Office of Gift Development

Diversity Recruitment Scholarship

A committee of dedicated volunteers has worked to raise funds to establish a Diversity Recruitment Scholarship at IU School of Medicine. This fund is an important resource to attract the best students from underrepresented populations to IU School of Medicine. The permanent scholarship gives preference to native Hoosiers and special consideration to underrepresented populations, including those with diverse cultural backgrounds or who face significant financial challenges.

Importance of Diversity in Medicine

The health challenges in the black and Latino communities in Indiana are daunting. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports these populations lag behind in 70-plus categories. Chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease lead to more hospital admissions. Patients tend to take fewer steps to prevent breast, colorectal and cervical cancer. HIV infection rates and deaths tend to be higher. And, even now, infant mortality rates have worsened. Put simply, Indiana needs more doctors to serve patients from underrepresented backgrounds.

Three decades of research tells us if minority patients see doctors of their own race or background, they will visit more often, more readily accept a diagnosis and embrace treatment. They report higher satisfaction with their care and feel those doctors better listen to them. Offered the option, people prefer to see a doctor who understands them.

However, minority patients can’t always find a doctor like them. There is only one black doctor for every 3,222 black residents. Latinos face a worse disparity: Just one doctor for every 4,639 people living in Indiana. One clear solution: train more minority physicians.

The Diversity Recruitment Scholarship deepens the pool of funds from which IU School of Medicine can draw to remain competitive, allowing a student to make his or her choice based on fit and not finances. Through this scholarship, Indiana can retain its most talented students and train more physicians who may consider a career caring for underserved populations. Donations of any amount are very much appreciated.

Scholarship Recipients

Alexis Meriweather

When Alexis Meriweather (MD Class of 2018) was named a Rawls Scholar of Medicine, her reward wasn’t solely having her tuition covered at IU School of Medicine. It was affirmation in the face of others’ doubts. “I was told I would not get into IU,” she said. “They told me I shouldn’t even go to my interview.” Persistence, though, is a constant trait for the Michigan City native. The oldest of nine children to working class parents, Meriweather has always known stellar academic performance was necessary to get a scholarship.

While the Rawls Scholarship helps, Meriweather, who holds a degree in kinesiology, works weekends as a manager at a McDonald’s restaurant and takes out loans to foot the remaining bill for medical school. The financial aid she does receive grants Meriweather the flexibility to pursue her ultimate goal. She wants to specialize in family medicine and practice in a low-income community in Indiana.

Meriweather knows that for some black patients, seeing a familiar face can make a difference in choosing to seek treatment. “It makes a big difference going to see someone who looks like you,“ she said, “because people think if you look like them you can understand where they’re coming from.”

Nathan Delafield

Growing up, Nathan Delafield (MD Class of 2016) loved visiting a doctor because it was a haven of stability. Delafield and his mom bounced around Phoenix until he was eight years old, and he spent time in foster care. He often saw drug and domestic abuse as he moved between shelters and low-income housing.

Seeing a physician, though, meant time with someone who was curious and compassionate, and it inspired Delafield’s decision to specialize in internal medicine. One summer during medical school, he returned home to work with the mobile unit from Phoenix Children’s Hospital, which takes doctors and treatment into communities for children facing the same struggles Delafield once did. “Often, the 15 minutes you get to spend with a patient is the only time that they feel safe,” he said.

An aunt and uncle ultimately took Delafield in and raised him. He went on to thrive at Arizona State, where a mentor at the Mayo Clinic, Dr. Marion Kelley, encouraged him to apply to Indiana University School of Medicine. Once admitted, Delafield received scholarships to make his training affordable and allow him to follow his passion: Practicing in under-served communities.

Dr. Jerome Adams

Dr. Gus Watanabe was clear during an admissions interview with Jerome Adams (MD Class of 2001): He wanted him at IU School of Medicine. “What will it take for you to come here?” asked the esteemed former head of the Department of Medicine. Adams’ response was direct. “Based on my family’s situation, I really need to go where I can receive the most financial aid,” he replied. Adams’ credentials glittered: A 3.97 GPA at the University of Maryland, undergraduate research time with a Nobel Prize winner, and Harvard and Washington University in hot pursuit.

Watanabe’s instincts about Adams were prescient, considering Adams went on to become an anesthesiologist, Indiana Health Commissioner and U.S. Surgeon General. Recruiting Adams, who grew up the son of two modest teachers in Maryland, to IU School of Medicine required making a competitive aid offer. Watanabe floated the possibility of scholarship packages that would cover all of Adams’ costs. “If you offer me that, I’ll sign on the dotted line,” said Adams, who benefited from the Lilly Scholarship while a student at IU School of Medicine.

Today, it crystallizes Adams’ view on the importance of a diversity scholarship at the IU School of Medicine: “You need to understand what the market is providing for those individuals and put a competitive proposal on the table.”

Fundraising Committee Members

Rick Cottrell, MD
Sean E. Gardner, MD
George E. Branam, MD
Rick D. Kiovsky, MD
Ragan Brackett, MD
Toni Austin-Glass, MD
Tina M. Harris, MD

Diversity at IU School of Medicine

At IU School of Medicine, the commitment to diversity includes race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity, religion, socio-economic status, age, geography of origin and residence, sexual orientation, disability, work style and other aspects of human attributes and behaviors. Details about how IU School of Medicine fosters and promotes diversity in the education and working environment is available through the Office of Diversity Affairs.