publication date: Oct. 23, 2020

MSK program opens doors for young cancer researchers from diverse backgrounds

By Matthew Bin Han Ong

As a child of Haitian immigrants in Queens, Rachelle Monteau watched her uncle struggle with leukemia.

“He would only go to Queens General Hospital, because it’s a public hospital,” Monteau said to The Cancer Letter. “He doesn’t really have very good insurance, so when he started getting sick, that’s where he went. Even though the tests were really expensive and everything was not looking good for him, the hospital didn’t have the correct equipment or the correct physicians to accurately take care of him.”

Monteau’s uncle was eventually treated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, thanks to Monteau’s father, a physician assistant, who recognized the symptoms of leukemia.

Monteau, 19, is a pre-med student at The City College of New York. She is enrolled in the Sophie Davis Program, an intensive seven-year Bachelor of Science/Doctor of Medicine medical education program designed to equip students for a successful transition into residency and primary care.

“My first exposure to healthcare disparities was through my family. This drove me to apply to the pre-medical program I’m in, because it’s focused on public health in primary care,” Monteau said. “The mission of Sophie Davis is basically to take students from underserved populations, help them become doctors, and then encourage them to go back to the populations they’re from and help. We know that in certain places and in certain areas, there’s just not the same level of care, because there aren’t doctors there.”

This past summer, Monteau was accepted as a pre-med intern at MSK, where she was selected for the Summer Clinical Oncology Research Experience Program, … Continue reading MSK program opens doors for young cancer researchers from diverse backgrounds

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