Columbia Medical Student Receives McDonogh Scholarship

January 18, 2019
VP&S medical student Emery Jamerson, 2018 Dr. David K. McDonogh Scholarship Winner
VP&S medical student Emery Jamerson, 2018 Dr. David K. McDonogh Scholarship Winner. Photo courtesy of National Medical Fellowships.

Emery Jamerson’19, a medical student at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, received the 2018 Dr. David K. McDonogh Scholarship in Ophthalmology/ENT, an award created to honor the legacy of a man who completed studies at VP&S in the 1800s but was denied a degree because of his race.

Jamerson was presented with the award in November at a special reception hosted by the National Medical Fellowships, a group that provides scholarships and support for underrepresented minority students in medicine and the health professions.

The Dr. David K. McDonogh Scholarship Fund was created by a group of New York ophthalmologists and ENT (ear, nose, and throat) physicians who are dedicated to increasing the number of underrepresented physicians interested in ophthalmology and ENT. The fund supports individuals who have black, Afro-Latino, or Native American backgrounds and are enrolled in medical school in the state of New York, have an interest in a career in ophthalmology or ENT specialties, and are committed to academic excellence, research, leadership, and service.

McDonogh, who was born an enslaved person on a plantation in New Orleans in 1821, became the nation’s first African-American physician in ophthalmology/ENT. During the 2018 VP&S graduation ceremony, McDonogh was awarded his Columbia MD degree posthumously. Patricia Worthy accepted the diploma on behalf of her great-great-grandfather. 

Jamerson will begin a residency in ophthalmology following his graduation from VP&S in May 2019. During medical school, he worked with Lama Al-Aswad, MD, associate professor of ophthalmology at VP&S, and provided free vision exams to at-risk populations in the New York City area through Columbia’s tele-ophthalmology mobile vision unit (described in the video below). He also mentored other students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine.

Columbia VP&S Scholarly Projects Program

“I feel very fortunate to have been recognized by a group of diverse mentors in the field of ophthalmology whom I greatly admire,” says Jamerson. “Inclusion and representation of all groups is extremely important in medicine, as having a diverse physician workforce engenders trust amongst patients and strengthens the therapeutic alliance between patients and their physician. I hope to continue to increase exposure to ophthalmology among underrepresented communities.” 

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