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The President's Message



This issue highlights the activities our students, faculty, and staff participated in during the course of this month.  From the annual State of the University Address held on October 8th to the farewell celebrations held for three distinguished CDU family members: Ms. Barbara Rowden, MPH, Program Coordinator, Mr. Darnell Pegues, Program Administrator and Dr. Gail Orum, Dean of the College of Science and Health, October was a busy time for us!  At the annual State of the University Address I laid out the current state of the University and our vision towards the future. The event was preceded by a Media Breakfast hosted by the Office of Strategic Advancement and attended by media partners – radio and print – of the University. The written speech and audio version are posted.  You can also view photos.  Kudos to everyone who participated in the success of this event! 

Congratulations to the CDU Student Ambassadors whose presentations were an overwhelming success at the Hispanic Association of College and University Conference(HACU) in Denver, Colorado earlier this month. 

October 10th was a festive filled day on the campus as we came together for the 4th Annual Unity Day Celebration.  Catch the energy as you view these photos. Other University participated or sponsored events included the Great California Shakeout, 9thAnnual Taste of Soul Family Festival, and a University-wide Forum.  Information on these and other events is available in this newsletter and on our website.

This week, I have the very special honor of standing in for my Senior Advisor Dr. Gus Gill to receive his Humanitarian Award bestowed by his alma mater the University of Michigan.  I, along with his wife Mrs. Nelie Gill, will accept the award on Dr. Gill’s behalf.  Please join me in saying congratulations to Dr. Gill by sending him a note.  You may send your message to him at  I will personally see to it that he receives your message.     

I want to end this message by extending appreciation and gratitude to Ms. Barbara Rowden, Mr. Darnell Pegues and Dean Gail Orum.  The three will be leaving the University at the end of October.  While their physical presence may not be visible, each have left an indelible mark on the University. After 14 years of service and 21 years of service to CDU respectively, Ms. Rowden and Mr. Pegues are retiring.  Dean Orum, having spent 23 years at CDU, has accepted a position as Associate Dean for Assessment and Faculty Development, Professor of Clinical and Administrative Sciences at the Keck Graduate Institute School of Pharmacy.  I want to wish them well in their new ventures.  Congratulations to you all and thank you for all you’ve done to advance this university and to fulfill its mission.



David M. Carlisle

      President and CEO, 

     Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science


HACU Presenters from CDU Share Their Experiences

After the students returned from HACU CDU News asked them about their experiences: All five:  Derrick Delgado, Angel Martinez, Revecca Millan, Maria Rosales and Miguel Ruiz responded.

Describe HACU (What it means--why it was so important to go).

The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) is a non-profit organization established in 1986 and is committed to promoting success for Hispanics pursing higher education. Within the United States over 400 higher education institutions are represented. It is the only national education association that represents Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). HACU is actively involved in improving legislation and government support of US institutions, building its members institutional capacity and promoting strategic partnerships. 

Attending HACU was important because it gave us the opportunity to address pursing medicine as a form of higher education. We were also able to address some of the barriers and current issues in education that may be present at the beginning of the educational pipeline. By providing this information to mentors and educational advisors we hope to inspire them to become advocates in support of Latina/o students pursing medicine and science.

HACU run-through presentation


Angel Martinez, Revecca Millán, Miguel Ruiz, Derrick Delgado, Maria Rosales

HACU Presenters


Left to right: Maria Rosales, Angel Martinez, Revecca Millán, Miguel Ruiz, Derrick Delgado

Lunch at HACU with entire team

Left to right:

Top row: Sara Estrada, Derrick Delgado, Maria Rosales, Revecca Millán, Miguel Ruiz

Bottom row: Angel Martinez, Dr. Rita Sawyer, V.P. Angela Minniefield



From left:  Sara Estrada, Maria Rosales, Derrick Delgado, Revecca Millán, Angel Martinez, Miguel Ruiz, Dr. Rita Sawyer

Here's what the student presenters had to say about their experience:

Revecca Millán, CDU Post Baccalaureate Alumna,  UCLA Alumna, Pre-Medicine, B.S. Biology. She was born and raised in Livingston, which is located in Central Valley California.

What did you think about HACU before you received the invitation to go?

" Prior to being invited to assist in writing an abstract to present at HACU I only knew it was an organization committed to assisting Latinos and Latinas pursing higher education. I was unaware of the amazing resources HACU provides such as student programs, internships and scholarships."

How was the experience?

" The experience was extremely rewarding. Growing up I was always a shy individual. To date, I still get nervous when presenting. Being part of this panel gave me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and work on my presentation skills. I was able to grow as a person and share my personal experiences and student perspective with others while at the same time representing CDU. This was also an excellent networking opportunity. We were able to meet other passionate individuals striving to help students pursue higher education."

Would you recommend it?

" I would definitely recommend attending future HACU events. Being either a presenter or attendee gives you the opportunity to learn about ways, support and solutions that may assist in improving the Latino community."

 Who would they thank for the opportunity?

 I would like to thank Sara Estrada, who is our Student Ambassador Advisor at CDU. She invited us to be part of this amazing experience. Additionally, I would like to thank Amin Maghsoodi and Dr. Rita Sawyer. These individuals spent many hours and late evenings assisting us in our presentation. We had several run-throughs prior to the final presentation and thanks to their constructive criticism we were able to have an excellent final product.

I would also like to thank Angela Minniefield and CDU President Dr. David Carlisle for their support throughout this project.  Lastly, I would like to thank our guest video presenters who were willing to share their expertise and personal experiences with us and everyone at HACU, Dr. Efrain Talamantes, Dr. Sonia Morales, Ryan Smith, Dr. Anna Waring, and Dr. Carlisle.

Maria Rosales,  Post-Baccalaureate in Pre-Medicine is from  Compton, CA.  She attended  Pitzer College for undergraduate education.

How was the experience? 

" It was a wonderful experience! Writing the proposal, getting it approved by HACU, and preparing for the presentation took almost half of a year! With my team’s busy schedule, I am glad we were all able to make a great presentation where we shared our personal experiences in our pathway medical school, and, most importantly, where we were able to give our audience the student perspective on what in our education system is needed to build support for Latinos/as in medicine and science. I was a little nervous at first because our audience were professionals in higher education from all over the U.S., but I was glad we were able to connect with them at a personal level through our stories. Most importantly, I am happy that we were able to share with our audience CDU's mission and all the positive impact our school has made in our careers. I certainly did meet and learned from great people."

Would you recommend it?  Of course, I would recommend it to CDU students to take the challenge and present at national conferences like HACU.

 Who would you thank for the opportunity?

  I want to thank Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science for giving me the opportunity to present at HACU. Special thanks to Sara Estrada, Dr. Sawyer, Amin Maghsoodi, Ms. Minniefield, and Dr. Carlisle for their time, guidance, and support they provided us throughout the process of preparing for the presentation.

Also, special thanks to Dr. Ferrini, Dr. Artaza, Dr. Cynthia Gonzalez, and Mrs. Parker-Kelley for their time and feedback they provided us during our presentation rehearsals. Lastly, thank you to our speakers who supported us by allowing us to video record them as part of our presentation.


Miguel A. Ruiz is a  2nd year student in the Post-Bacc Program at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. He grew up in East Los Angeles and attended  UC Santa Cruz for undergraduate education.

How was the experience?

"My experience was excellent! We prepared for weeks in advance gathering data and determined the best manner in which to present it. Based on the feedback we received- It was a success! We captivated our audience and highlighted many challenges Latino students face in the pursuit of an education."

Would you recommend it?

"I highly recommend attending the HACU conference next year. Faculty and staff will gain greater insight to better serve our community."

Who would they thank for the opportunity?

I would like to thank the leadership team at CDU for the support and encouragement they provided. Special thanks to Sara Estrada, Dr. Sawyer, Amin, Ms. Minniefield and Dr. Carlisle and my classmates!


Angel J Martinez is a  2 yr Post Bacc Pre-Med student.  He too was raised in East Los Angeles, and attended  UC Santa Cruz for undergraduate education.

What he thought about HACU before he received the invitation to go?

" I wasn't aware that HACU existed until we were approached by Dean Rita Sawyer to apply to present at the conference. After thumbing through the conference workshops from the year before I realized that there weren’t any presentations that dealt with Latina/o students in Medicine. It made me realize that with the changing dynamics of health care in the U.S. it's important to address the health of the Latino communities through medical education. It was then that the group decided to work on a proposal for the conference."

How was the experience?        

" Curating the presentation was probably one of the most challenging and phenomenal experiences I've been a part of as I was able to work collaboratively with my classmates and learn more about their journey to pursuing medical education. After many long meetings that many times went into the wee hours of the night having the HACU attendees receive our presentation with high regard and applause felt great as I knew that all the hard work had paid off."

Would you recommend it?

" Being able to take part of the HACU conference was a great professional development experience. Having attended many conferences in the past being able to attend a conference as a presenter this time around changes the way in which you can use data and research to create change. I would definitely recommend HACU to everyone as it provides a space to engage issues and identify solutions to improve the Latino community."

Who would they thank for the opportunity?

  I'd first like to give my sincere gratitude to the Admissions Office. Sara (Senior Admissions Counselor) thank you for your advice and mentorship throughout the process. Amin (Director of Admissions) thank you for your feedback and support it made a difference. Dr. Rita Sawyer (Dean of Student Affairs) thank you for your support, mentorship and for your commitment to students. Vice President Minniefield for attending the presentation and the Office of Strategic Advancement at CDU for assisting us in getting to the conference. Most of all I'd like to thank my mentors, family & community for their continual support as I pursue my dreams of becoming a physician.

Lastly I'd like to include, being able to highlight the unique needs of Post Bacc Latina/o students through data and personal testimonial made our presentation unique yet personal. Most importantly, being able to represent CDU at the HACU conference as first time presenters is an unforgettable experience. We look forward to sharing the presentation with the larger CDU community in coming weeks.


Derrick Delgado is a   2nd year student in the COSH-Postbac Certificate Program in Pre-Medicine.  He is from Ontario, CA, and attended  NYU for undergraduate education. 

How was the experience?

"The experience was amazing! Seeing a tremendous amount of people from all over the country come together for a singular focused theme is extraordinary. I was a little nervous right as we sat down for the presentation, but that quickly dissipated as we got started. There were some truly impressive higher education administrators in attendance. They had some inspiring stories of their own and it was great to receive their feedback and encouragement.

Would you recommend it?

 I would highly recommend attending to everyone. It is a great experience with so much information and insight to gain. Presenting there would be even better. It is a truly rewarding experience to see the reaction to all of the hard work put into the presentation.

Who would they thank for the opportunity?

I would like to thank everyone who could attend our practice run-throughs. It may have been a bit rough, but the feedback was essential to improving our talking points and chosen slides. I would also like to thank Sara Estrada, Dr. Rita Sawyer, and Amin Maghsoodi. Their countless hours dedicated to aiding and supporting us through each step of the way, big and small, made this possible. Of course having support of all the administration here at Charles Drew University was greatly appreciated and encouraging. Lastly, I'd like to thank my fellow presenters. Their endless sacrifice and commitment and working around schedules proved their dedication and understanding of the importance of this topic. It was truly a collaborative process with all 5 of us contributing great points."

Winners of our Twitter $200 Book Voucher Contest

This is the email three proactive students who signed up for CDU's Twitter @cdrewu received today from Dr. Rita Sawyer, Assistant Provost of Student Services:

Dear Valued Student,

Thank you to all new students who participated in the contest to win a $200 CDU textbook voucher. Contest announcements were included in Discover CDU new student orientation materials. To enter the contest, new students were invited to follow and tweet @cdrewu with a picture of their favorite spot on campus.

The winner of the 1st  $200 CDU textbook voucher is Ms.  Paola Lepe

 Paola Lepe is a Post-Baccalaureate student – Pre Medicine—in the College of Science and Health.


 The winner of the 2nd $200 CDU textbook voucher is Ms. Angela Vallillo


Angela Vallillo is also a Post Baccalaureate Student – Pre Medicine – in the College of Science and Health.

 The winner of the 3rd $200 CDU textbook voucher is Mr. Joshua Charles

Joshua Charles is an undergraduate student in Life Sciences program.

 Please remember to follow us on Twitter and join the conversation . . . What’s the best class to take? Where’s the best study place on campus? Tweet insider tips to the incoming class with #newtocdu.

  Twitter:  @cdrewu

Facebook: Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

 Congratulations again to our winners!  You will be contacted shortly to arrange pick up of your vouchers.

 All students, staff and faculty can participate in future events by following CDU on social media. Be sure to follow us on:  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. We have other promotions in the works!

 Let’s make this a beautiful day.  See you on social media!

 Rita Gloria Sawyer, PhD | Assistant Provost of Student Services

Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science

1731 East 120th Street
Los Angeles, CA  90059
T:  323.563.4922 /  F: 323.563.4837
Designated as a Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School

Alumnus Ashanti Fisher recognized for exceptional contributions to health education in SPA 5 and SPA 6

This year, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health held its 4th Annual Health Education Practice Conference in which it commemorated National Public Health Education Week by showcasing effective health education practice throughout Los Angeles County and recognizing service provided by the Los Angeles County health education workforce. The event took place on Tuesday, October 21st at the California Endowment in Los Angeles. Ashanti Fisher, recent grad and alum of the Master’s in Public Health Program and also the Medical Student Affairs Coordinator for the Charles Drew/UCLA Medical Education Program, was the recipient of the 2014 Health Education Internship/Volunteer Award.  Her overwhelming enthusiasm and devotion to working in underserved communities such as Spa 5 and Spa 6 were key elements in her recognition.

This year’s conference theme, Expanding Our Scope of Practice:  The Many Faces of Health Education only begins to shed light on Ashanti’s commitment to improving the health outcomes of those in underserved communities. It was during her public health internship at Martin Luther King Center for Public Health that she not only developed a curriculum about health inequity and the social determinants of health, but also implemented a game to demonstrate these concepts, thus allowing them to be more practical to those in the community.  Impressed by her work, LA County Department of Public Health has adopted Ashanti’s game, The Last Straw, into their health education program.  Additionally, Ashanti demonstrated leadership on her campus by working tirelessly with the LA County Department of Public Health during National Public Week where Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas’ Empowerment Congress Health Committee partnered with CDU’s MPHSA for a dialogue about food deserts, areas where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain.

 When asked to comment on her recent accomplishment, Ashanti stated, “I am humbled by the experience because I wanted to show that CDU students are not only excellent scholars, but are also agents of change in our communities.” Ashanti would like to thank her preceptor, Ms. Nicole Vick, for nominating her for the award and allowing her to be creative.  She is also thankful to Dr. Fred Dominguez, Practicum Coordinator, Dr. Sondos Islam, Program Director, Dr. Gail Orum, Dean of the College of Science, Ms. Claudia Corleto, Administrative Assistant extraordinaire, and her supervisors, Mr. Joseph Corrao and Dr. Daphne Calmes. In the near future, Ashanti looks forward to marrying the love of her life and pursuing a Doctorate of Public Health afterwards.

Return to the October Newsletter


Hispanic Heritage Month