Are Medical Schools a Mirage of Hope for Minority Students?

I am an advocate for supporting young minds who want to excel academically, I believe, no one has the right to determine ones academic success. If a young mind does not wish to improve themselves or their lot, then we cannot force them to do what they are not prepared to do. But there are a lot of young minds who want to succeed, who are determined to meet academic success, but fear that when they succeed, the academic institutions around them, will not be receptive to their story.

I was volunteering at the African-American Museum in Philadelphia; during my break a young black high school student, asked me about myself.  After she shared her aspirations of becoming a physical therapist, I proceeded to share about being a pre-medical student and my endeavors, with The Cush Center for Learning, and The Medical Pledge. During the conversation, she looked astounded, as in how can a confident, young black woman can exist on this journey; of course, this was not a look I was alien to.

Throughout my young career, I received that look, from my own peers and from outside my race, so I reassured her, there are many more like me, you could be one of them. She sighed, so I asked if she gets involved in the medical schools in Philadelphia, she replied, “They don’t want me there.”

It is 2016 and young minority students, and I am sure other underserved students, share the same sentiment. They do not want me there. I asked her why she felt that way and she said I don’t see that many young black girls with confidence in medical school. I suppose I was like a breath of fresh air to her young eyes, but for me, it was an opportunity to inspire her to be better than what society deems she is worth.

During this medical school process, a lot will test you mentally, emotionally and financially.  Because it is not about when you get in, it is the story of how, which people are always in shock about. The how I say is the journey, when it happens well that is the blessing, once it is done, another process begins. But her comments echoed one salient point and that is our society reinforces an inferiority complex to minority students, thus it is no surprise that some feel even with the successes they make, medical schools, are not in their cities to cater to their goals, but that their schools are a mirage of academic learning; a place where some get in, but not them.

To the underserved students, who feel a medical school, or any institute of higher learning, does not want them there; your thoughts are not unfounded.  Based on the history of racism, segregation, discrimination, which tore down the minority, especially African-American community, this matter is resonating with our millennial children.

I hope I was able to inspire that student to try and reach out, as not all administrators and professors of higher learning, wish to exclude, but I told her you must involve yourself in the discussion. If you want to be a doctor, become known, and work at it. This is no cakewalk, but if you walk this path like me and others keep going.

Because believe it or not, there are a lot of individuals who will help you on this journey, but some that will not hesitate to see you fail. And that is a fact known all too well too many. We must be better than the generation before, so the generation after, can change the narrative to they don’t want me there, to, I will go there.





“Do not compare where you stand, with the journey someone else has traveled”

A lot can be said about a person with courage. A war hero, a mother who faces an abuser, to protect her children, a teacher disrespected, on the job, a student struggling academically, and asking for help, and a person willing to be vulnerable for the sake of forging a friendship of sincerity. All of these are moments of courage; it takes a lot for anyone to ask for help. A person can be successful and still need help just as much as a beginner, but what I find troubling are those who feel they are above helping others. In addition, I am also disappointed in those who feel they have a right to compare their journey to another’s. I am referring to individuals in our society, whether it is family, friends, or strangers, who try to define someone by where they are currently, and not by where the person wants to go. I believe no one has the right to define ones academic hope, or pinnacle in life. You cannot gain yardage in your life, towards your success, based on the miles someone else has traveled—it is impossible.

My journey is not your journey, we can be similar, but we will never be the same. As the saying goes, “if all people think the same, then no one would think at all.” I respect the path anyone takes, but I don’t respect people who try to take that path and the right for someone to pursue their dreams from them. My passion for what I want drives me—not your perception of whether I should have it. I had a conversation with a friend and I had to correct and remind her, to not define where she stands, by what I have accomplished. It annoys me when others take on that attitude, as we don’t know the uphill battles everyone endures on the road to success, it can take days, months, or years, but no matter how long, it takes, as long as you do not stop then you’re on the right track. If you continue to define others by what you’ve done and not by what they are doing, you are heading in the wrong direction. In fact, I don’t care how long it takes for one to realize his or her goals, no one cares when you get the degree, they care that you are steadfastly working on garnering it. Most often people are happy to know you have not given up on achieving your goals.

Without a doubt, for everyone who judges someone based on what they think that individual is doing, I have no doubt those individuals are doing the bare minimum to advance their agenda. One never knows where a person is going in life, all you know is what they say and what you choose to hear. If you listen to a person and don’t believe their story, then you have already decided, they are not going to amount to much, but if you listen, hear and respect them you will understand they’re heading in the right direction. Do not be the person, who sits at home and bases where you are, on where or what someone else is doing, you are only setting yourself up for failure. In addition, never use your power to hurt, but always to help another.

For those who can help, or have been helped on their journey, please do not ignore those who need your help, I love when students e-mail me about programs and what to apply for, and I am just beginning in my entrepreneurial endeavors, but I must say, I answer them. No matter what, I answer them, I give time to answer supporters, and donations are not always involved, it’s just positivity and to help others towards their goals. It costs nothing for me to reach back and help someone, when I can. My advice for anyone, help those when they reach out, and remember what it was like when others did not support you. One day, you will stand on the other side of the gate, and let us hope it opens for you, because someone helped you to succeed; whether it was, to become a CEO, a dean, a teacher, a doctor, or a lawyer, whatever success you have you were helped, and never forget that.

Thus, the next time an e-mail or letter comes before you, simply asking for help or guidance, make time, because the person you help today may lead you towards the next rung of your success tomorrow. Remember the door of success swings both ways in life. Therefore, always be good to people on your way up, because one day, you may need them on your way down, and what you do now, determines how long you stay down.



“You don’t have to like me, but you will respect me”

I was checking my e-mails this morning, and came upon a comment from a naysayer, in regards to my vision for The Medical Pledge initiative I am working on and The Cush Center for Learning, Inc. I will not get into specifics, but as you can imagine, it was unsupportive. I will say this, and reiterate always, you must forget the naysayers. They always exist, as they are the ones afraid of something new, different and innovative. They are the ones who keep society regressing, instead of progressing. I believe in the mission of both The Medical Pledge and The Cush Center for Learning, Inc., very strongly.

For every doctor, who does not believe in the concepts behind The Medical Pledge, he or she is entitled, as we cannot all think the same, but you must respect it. I had to bear witness to physicians struggling to keep their practice open, due to low patient volume, physicians struggling to make payroll, keep their utilities on and worried about fines from the U.S. Government, if they did not turn their paper-medical records system, over to EHR. I witnessed physicians double-booking patients, just to make money, at the end of the night, when doing their numbers, this is a reality, a harsh one, but nonetheless true. For every doctor who ignores The Medical Pledge, an entity, which can only help support your business, in the long run, that is unfortunate, but again you are entitled to your opinion. The fact remains; physicians of today cannot afford to keep open private practices, due to all of the above reasons I have mentioned. Physicians of today need to work longer, to make financial ends meet, I do not want to enter a broken healthcare field, I love becoming a physician, I love the journey, and I respect the struggle, but I cannot respect, not being able to make ends meet upon becoming a doctor. I feel  the healthcare system is broken, it needs help, but not without the support of the healthcare community. I believe in The Medical Pledge, it can and will work, and naysayers are the reason why I never give-up.

Students must focus on their studies; they must be rewarded for volunteering their efforts within the community, not struggling to look for jobs, and making grades. Doctors should have patient flow, which can support their practices and skill sets. They should not struggle to seek patients. There are more than enough citizens who need help. We must bridge the gap between the private insurances and Medicaid, so that doctors can benefit from serving all socioeconomic groups, should they choose to. We must allow doctors to garner financial support to maintain their industries. This is not a farce, it takes time to evolve the concept, but it will happen. Support is what brings this to light, naysayers give it ammunition to grow, and my passion behind my initiatives, keep them alive. Therefore, I implore you all to support and forget the naysayers. I implore you all to consider the future of healthcare, which if we do not prepare today, will be a disservice to those on this journey, tomorrow.

I refuse to believe race is a reason, why I garner some naysayers, but I am not ignorant to fact that it can be, it only drives me to reach out to many more, than anyone can imagine. I have said and will continue to say, do not ascribe race to this, if you do not support the mission, then so be it, but do not work against positive concepts, because it is not generated by someone of a like race, please check your prejudice at the door.

I will help others, to ensure opportunities exist to help decrease citizen medial debt, which is needed, help physicians who are struggling, which is needed, and to make sure our students have financial support, which is needed. Thus it is only with support and awareness that these initiatives succeed. As the late Steve Jobs said, “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do.” I know that I can, so therefore I will.



What are educators doing to improve diversity in medicine?

If we are really to have diversity in medicine, the foundation for that science education must begin somewhere.  I was reading the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), and came across an article entitled, “Diversity Dynamics — Challenges to a Representative U.S. Medical Workforce,” by Mr. John K. Iglehart. In the article he discusses what is lacking in our educational system, which may be the justification for the paucity of minorities in the medical workforce today. Mr. Iglehart remarked, that there are, “shortcomings of elementary and secondary schools in preparing minority and low-income students for college, much less medical school…” This statement was of utmost concern, as the founder of The Cush Center for Learning Inc., an organization that aims to work with the underserved in STEM subjects I endeavor to work with our educators to ensure our most inquisitive youth, from underserved areas, are being worked with. If educators are not doing their part, this only justifies the mission of my company, and the work that I endeavor to do.

From my experience, I was assisted along my medical journey by several public school educators, and by some university professors. My parents also played a role in cultivating my academic prowess, via homework and the plethora of science projects I had the option of doing, but for the most part my teachers supported my passion for science. Hopefully, this is not the case in our modern times, yet I have noticed a paucity of certain minorities along my journey. Furthermore, the article also mentioned, there are more African-American women, than men, in medical school, but despite those facts white males tend to exceed all racial groups in medical school, overall. I find this chasm to be of concern. I would like to know, is it that our educators are not reinforcing the scientific passion of our minority men and women or, do minorities, not wish to be a part of this medical arena.

With my company, I will be at the forefront of identifying whether this is the case. I hope my latter viewpoint is wrong, in that schools are willing to do their part to help foster innovation, among the underserved students. I hope The Cush Center for Learning, Inc., can help educators who do not understand the importance of diversity in the STEM arena and medical workforce, realize that diversity is the key to success. In my opinion, without it in our society, our daily life would be stagnant.

Diversity allows for cultural expression and exposure to other worlds. It humbles the medical workforce, and makes us more tolerant of others, as it is the vessel for our future physicians to interact with patients of different backgrounds. Without cultivating diverse academic minds, at the grade school level we are paralyzing our future medical workforce.

If there are young minds, who wish to succeed in the health sciences and wish to become pillars in our medical workforce, educators, must help them realize their dream. I do not feel students do not want help, and I hope the commentary by Mr. Iglehart, does not hold true for future generations. The changes we make today can only serve to improve ourselves for tomorrow. I hope educators, are working together to close this gap in medicine; otherwise, we will be doing a disservice to future patients and ourselves.



The Cush Center for Learning, advises you to forget the naysayers

The other day, I posted an article on LinkedIn discussing that I will give all certified teachers, who volunteer their services to The Cush Center for Learning, Inc. a stipend for doing just that. This is my method of showing teachers respect and paying it forward to our educators. The Cush Center for Learning will have after-school programs to assist students towards success in the STEM subjects; also we will have great tutors to help students who need the extra assistance to meet their academic needs.

I got a lot of responses on my topic, some good and some off-tangent, but overall, I learned a lot. Nevertheless, I had a naysayer in the audience; he felt to write me and say my concept is “loaded” and that I need to write about other things, like early childhood education, as he feels it will garner more support for TCCFL.

While I thanked him for his opinion, I felt the need to say this, I write for me, and my initiatives, period. I am of the belief once something is written, you take what you can from that commentary, and then that is it. There is no need to critique an individual’s comments or opinions, as it is absurd. As per, the U.S. Constitution First Amendment we have “…the freedom of speech, or of the press…” as citizens, thus I do not need to alter my articles for the masses. I simply write about topics I find interesting and share them with you all. My articles are for all to read, whether it is applicable to an individual’s particular story or belief system is not why I write, or why anyone truly writes.

My father, I.K. Cush, is a self-published author and journalist (he wrote for the international magazine, New African) and he writes what he is passionate about, and so I do the same. That is the spirit of freedom of speech and the press. I am not interested in anyone using social media to insult another or to behave in an unsupportive manner of another’s initiatives. As the founder of this company, I implore you to ignore naysayers, as it is often the case, once they have not succeeded or reached a lot of support in their personal endeavors, they will attack those who have.

Keep persisting, writing and articulating your voice to others, it will serve to have your ideas come to fruition, and you’ll be more successful overall. Take constructive criticism, to help you, but I ignore those who, as Barbara Streisand sang in Funny Girl “Rain on my parade!”



The Cush Center for Learning, Inc. wants to pay teachers

I love the work teachers do. They are the reason our students are learning, each day, so why are they overstressed and underpaid? Well, it is because they are not given the respect they deserve. I read a lot of articles about good teachers versus bad teachers, but what I do not see is how to begin respecting our teachers. All teachers have stresses, and some of them simply boil down to disrespect, whether it is from administration, government, colleagues, and of course, students, it occurs. I have decided teachers need to be rewarded, they are on the front lines of the educational journey for many youth, and they need to be respected for dealing with all levels of academic changes and student concerns.

As part of The Cush Center for Learning, Inc., I will have my after-school programs for STEM, and we will have great tutors to help with reinforcement of the STEM subjects, but what we need are teachers to volunteer their time and work with our kids too. I do not wish for teachers to do this gratis, as they often buy their own school supplies and make their own copies and all because they are passionate about education, so I will give all certified teachers, who offer their services to The Cush Center for Learning, Inc. a stipend for doing just that. There is no reason why they must leave work, and help my center out, and not be compensated. I will see to it, that they get their just rewards. I find no reason why this cannot happen or shall not happen, so let’s support The Cush Center for Learning, Inc. today, so I can make that happen. In addition, I will garner the grant money to ensure this endeavor is everlasting, for future teachers who come to help us out. I believe in paying things forward in society, and it starts now.



So, do we need diversity in STEM…or is it already there?

Periodically, I come across articles stating the STEM fields are not diverse, and that they need to be. I find diversity in STEM is right before the eyes of every teacher, from K-12, in addition, to those on the university level. However, the issue is who continues to support those young diverse minds, when they fall behind their less diverse counterparts? The answer is, the teachers and the schools should step in, but that is not always the case. As a result, those young minds become dormant, and they do not receive the supplementary enrichment that is needed to succeed.

If we are to really invest in diversity we need to invest in organizations like The Cush Center for Learning, Inc. and Harlem Children’s Zone and other non-profit companies that help encourage diversity, and foster education among the underserved. I welcome your continued support for The Cush Center for Learning, Inc. Without it we lose diverse young minds in the STEM fields, and with that will go innovation. Now do we have time for that, I do not think so.