In the News


Friday February 2, 2011  
Celebrating “Hard Work and Achievement”
Saturday Science II Academy Helps Young People Succeed

A student wearing his white coat met Gus Gil, M.D., the senior advisor to the president and longtime faculty member at Charles Drew University.

LOS ANGELES - They’re old enough to dream, but too young to treat patients—at least for now.

At the 11th Annual Junior White Coat Ceremony recently, more than 215 students from pre-K to 12th grade committed to studying math and health sciences were honored. Enrolled in the Saturday Science Academy II at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, students were applauded for their academic aspirations.

U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles), one of the main speakers during the program, posed with a student .


A student, cloaked in her white coat, shook hands with Richard S. Baker, M.D., provost and dean, College of Medicine at Charles Drew University.

The academy paves a path for exposing young people early in life to careers in the health sciences, said U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles). This helps those, in particular, from nearby, disadvantaged neighborhoods also have a chance to dream of brighter days ahead, she said.

“You are preparing white coats of the future,” she told hundreds of parents, students, teachers and family members gathered at the King/Drew Medical Magnet High School, located next to the university in the Willowbrook-Watts area.

The ceremony resembled a high school graduation. As their names were called, students who attended three consecutive eight-week sessions in the same calendar year were cloaked in a white lab coat. The coats, similar to those worn by doctors and other health professionals, symbolized student accomplishment in the academy.

“We are here to celebrate hard work and achievement,” said Eleby R. Washington III, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon who serves as medical director of the Saturday Science program. Of 112 students who attended the academy from 2000 to 2008, he said that 91% answered a recent survey indicating they were enrolled at a four-year college.

Cultivating their minds for medicine, the students learn about anatomy, dissection and marine science during three-hour sessions on Saturdays. If extra help is needed with school work or a class project, the students can stay an additional two hours for tutoring.

“I thought it was good recognition for all the hard work the kids did,” said Darien Hawkins, hugging his seven-year-old daughter, Amira, after the ceremony ended. “Their white coat might be treated symbolically like a trophy that keeps them pursuing their education in math and science.”

“It’s beautiful,” Lupe Robles said with a smile, after watching a grandson in the fourth-grade participate in the ceremony. “This is the best I’ve ever seen.”

Guests attending the program included: State Sen. Roderick D. Wright (D-Inglewood); Angela Nossett, M.D., chief medical officer, Martin Luther King Multi-Service Ambulatory Care Center; and David Nash, Education and Outreach Liaison for the National Library of Medicine, as well as others from Charles Drew University.

Inspired by the children's presence, many spoke with pride of being there. “This is my favorite white coat ceremony because this one means the most,” said Richard S. Baker, provost and dean, College of Medicine at Charles Drew University.

The students would have fallen short of their goals at the academy without support from home. Parents or guardians, for example, are required to volunteer 15 hours per year in the program if their child is accepted into the academy.

Of the white coat, Dr. Baker said, “It belongs to the whole family.”


Saturday Science Academy II Oath:

“I, as a student of Charles Drew University’s Saturday Science Academy, promise by this oath that I shall treasure what I have learned in this program and continue my quest for higher education.

“Despite the obstacles that I may face in the future, I shall recognize that I have the power to overcome them and become a better person.

“And to show appreciation to those who have taught me, I shall accept the responsibility to teach others and to share my knowledge with everyone. I shall uphold these values to the best of my ability.”

For more information on Saturday Science Academy II, please contact Lorraine Grey, program director, at 323-563-4926 or


For more information, please contact:
Daryl Strickland

Charles Drew University of Medicine & Science
Telephone: (562) 229-4924   


About Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, minority-serving medical and health sciences institution.  Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,500 post-graduate physicians, more than 2,000 physician assistants and hundreds of other health professionals.  The only dually designated Historically Black Graduate Institution and Hispanic Serving Health Professions School in the U.S., CDU is recognized as a leader in translational and health inequities research, specifically with respect to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, mental health, and HIV/AIDS.  Recently, the CDU/UCLA medical program was named the “best performer” in the University of California System with respect to producing outstanding underrepresented minority physicians by the Greenlining Institute.  For more information, visit


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