Published February 22, 2017
Dean Salem, a son of immigrant parents and the first in his family to attend college, has been awarded a Catholic Health System/Western New York Medical Scholarship.
Salem, a first-year medical student in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, has lived a life of firsts: He is also the first in a family of five children and the first in his family to study medicine.
Salem’s parents immigrated to the United States from Yemen, where they had grown up in a village farming community.
“They came here in the hope of providing a better life for their children, and I think they have succeeded,” says Salem, adding that he earned his bachelor’s degree in medical technology from UB in 2014 for himself and for his family.
“When I graduated, I felt as if I had lifted up my entire family with me,” he says. “My experience at UB demonstrated to my younger siblings the opportunities that college brings.”
Before enrolling in the UB medical school, Salem landed his first full-time job as a medical technologist at Catholic Health’s Sisters of Charity Hospital, where he also was a volunteer.
Salem is very grateful to Catholic Health and the scholarship program for giving him this opportunity.
“Medical school is stressful enough without having to think about the debt that you are incurring while you attend,” he says. “This scholarship allows me to focus singularly on my education rather than on financial constraints, and I believe that I will be a better physician for it. It truly is a weight lifted off of my shoulders.”
“The University at Buffalo is where my interest in science was fostered,” he adds, “and I am happy to be able to continue my education in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.”
The Western New York Medical Scholarship program provides four-year scholarships to local students to attend the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. The goal is to train and retain more doctors in the eight counties of Western New York, stemming a steady decline in the number of physicians who practice there.
Scholarship recipients are awarded about $30,000 annually, and they must pledge to practice in Western New York for five years upon finishing medical school and resident training.
The highly selective criteria require recipients to have excelled academically, to have graduated from a high school in the eight-county region of Western New York and to have demonstrated financial need.
In contributing to the scholarship fund, Catholic Health is looking specifically to support a local medical student who has ties to Catholic Health, either as an associate or family member of an associate, and who is willing to affiliate with the health system for the commitment period following their residency training, says president and chief executive officer Joseph McDonald.
Salem’s award is the first of three scholarships that Catholic Health has committed to fund over the next 12 years, for a total pledged commitment of $384,000 to support UB medical students and the local medical community.
“Catholic Health is committed to investing in the professional development of our associates and proud to be part of this innovative scholarship program at UB that supports our efforts,” McDonald says.