VP&S Students Host Latino Medical Student Association Meeting

The Black and Latino Student Organization at VP&S, with the support of the Office of Student Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging, hosted the Latino Medical Student Association’s Fall House of Delegates for the first time in the national organization’s 50-year history. Nearly 100 medical students, including chapter representatives from 43 medical schools across the Northeast, attended the event.

The theme this year was “Unidos, Empoderando la Comunidad” (Together, Strengthening the Community), chosen because it represents the association’s commitment to empowering local communities through policy change, research initiatives, nutrition as medicine, and more.

The speakers at the event offered insight into their experiences as community health leaders and spoke about their vision for the future of community health initiatives. Melissa Hynds, medical student at VP&S and 2023 LMSA president, welcomed the conference attendees. Hynds was a co-leader of the conference alongside Kimberly Sanchez and Gerardo Ramos-Lemos, also VP&S medical students.

Gerardo Ramos-Lemos, Melissa Hynds, and Kimberly Sanchez

William Turner, MD, assistant dean for student affairs and BALSO faculty adviser, spoke about the impact students as future leaders can have on the communities they serve. Juan Emilio Carillo, MD, president and chief medical officer of the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Community Health Plan, spoke about his experience as a founding member of the Boricua Health Organization, a student group that joined with others in the 1980s to form what is now the LMSA.

“Hearing Dr. Carillo speak and share his journey on advocating for Latino students and the Latino community was extremely inspiring,” says Maria Vera Alvarez, a medical student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Olajide A. Williams, MD, vice dean for community health, shared his community-based behavioral intervention research findings and spoke about developing an international public health initiative as founder and chair of Hip Hop Public Health.

The conference workshops focused on educating and empowering students on common issues migrants face and how to combat them as physicians and as future leaders. “We hope that all these future Latino physicians take what they learned here and implement it in their own communities and throughout their careers to empower the people they are interacting with,” Hynds says.

The weekend conference ended with a NewYork-Presbyterian-sponsored community service event that encouraged students to partner with a local laundromat to cover laundry services for families in need and provide toiletries.

Students at the LMSA House of Delegates conference partnered with a local laundromat to cover laundry services for families in need and provide toiletries.


More information

The Black and Latino Student Organization (BALSO) at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons is an active chapter of the Student National Medical Association and the Latino Medical Student Association. Learn more.