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Marcus Iwane wins major student award, one of only 12 awarded in 2008 to Minority Scholars

Date: June 12th, 2008 in JABSOM News, Student Life    Print or PDF

Pictured: Marcus Iwane, MD, in 2010 at the JABSOM Convocation Ceremony.

The American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation and the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) are proud to announce Marcus Iwane, of the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine, as a 2008 Minority Scholars Award recipient. As one of only 12 medical students chosen in the country, he will receive a $10,000 scholarship in recognition of his excellence as a medical student and outstanding promise for a future career in medicine. Iwane is the first student of Native Hawaiian heritage to win the scholarship.

Iwane, who receives the award June 13, 2008 in Chicago, is a second-year medical student at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine. He attended Kamehameha Schools and Mililani Waena School. Iwane co-founded a medical student interest group focusing on the health care of indigenous Hawaiian populations. He is also actively involved with the JABSOM Department of Native Hawaiian Health, helping with blood pressure screenings and health fairs. Additionally, Iwane has conducted various research projects regarding Native Hawaiian Health.

Iwane said he remembers walking through the doors of JABSOM the first time last year, seeing the faces of his new classmates, and hearing that there were 15 other Native Hawaiians among the class. “I couldn’t believe it,” Iwane said. “I turned to my friend, Kuchi, and said, ‘heh fo realz?’” Iwane explained that reaction by citing statistics. “Only 8-9% of Hawai‘i’s practicing physicians are Native Hawaiian,” Iwane said. “But that percentage is rising.”

The Minority Scholars Award recognizes scholastic achievement and promise for the future among first or second-year medical students in groups defined as “historically underrepresented” in the medical profession. Less than seven percent of U.S. physicians fall within these groups, which include African American/Black, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino.

“We are pleased to recognize the outstanding achievements of Marcus Iwane, and to provide him with substantial financial assistance for medical school,” said Barbara Rockett, MD, AMA Foundation President. “His academic accomplishments as well as a variety of activities in his community speak to his commitment to make a difference in the health of minority populations and the medical profession.”

The AMA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the American Medical Association, has made a priority of helping medical students handle the rising cost of their education. On average, future physicians graduate approximately $130,000 in debt, and in many cases the debt load is much higher. Iwane said he is honored by the award, and will use the money to help pay his tuition.

Since its founding in 1950, the AMA Foundation has contributed more than $90 million in educational, research and public health grants.
The Minority Scholars Awards are given in collaboration with the AMA Minority Affairs Consortium, with support from Pfizer Inc.

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