American Medical Association Foundation awards DREAM MD Equity Scholarships

MAYWOOD, July 23, 2020 – Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine is proud to announce two of its students, Ivonne Beltran and Alyssandra Abrenica, are the first recipients of the American Medical Association Foundation (AMAF)’s new DREAM MD Equity Scholarships. The $10,000 scholarships underwritten by the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund, will be awarded annually to a medical student beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and/or a first-generation immigrant to the United States.

The DREAM MD Equity Scholarship recognizes the unique experiences of DACA-recipient medical students and other first-generation immigrants, and the unique challenges they face in pursuing a career in medicine. Equally important, it acknowledges their unique contributions to society and to the nation’s health.

Growing up, third-year medical student Alyssandra Abrenica was keenly aware of the constant fear and challenges marginalized communities faced. She has used the privilege and platform of Stritch to speak up for others whose health and rights are threatened and provide resources for those that need it most. Abrenica’s hope is to train as an OB-GYN and help women who feel disempowered and vulnerable.

Fourth-year student Ivonne Beltran’s incredible story is one of enormous resilience and a spirit that never abandons hope. Her thoughtful advocacy has extended hope to those without it. Ivonne plans to become a family physician, guiding patients in their journey to overcome barriers created through social determinants of health.

“The creation of the DREAM MD Equity Scholarship provides visionary leadership at an inflection point in our nation’s history,” said Mark Kuczewski, PhD, Director, Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics & Health Policy at Stritch. “We have never needed the talents, skills, and resilience of DACA-recipient med students more than in this uncertain time. This investment in their future is a show of faith in these young people and a beacon of hope to help diversify the medical profession.”

Nearly 30,000 health care workers are DACA recipients, including medical students, residents, and physicians who depend on DACA for their eligibility to practice medicine. They have stood among the frontline heroes during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and are indispensable to the nation’s health system during ordinary times, as well.

“We are proud to add this new DREAM MD Equity Scholarship for DACA medical students to our growing portfolio of annual scholarship opportunities. The AMA Foundation is truly honored to be entrusted by AMA General Counsel Brian Vandenberg to administer this scholarship through the Vandenberg Health Equity Fund which he established with us earlier this year,” said Dr. Jacqueline A. Bello, president of the AMA Foundation.