Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students club seeks to build culturally competent healthcare professionals

Grace Jackson, Staff Reporter

Whitman’s Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students (MAPS) is a tight-knit club for students of minority backgrounds interested in careers in health.

Michelle Shin, sophomore and 2021-22 president of MAPS, said the club aims to help students become culturally competent healthcare professionals and to offer a community environment. 

Michelle Shin is the 2021-2022 president of MAPS. Shin hopes to revitalize the communal aspects of the club next semester. Photo contributed by Michelle Shin.

“Every time we have a meeting I get super excited because I just love everyone in [MAPS],” Shin said. “They all hold a place in my heart because we’re all working towards a big goal together, and that’s really important to me.” 

Shin said that the club meets biweekly and hosts study groups on off weeks. Once a month, the club goes through protocols from the Student National Medical Association on the health care needs of underrepresented communities. 

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Shin said that the club members also frequently socialized together which she hopes to safely reintroduce next year. 

Sophomore Katie Jose, the MAPS community event coordinator, said that the club is for students from disadvantaged minority communities, like students of color, LGBTQ+ and disabled students that are often underrepresented in health professions. She said that MAPS has been like a second family for her at Whitman and that the other students can relate to her specific challenges as a person of color.

Sophomore Katie Jose is the the MAPS community event coordinator. Jose says that the club is a space where students of color and FGWC students who are interested in careers in health can connect. Photo by Michael Lans.

“Especially at a predominantly white institution like Whitman, I feel like a lot of the time, it’s really hard to be in a space — especially in STEM — where a lot of the white students will not understand the experience that [students of color] have because we have different obstacles,” Jose said. “A lot of us are also FGWC students so being able to have a space to connect with people who experience the same things is super valuable and beneficial.” 

Shin and Jose both said that the club is for all minority students interested in careers in health, like nursing and phlebotomy, and not just those on the pre-medical track, or those who plan on becoming doctors. 

“It is the Minority Association for Pre-Medical Students, so the main focus is for pre-med students but recently we’ve been trying to expand our reach to just pre-health students. So for me, I am mostly interested in public health so that is my interest in the club,” Shin said. 

First-year Erik Muro, a member of MAPS, joined the club after taking a class in health professions. Photo by Michael Lans.

First year Erik Muro is considering a career as a physician’s assistant after he graduates from Whitman. He said that he learned about MAPS during his first semester through his Health Professions course. 

“For the time that I’ve been in the club it just feels super welcoming and like a second family that I can lean on,” Muro said.

Muro said that his interest in a career in health comes from a desire to help people and that MAPS has given him resources to help him reach his goals.

The club currently has about 10 members, Shin said, and they hope to grow going forward.

“I want Whitman community members, especially minority students, to know that we’re very open to having them in MAPS if they are interested in a career in health,” Shin said. “We are trying really hard to create a safe space for minority students, so if minority students on campus need a space to get together with other minority students and bond and learn more about how to be a better healthcare professional, then we are definitely here with open arms.”

Michelle Shin is the Production Manager of The Wire.