Public 4-Year Schools

Rutgers: Increasing Diversity In Healthcare


2016 ODASIS Graduation and Awards Ceremony

Earlier this year, the 2016 ODASIS Graduation and Awards Ceremony was held in celebration of 30 years of the continued effort to cultivate the success of students and improve diversity in the workforce. The President of Rutgers University, Dr. Robert Barchi spoke at the event stating, “ODASIS goes to the heart of our mission as the State University of New Jersey. In the past few years, ODASIS has tripled the number of graduates going to professional schools and diversified health professions to reflect the faces of those they serve.”

Other keynote speakers included Dr. Kenneth Breslauer, Dean of the Division of Life Sciences; Dr. Sherine Gabriel, Dean of Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; Dr. Marc Nivet, Chief Diversity Officer for the American Association of Medical Colleges; Dr. Ronniel Mercado, Co-Founder and Vice President of Pioneer Medical Group; and Dr. Karen Stubaus, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Administration. Several individuals received special recognition during the ceremony for their exceptional contribution to ODASIS: Dr. Michael Beals, Vice Dean for Undergraduate Education, received the ODASIS Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to the provision of academic support for undergraduate students; Dr. Didier Demesmin, Medical Director of University Pain Medicine Center, was presented the ODASIS Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award; and Chris Sharma, who has devoted many years to providing instruction in Organic Chemistry for ODASIS, was recognized with the ODASIS Outstanding Achievement Award.

For more stories about Rutgers, scroll down:

iJOBS Program Prepares Biomedical Scientists For A Range Of Careers In Five Professional Tracks
Rutgers Camden Named Purple Heart University
Research Center Receives National Science Foundation Grant To Study Causes Of Concentrated Poverty
Libraries Receive Grant To Digitize Important Historical New Jersey Newspapers

Dr. Ronniel Mercado’s first interaction with Dr. Khan didn’t exactly go as he expected it would. In the fall of 1997, Ronniel, then a freshman, cut a long line of students waiting to see the Director of ODASIS, a man Ronniel had heard he must see if he was serious about becoming a doctor. When Ronniel first went to see him, he was hoping Dr. Khan would be able to sign off on his scholarship from Coca-Cola. When he presented Dr. Khan with the scholarship form, Ronniel jokes, “Dr. Khan basically kicked me out of his office and told me to come back when I had a 3.5 GPA or higher.” The following semester, Ronniel earned a 3.8 GPA and was back in Dr. Khan’s office. After signing the form, Dr. Khan looked at Ronniel and said, “Welcome to ODASIS.” Little did Ronniel know that this would be the beginning of one of the most influential experiences in his college career.

It wasn’t just the tutoring from ODASIS, but rather the support and guidance from his ODASIS peers and advisors that helped Ronniel most. Ronniel teases, “Dr. Khan was like a drill sergeant” in his unconventional ways, but they worked. Ronniel’s ODASIS peers and mentors eventually became his family at Rutgers. “We were constantly studying together,” he explains, “and we made it fun.” As the courses became harder and as he and his peers began to take on more challenges, Ronniel knew that everyone not only wanted to do well in their own classes, but they also wanted to see each other succeed.

Today, Dr. Ronniel Mercado is a Co-Founder and Vice President of Pioneer Medical Group, a Florida-based hospitalist group that ensures patients are treated with compassion. Six months ago, the company started a community service initiative with medical students from the University of South Florida. Each month, a doctor from Pioneer Medical Group accompanies medical students to the downtown area of Tampa to serve the poor and homeless by providing food, shelter, physical exams, and medicine. Dr. Mercado is humbled to be able to help others in Florida after serving in the New Jersey area for so long. He was recognized for his dedication to helping others, compassionate nature, clinical skills, and respect for nurses in 2012 when he was named as the Florida Hospital Zephyrhills Doctor of the Year.

Although he now resides in Florida, Dr. Mercado isn’t done giving back to the New Jersey community. At the 2016 ODASIS Graduation and Awards Ceremony, he announced his generous $10,000 donation to create the Mercado-Khan scholarship. He hopes that the scholarship will grow in the future to benefit more pre-med students whose college experiences were forever changed when they heard the words: “Welcome to ODASIS.”

This summer, ODASIS welcomed 38 new students to the program, as part of the 2016 Summer Preparatory Program. This intensive five-week, two-credit preparatory program is designed to prepare incoming freshmen for Chemistry I, Calculus I, and Expository Writing. Additionally, the students attended various motivational and informational workshops and visited Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Temple University Medical School. Throughout the five-weeks, the students lived on Busch campus in the Nicholls Apartments. Funding for this program is provided by Merk and Co. as well as the Rutgers New Brunswick Strategic Plan.

“These classes not only taught me the material I would be exposed to in the fall, but also better study habits.”- Bintia Sakho “My life has changed over these five weeks and I feel as though I couldn’t have a stronger foundation for starting in the fall semester.” – Alec Rosati “For someone who was the first in their family to take the SATs, let alone go to college, ODASIS has been my salvation” – Claudia Torres “I learned so much more about myself and my capabilities. I have become much more confident in myself” – Rachael Ogbanna “Apart from the materials and information I got from this program, my favorite part would be the people. This ODASIS family kept me sane throughout the five weeks.” – Zali Kamara

Rutgers University iJOBS Program Prepares Biomedical Scientists For A Range Of Careers In Five Professional Tracks

Rutgers University iJOBS Program Prepares Biomedical Scientists For A Range of Careers In Five Professional Tracks

The Rutgers University iJOBS Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health, prepares biomedical scientists for a range of careers in five professional tracks: i) science and health policy, ii) business management, iii) intellectual property management, iv) clinical and regulatory sciences, and v) health and science data analysis. The program is designed to complement time spent outside of lab and to maintain research as the primary trainee focus, while offering programming to broaden trainee’s perspectives, experiences and knowledge to facilitate pursuit of non-academic careers. Elements include core professional skills training, site visits to partnering companies, didactic courses relevant to the five career tracks, shadowing experiences and career placement support. Click to learn more about iJOBS.


Rutgers University Purple Hearts

Rutgers University Purple Hearts

Rutgers Camden Named Purple Heart University

Further strengthening its reputation as a national leader in student veteran support services, Rutgers University–Camden has been named a Purple Heart University by the Military Order of the Purple Heart – the first higher education institution in the state of New Jersey to earn the distinction.

The award recognizes Rutgers–Camden as emblematic of the organization’s primary goal to provide services to veterans and their families.

“We are so amazed with the comprehensive list of support services for student veterans and, most importantly, how student veterans themselves speak about Rutgers–Camden,” says Joseph Belardo, New Jersey state commander for the Military Order of the Purple Heart and a U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War. “It is so apparent that student veterans at Rutgers–Camden have an overflowing joy in attending the university.”

Rutgers–Camden’s Office of Veterans Affairs will receive an official proclamation and plaque recognizing its designation – which is now effective – and raise a Purple Heart flag during a special ceremony on Wednesday, Nov. 9, as part of the campus’s annual Veterans Day luncheon.

“We are truly honored to receive this recognition, which is indicative of Rutgers–Camden’s forward motion in providing additional services to our men and women,” says Fred Davis, director of the Office of Veterans Affairs at Rutgers University–Camden. “We will continue providing outstanding support for our veterans and military personnel.”

As Belardo explains, when veterans come out of the military, they often don’t know where or how to begin taking advantage of the educational benefits to which they are entitled. Rutgers University–Camden is at the forefront of helping them take that first step.

“From day one, Rutgers–Camden has a staff dedicated to making them feel comfortable,” says Belardo. “This alone goes a long way in taking away the mental stress that many veterans experience when trying to begin this process.”

From the first phone call or office visit, explains Davis, he becomes student veterans’ point of contact, helping them to navigate the process and ensure that they are in compliance with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs requirements for educational benefits.

Rutgers University–Camden – which has also been recognized as a Military Friendly School by Victory Media, publisher of G.I. Jobs magazine, for the past six years – has taken several successful measures to help student veterans make a smooth transition from the military to academic life. Every fall, during traditional Welcome Week festivities, the campus hosts a breakout orientation program tailored for new student veterans.

The campus also utilizes the Veteran Cert portal system, enabling student veterans in any location to upload documents, which are accessible to all appropriate personnel.

To further accommodate veterans, Rutgers–Camden opened the student veterans lounge, located on the ground floor of the Campus Center, in 2009. The space has become a popular gathering spot for student veterans to study, talk, and share a sense of camaraderie.

In addition, Rutgers–Camden established a Veterans Emergency Fund, which enables student veterans in dire circumstances to take a temporary loan and repay it on a monthly basis using their V.A. benefits.

Rutgers–Camden’s veterans affairs office has also been a major proponent of the student veterans group at Rutgers–Camden and its goal of encouraging student veteran participation in various clubs and activities on campus. In addition, the office runs a series of field trips, focusing on American and/or military history, which are open to all students.

For more information about veterans services at Rutgers University–Camden, visit

October 13, 2011 / Shown: Paul Jargowsky / Rutgers Camden Faculty and Staff portraits / Photo by Bob Laramie

October 13, 2011 / Shown: Paul Jargowsky / Rutgers Camden Faculty and Staff portraits / Photo by Bob Laramie

Research Center Receives National Science Foundation Grant To Study Causes Of Concentrated Poverty

In summer 2013, a groundbreaking report by the Center for Urban Research and Education (CURE) at Rutgers University–Camden and The Century Foundation revealed that concentrated poverty has increased by 50 percent since 2000, and more than 11 million Americans now reside in neighborhoods where at least two in every five households live below the poverty line.

WhileThe Architecture of Segregation alarmed scholars and policymakers alike, little research has attempted to determine the root causes of this concentrated poverty – that is, until now.

Thanks to a $218,378 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Geography Spatial Sciences Program, scholars from the Rutgers research center and George Mason University will examine the determinants of the concentratin of poverty – the extent to which the poor are isolated in high-poverty neighborhoods – with an emphasis on the role of public policies that shape metropolitan growth and development.o

“Many researchers agree that low-income and minority groups have been excluded from newer, growing suburbs, which has led to the segregation of these populations. However, we’ve never had concrete evidence showing the contributing factors of this segregation,” says Paul Jargowsky, CURE director and a professor of public policy at Rutgers–Camden, who is conducting the study with Katrin Anacker, an associate professor of public policy at George Mason University, and Chris Wheeler, a Ph.D. candidate in public affairs at Rutgers–Camden.

The researchers will use a longitudinal database of metropolitan areas in the United States – nearly 400 in all – to analyze changes in income distribution versus changes in spatial organization of households by race, ethnicity, and income.

Using cutting-edge geospatial analysis, they will investigate the resulting patterns of housing construction, driven by exclusionary housing and other land-use controls, and relate these patterns in space and time to the movements of populations, explains Jargowsky.


Katrin Anacker

“In analyzing the differences between metropolitan areas, we hope to show that, depending on how segregated housing construction has been, it has resulted in more or less racial segregation and concentrated poverty,” says the Rutgers–Camden researcher, who has been named a fellow at the Center for Advanced Social and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Jargowsky notes that the study is a considerable undertaking due to the fact that the researchers are not looking at one single metric. Rather, they have to decide what factors to look for in the housing stock, which are different for each metropolitan area, and determine ways to characterize the spatial arrangements of housing and how they have changed over time.

“It’s a difficult project, which is one of the reasons that no one has ever done this before,” he says. “However, if we can put a more concrete number on the extent to which public policies are actually creating the problems that we face, then it will help to change these counterproductive policies.

According to Jargowsky, the study is especially critical given the mounting evidence showing the dramatic, negative impacts of concentrated poverty on a number of socioeconomic factors, such as employment, healthcare, education, and crime. These factors then create a cyclical effect, contributing back to even more poverty.

“If you have a certain amount of poverty in the country, that is bad in itself,” he says. “But if you take that poverty and concentrate it, it makes all of the problems of poverty even worse.”

rutgers_5Rutgers University Libraries Receive Grant To Digitize Important Historical New Jersey Newspapers

With $186,204 grant New Jersey becomes the 44th state to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program, supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities

The New Jersey Digital Newspaper Project is a collaboration of Rutgers University Libraries, the New Jersey State Archives and the New Jersey State Library that will make the history of New Jersey known to its citizens and the world. The plan, according to project director and Rutgers University digital archivist Caryn Radick, is to scan existing microfilm from the New Jersey State Archives and to make searchable digital files available through the Library of Congress website Chronicling America. Over a two-year period, the project will digitize and catalog at least 100,000 newspaper pages, originally published between 1836 and 1922 and not currently available in digital format.

“Our goals are ambitious,” explains Radick. “We are meeting with the advisory board in September to identify the newspapers that are in greatest need of digitization and hope to have the first batch, encompassing about 25,000 pages, completed by October 2017. We will focus on influential newspapers and historically important news or themes to maximize the benefit to users of Chronicling America.”

Newspapers may have been slow to gain a foothold in the colony – New Jersey was the last of the original thirteen colonies to publish its own newspapers – but when they finally appeared they were as energetic as the colony itself, which became a state of many newsworthy “firsts.” In its Constitution of 1776, New Jersey was the first state to prohibit discrimination. The state became a leader in technology and invention, from the first commercially manufactured lightbulb to the telegraph to the drugs streptomycin and tetracycline. New Jersey has also seen its share of unrest with the bitter strikes of the early 20th century, such as the 1913 Paterson silk strike.

New Jersey’s unique contributions to culture, politics, innovation and society are built into the historical fabric of the United States and digital access to this newspaper heritage is critical to an understanding of the sometimes painful, but always exhilarating growth of the nation. Ron Becker, head of special collections and university archives at Rutgers University Libraries, predicts this material will have a significant impact on new scholarship.

“From the Whig Papers to The Star-Ledger, New Jersey has a strong tradition of journalism. Prior to this digitization project, historians would travel to the New Jersey State Archives in Trenton or to a similar research institution and scroll through microfilm to find what they need. Having this material at their fingertips in a searchable, digital format will be tremendously beneficial to those who study and write about the history of New Jersey.”

Prior to receiving this grant, New Jersey was one of only eleven states whose newspapers were not included in Chronicling America. Other new state recipients for 2016 include Alaska (Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums), Colorado (Colorado Historical Society) and Maine (Maine State Library).

“Rutgers University Libraries is incredibly proud to participate in the National Digital Newspaper Program and to make the state’s historical media available to anyone, anywhere in the world,” said Krisellen Maloney, vice president for information services and university librarian at Rutgers University. “Caryn Radick and her colleagues are to be commended for bringing this home for Rutgers and for the state of New Jersey.”

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