MD Class of 2018: The first 8 are `Imi Ho`ōla Grads!

The first members of the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) MD Class of 2018 are in the house!

The very first on board are eight young people who completed the `Imi Ho`ōla (“Those who seek to heal”) Post-Baccalaureate Program on June 17. They include college graduates who hail from Hilo, Wai`ane, Waialua, Honolulu, Guam, Pohnpei (of the Federated States of Micronesia) and Luzon (in the Philippines).

About our newest `Imi grads
The `Imi program, in its 41st year, selects applicants from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds or communities, including rural towns in Hawai`i and the Pacific. Those selected have the opportunity to earn admission to the University of Hawai`i medical school through a challenging one-year premed course. They are, from left to right, Jalkennen Joseph, a graduate of Sanchez High School (Guam) and the University of Texas-San Antonio who also served the United States as a US Air Force medic; Matthew Kawahara, an alumnus of Moanalua High School and the University of Hawai`i Mānoa (UHM); Joel Sabugo, who graduated from Waialua High School and UHM; Gabriel Lapid, who completed George Washington High School (Guam) and the University of Guam; Leimomi Kangusuku, from Kamehameha Schools and Stanford University; Arcelita Imasa, a graduate of CCSP Lab High School (Philippines) and UH Hilo; Chad Imanaka, graduate of Waiākea High School and Loyola Marymount University; and Alister Tang, an alumn of Roosevelt High School and UHM.

Leimomi Noel Kanagusuku performs a hula at the completion ceremony.

Leimomi Noel Kanagusuku performs a hula at the completion ceremony.

Graduates of the `Imi program have gone on to earn their JABSOM degrees and achieve great success. Alums include a Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of The Queen’s Medical Center, the Designated Institutional Officer of JABSOM’s Graduate Medical Education, a former Hawai`i Director of Health and many physicians who are helping provide top-notch care to communities throughout Hawai`i.

Gabriel Lapid was joined at the `Imi Completion Ceremony by his family from Guam.

Gabriel Lapid was joined at the `Imi Completion Ceremony by his family from Guam.

About `Imi
“This is a program that is of great value by our school because it allows students whose path to medical school has been nontraditional, who have been sometimes challenged by difficulties getting through coursework and studying while working a job, to be compared as equals during the application process,” said JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges, MD, who himself is a product of a rural upbringing.

`Imi is especially committed to building the workforce of diverse physicians for rural communities in Hawai`i and the Pacific, and its record in that area is outstanding. At least 80% of the doctors trained through the `Imi program are practicing medicine in under-served neighborhoods in Hawai`i where they are needed most, and 40% of them are Native Hawaiians.

“We are especially grateful for the generous financial support we have received over the years from The Queen’s Health Systems to pay the `Imi students stipends which allow them to forgo having to work a job, and to focus full-time on their studies during the program,” said Dr. Winnie Lee, Director of the `Imi Ho`ōla program. Dr. Lee and JABSOM are also grateful to the Hawai`i State Legislature for its support of `Imi and programs of the Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence in the Department of Native Hawaiian Health at the medical school.

They're pictured holding their acceptance letters into JABSOM. (The rest of the class of 66 members arrives on the Kaka`ako campus for Orientation on July 14, 2014.)

They’re pictured holding their acceptance letters into JABSOM. (The rest of the class of 66 members arrives on the Kaka`ako campus for Orientation on July 14, 2014.)

This gift will come in handy for the new medical students! (It's a guide to the first step national licensing exam they will take in 2020).

This gift will come in handy for the new medical students! (It’s a guide to the first step national licensing exam they will take in 2020).

We are so proud of you, `Imi! Let’s hear it for the MD Class of 2018!

Mahalo Chessa DeCambra, for contributing to this report. Ceremony photos by Amanda Shell, UH Med Student Journalist.

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