Two fourth-year students at the University of Minnesota Medical School are one step closer to earning their medical degrees.

In late September, the Minnesota Chapter of the National Medical Association, in partnership with the Minnesota Association of African-American Physicians, awarded Danielle Brewer and Lauren Nichols with academic scholarships.

“It was humbling to have received this scholarship, and I am very appreciative of the work these organizations are doing to recognize and support African American people in medicine,” Brewer said. “I hope that I am able to honor the legacy of Dr. Rodney Wayne England, for whom my scholarship was named. I am also motivated to continue to create opportunities for other students and future physicians like me.”

The duo has similar backgrounds and interests, including their involvement in the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) where Nichols has served as treasurer of the regional chapter for the last two years and Brewer has served as the high school chair of the U of M chapter of SNMA. Both have built an extensive track record of leadership and volunteer opportunities prior to and during medical school, but their similarities also involve the future—both plan to pursue a career in pediatrics.

“I always looked up to my pediatrician growing up, and I wanted to be just like her,” Brewer said. “As I got older, I learned more about the healthcare system, disparities in health and healthcare that negatively impacts people of color. I decided I wanted to tackle those disparities and do my part to make the system a better place for everyone to receive equitable care.”

Nichols added, “Minnesota is my home. I witnessed at an early age the power that physicians have in their community and their ability to advocate for those without a voice. I recognized that I had the drive and capacity to make much needed changes in my own community, especially in service of underrepresented groups, and I knew that it all started with medicine.”

The pair will graduate in May 2020, and soon after, hope to start a residency in pediatrics.