Inclusive student organization achieves nonprofit status

BaselineMed provides BIPOC high school and college students with a supportive online community of resources and connections, encouraging them to enter the medical field.

baselineMed studentsCourtesy of Mike Lovett

Fatim Kragbe '23, Emma Ghalili '22, Jonathan Joasil '22, Leah Naraine '22

When Emma Ghalili '22 began reading online resources for prospective medical students, she found everything seemed to be written by white men.

“If I feel left out of the narrative as a white woman, I couldn’t even imagine how my peers who are students of color felt,” she said. “I thought, ‘why do I have to wait until I’m a doctor to make a difference?’”

Ghalili, a double major in health: science, society, and policy and biology, realized that if there were educational resources with representation from diverse authors in the community, more students of color would feel supported enough to pursue a career in medicine. This inspired the creation of BaselineMed.

BaselineMed is an organization that provides BIPOC high school and college students with a supportive online community of resources and connections. In addition to virtual workshops held throughout the year, students can visit the website to read articles from the perspective of premed students and professionals in their respective fields.

Ghalili first got the idea for such a resource in June 2020. She wasn’t sure where to start, but knew who would.

She reached out to Lucas Malo, director of community service, to help her map a plan for the organization. Malo assisted her with the important details for the organization.

“I was able to bounce my ideas off him and get his input,” she said. They two spent months meeting on zoom, discussing social media presence, website development, and ways to impact the local community. Malo also connected Ghalili with Brandeis alumni who had established their own nonprofits, giving her resources on and off campus. “Lucas was really helpful in getting the process started,” said Ghalili.

Ghalili acted quickly, forming a team of Brandeis students that would provide diverse perspectives for the initiative. She wanted the board to illustrate diversity and inclusion, the founding inspiration for the project.

The initial board includes Ghalili as the executive director, Leah Naraine ’22 as associate director, Jonathan Joasil ’22 as director of physician outreach, Fatim Kragbe ’23 as director for undergraduate writers, and Joli Vadil of Stony Brook University as director of community outreach.

Each member is not only a double major in biology and health: science, society, and policy, but also a student of color from New York. “I reached out to Leah and Jonathan because I knew they were advocates for change,” said Ghalili.

The team members take tremendous pride in their responsibilities and the mission of the initiative. 

“I grew up in a community of Caribbean and Latinx folks. I was lucky enough to have my mother as a nurse and role model, but I didn’t feel like other members of my community saw that representation,” said Joasil.

The team divides the responsibilities of sharing new content and maintaining the website. Joasil is responsible for maintaining contact with the six physicians who write regularly for BaselineMed. He keeps a structured schedule, editing and sharing one piece from each physician every few months.

BaselineMed also has a diverse staff of undergraduate premedical writers, most of them attending Brandeis. The students write a range of stories for the website, including topics on women in STEM, work-life balance, and the pandemic’s impact on the industry. Kragbe is the director of undergraduate writers, assuring articles are edited and posted in a timely manner.

“As a Black woman at a private university and my mom working everyday as a nurse, I’ve realized how important it is for me to help form a diverse community,” said Kragbe.

In addition to creating online resources for students in all stages of their medical education, BaselineMed also provides diverse communities with educational workshops. The goal of these workshops is to provide secondary students with the tools needed to confidently pursue a college education in medicine. 

“Most of the time students of color will feel like the most doubted person in the room. We’re working to change that,” said Naraine.

The team received a grant from the Rich/Collins Community and Impact Fellowship to begin hosting workshops in their home state, New York.

Their first series of virtual workshops was hosted in the spring of 2021 at Queens Gateway to Health Sciences Secondary School, Naraine’s high school in her hometown.

The workshops included topics like how to be organized in college, scheduling classes, and meeting with a college professor.

As of November, BaselineMed received nonprofit status in the state of New York, a huge accomplishment for the organization. However, this is just the beginning for BaselineMed. 

“Inspiring more students of color to become doctors will also improve the care for diverse populations” said Joasil. “When patients have a doctor from a similar background, they feel a sense of comfort and receive more personalized care.”

The team plans to expand the website in the new year by including articles from students enrolled in medical programs throughout the country.

“We are showing students of color that there are people who look like us in the medical field. I feel honored to be a part of spearheading that change for the next generation,” said Kragbe.

Categories: General, Science and Technology, Student Life

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