Monique Chambers, a third-year medical student at UC Davis School of Medicine, is one of five students nationwide receiving a $5,000 Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarship today (Nov. 7) at the annual meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges in Denver, Colo. The medical-student scholarships recognize efforts to address inequity in medical education and health care.
"Ms. Chambers is an outstanding student and natural leader who has taken initiative at every turn of her academic career to help increase diversity and opportunity within and beyond our school," said Darin Latimore, assistant dean for student and resident diversity at UC Davis Health System. "Her tireless efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and in health care, especially for underserved populations, have impressed both faculty and fellow students. She exemplifies UC Davis' institutional commitment to combining academic excellence with social responsibility and leadership to transform health care."
Chambers joined UC Davis in 2009 after graduating from the University of La Verne Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in biology and minor in movement and sports science. In her first years at the School of Medicine, she became chapter president of the Student National Medical Association, instituting a new course, a series of educational workshops and a National Leadership Institute forum focused on reducing health disparities in minority populations.
As co-director of the Imani Clinic, a community clinic serving the largely African-American and Latino populations of the Oak Park neighborhood, she provided basic health and preventive care to patients along with a staff of undergraduate and medical-student volunteers with supervision of preceptor physicians. As a student coordinator for the Sacramento Community Cancer Coalition, a group that works closely with the clinic to increase awareness of cancer screenings, she visited churches, women's groups, youth centers and other institutions within the black community to encourage greater participation in screening programs.
Chambers' earliest years were spent in a low-income neighborhood in Los Angeles living with her single-parent father. As they didn't have health insurance, the family went to county clinics, where they would wait for up to 18 hours for just minutes with a physician. It was at these clinics that her favorite aunt was routinely advised to get a mastectomy to treat her breast cancer without the benefit of being offered less-radical options. These formative experiences motivated Chambers to take a stand for people who do not have access to quality, culturally relevant health care. This spirit also moved her to organize and participate in School of Medicine student-recruitment efforts, with an emphasis on attracting applicants from disadvantaged communities. She volunteers as a member of the School of Medicine's Diversity Council, which advocates for minority students and organizes events in collaboration with the Minority Association of Premedical Students.
A former track and field athlete, Chambers has a broad range of interests, including orthopaedics research. As a United Negro College Fund Special Programs intern in 2007, she was based at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., and conducted basic research using oyster toadfish to assess the impacts of space flight on the skeletal system. She also participated in clinical trials to assess the failure rate of an orthopaedic device.
Chambers has received many honors in recognition of her academic excellence and achievements in the medical sciences and health care. These include the Sinkler Miller Medical Association Award, the Ella Mae Simmons Scholarship from the Kaiser Permanente African-American Physician's Association, the University of La Verne Excellence in Biology Award, the NASA Science & Technology 2007 Leadership Award and the UC Davis Chancellor's Scholar in 2009-10. She is a member of the Alpha Chi National Honor Society and was on the University of La Verne Dean's List from 2004-08.