successful.”

By Connie Green Freightman as seen in Spelman Messenger