Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine held commencement ceremonies May 8, 2018, at the Alhambra Ballroom for the Class of 2018 candidates for its Master of Science program in Interdisciplinary Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences. The unique program helps fulfill a key part of the school’s mission to train underrepresented minorities with an emphasis on working in underserved communities.

Keynote speaker Geoffrey Eaton, president, NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch, and a founding member of TouroCOM-Harlem’s Community Advisory Board, told the students they were “the next level of people who might save my life.” Eaton said, “For the last 10 years we have worked together with amazing faculty and outstanding deans to create more programs to get more people of color to get into schools so they can…become doctors and come back to our communities. I encourage you to come back to the Harlems of this nation to help your communities become healthier. We have a health crisis in this nation that continues to be a challenge for all of us.”

Keynote speaker Michael Hardy, Esq., also a founding TouroCOM-Harlem Community Advisory Board member and EVP for National Action Network, told the graduates, “Make sure that you when you go on your journey you become relevant to someone other than yourself. You should always be determined in everything you do and you will not only find success, but appreciation.” Hardy challenged the students to “do something remarkable with your life and be the active hero in your life. Believe in yourself and the world will believe in you.”

Since its founding nine years ago, the master’s program has enrolled 292 URMs, and provided a pipeline for 120 of its graduates to become doctors through admission into TouroCOM’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program. Eighty-five of the master’s graduates are now physicians, with the rest completing their four-year medical school education. Other M.S. graduates have entered other medical schools and health care programs throughout the U.S. In part because of the master’s program, TouroCOM has twice the number of URM students when compared to the national average.