UH Med Now

Getting a Student into JABSOM: It Takes a Village

Date: April 15th, 2019 in External News, JABSOM News, MINORITY, Student Life, UH Manoa    Print or PDF

MD 2022 at White Coat.

Pictured: The MD Class of 2022 moments before their White Coat Ceremony began. Deborah Manog Dimaya photo.

By Tina Shelton, JABSOM Communications Director

Jay Anderson’s eyes grew wet, and he began to choke up when asked what he was feeling moments before his daughter, Clare-Marie, was presented a short, white coat in a ceremony marking her official entry into the University of Hawaii (UH) medical school. He grew emotional because he was thinking of all the other people — as he put it, the “village” — who helped support his daughter and his family in getting Clare-Marie to this point.

Jay Anderson with his daughter when she was a little girl.

“It takes a lot. It takes the community and a village to get kids through school these days,” said Anderson, who explained that his family had to move from rural Molokai Island to Oahu so that Clare-Marie could attend a well-regarded private school to prepare for medical school.

Clare-Marie remembers the painful day, in fourth grade, when with a quivering voice and damp cheeks, she asked her parents if the family could move to urban Oahu. It wasn’t a decision made lightly. She loved Molokai.

“My dream of becoming a doctor is rooted in the red dirt of a Hawaiian island small enough to be mistaken for a speck of dust on a world map,” she wrote in her entrance application to JABSOM, which she gave us permission to share here.

“Without any traffic lights, skyscrapers, or even shopping malls, the island of Molokai is truly unique. As a young girl, my imagination thrived in my family’s two-acre backyard.  I loved every moment of my adventurous childhood, which is what made leaving my beloved island so difficult.”

But even at the tender age of 10, Clare-Marie had questions elementary school couldn’t answer. She burned to know more about science and biology.

“My heart danced with the discovery that my new school would have progressive laboratory facilities complete with compound microscopes for genetic experimentations, and chemicals of every color- resources a small-town girl once thought unimaginable,” Clare-Marie wrote. “As I grew older, my awe of the human body flourished in anatomy and biology lessons”. While in college, Clare-Marie developed a passionate desire to become a physician.

Her father takes pride in remembering how hard she worked at UH Manoa, especially given she became a student-athlete, playing on the Wahine volleyball team. She earned high enough scores not only to get into the John A. Burns School of Medicine, but to be awarded a full, four-year merit scholarship.

“(That) was wonderful,” Jay recalled, “because, as it has been for most families here, I would imagine, it has been a financial challenge to get this far.”

Clare-Marie Anderson and family.

Clare-Marie Anderson with her parents after a UH volleyball match.

Clare-Marie’s family moved back home to the Friendly Isle, and she often returns to visit, and take in the health care setting there. “Physicians are both incredibly compassionate and qualified, (on Molokai) but resources familiar to larger, more modern communities are scarce in the rural community,” she says. “The need for more doctors practicing in rural places has sparked the fusion of my passions, biology and promoting healthcare in underserved populations, into my greatest goal of becoming an OB/GYN or family medicine doctor. Since this realization, I have been enthusiastically chasing my dream to be a doctor committed to fostering not only the healthcare of my patients, but also their education.”

Clare-Marie’s village has encompassed the people, primary school teachers and health providers of Molokai, educators at private school, parents willing to sacrifice anything for a gifted child, professors at UH Manoa, academic medicine mentors at JABSOM and those who believe that scholarships are an investment in the future that pays an immeasurable dividend.

Jester Galiza was 6,000 miles away from his native Hawaii when he realized that as a future physician, the community he needed to serve would be his own.

Jester Galiza, MD 2022 Candidate

Born and raised in Ewa Beach, Galiza was valedictorian of his class at Campbell High School. He was attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, already a trained Emergency Medical Technician, studying pre-med. He volunteered for an 11-week trip to Peru to work with a health services organization. That is when his transformative moment happened.

“The physician that was working in that clinic was from that community. Another physician was there who wasn’t from that community. And I saw the difference. When I was working with the doctor who was from that community, the barriers (between the doctor and the patient) were completely eliminated. The trust was there. I think it was at that moment, that salient moment, where I recognized there is so much power in going back to your community and serving in partnership with that community. And that definitely was a huge moment for me in recognizing my desire to go back to Hawaii and serve my community,” said Galiza.

“There is so much power in going back to your community and serving in partnership with that community,” said Jester Galiza, MD 2022 Class President.

Jester is MD 2022 Class President. He is a natural leader full of confidence with terrific sense of humor. From very early in grade school he wanted to be a teacher. In sixth grade, however, he encountered a teacher, Mr. Oshiro, who encouraged him to consider additional options including medicine, law or engineering.

Mr. Oshiro continued to mentor Galiza as he prepared for high school. “He was tough on me and challenged me like no other teacher did. He told me I was destined for great things. He was one of my biggest motivators. He told me, ‘You’re going to be valedictorian, you’re going to participate in athletics, you’re going to be class president, he was just listing all these things, and then he said you are going to go to an Ivy League school when you graduate,’ and I thought to myself, what is an Ivy League school?” Galiza chuckles.

But Galiza took all the science and health occupation courses he could. He sought out the honors and Advanced Placement courses Oshiro recommended. And he ended up checking all the boxes: becoming class president, valedictorian and enrolling in Dartmouth College. “That was where I really experienced academic failure for the first time and realized I was behind,” he said. He felt unprepared to understand science the way most other pre-med students in his class seemed to have learned it, beyond just memorization.

Galiza family

Galiza (R) with his parents and siblings.

“Undergrad is when I started feeling doubt,” Galiza said. Still, he remained an above-average student at Dartmouth. When asked what continued to fuel him during those difficult periods, he said it was gratitude.

“I was so grateful that I had gotten that far. I knew it was an anomaly for someone like me to get that far, and I was super grateful for all the success I had. I knew it was no longer about me – it was for my family, the public schools I attended, my community. I refused to give up because I was incredibly convicted to try to change the narrative. This was the best way I could reciprocate the love and the support that was shown to me.”

Before Galiza applied to medical school, he wanted to make sure his first dream, to be a teacher, was out of his system. He joined Teach for America, obtained a Master’s of Education in Secondary Math from the University of Hawaii, and both taught math and spent several years leading other teachers in the organization on Hawaii Island. When he applied to JABSOM, he was waitlisted. He ended up applying for the Imi Hoola Post-Baccalaureate Program, the intensive one-year JABSOM preparatory program which prepares college graduates from underserved backgrounds for medical school.

Imi prepared me very well and helped me get a good biological and biochemical background,” said Galiza. Now, about 2/3 of the way through his first year as a JABSOM MD student, he is relaxed. “JABSOM has exceeded my expectations for what a medical school could be,” he said. “A rigorous and intellectually stimulating school that fosters collaboration, wellness and fun.”

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