Calling All ‘First-Gen’ Physicians

Annette Kaminaka, left, and Alyssa Galloway

FGLIMed Student Group Recruiting Mentors for Class of 2025

Annette Kaminaka, ’24, the incoming president of Albany Medical College’s First Generation/Low Income Medical Student Group (FGLIMed), and Alyssa Galloway, ’24, the group’s mentorship chair, are both the first members of their families to attend college and, more recently, medical school. And while they are regularly visited by feelings of satisfaction and excitement as they embark on their careers as physicians, there have been occasional moments of feeling overwhelmed and alienated, too.

“I went to a small high school in Hawaii,” Kaminaka said, “and then I went to NYU as an undergrad. Talk about a transition. It was really hard to adjust at first.”

Galloway, who is from Mohegan Lake, N.Y., said she entered UAlbany as a biology major with hopes of becoming a doctor, “but I really had no clue,” she said. “I didn’t even know what the MCAT was.”

When the two arrived at Albany Medical College last year, they were grateful for FGLIMed (“we call it FLI-Med,” Kaminaka said), which connects first generation and low-income medical students to the Albany Med community through outreach programs and other events.

“They hosted a ‘Med School 101’ program that gave us a layout of what the next four years will entail, what the major milestones are, and what we need to prepare for,” Galloway said. “It was great.”

FGLIMed also paired them with mentors. Galloway was matched with pediatric hospitalist Patricia Hopkins-Braddock, MD, ’98, and Kaminaka with otolaryngologist Neil Gildener-Leapman, MD, ’07.

“It’s been really helpful having that touchstone,” Kaminaka said, “especially during Covid. In medicine, these kinds of connections are so important.”

Inspired by the support they received, they and the FGLIMed executive board are looking forward to welcoming all interested members of the Class of 2025 to the group and enhancing the mentorship dynamic that will be offered in the process.

“We’re aiming to create ‘mentorship families,’” Kaminaka explained. “We’d like to pair a doctor or a resident to a second-year student and also bring a first-year student into the fold, which will help enhance the level of support that new student will be able to receive.”

FGLIMed is seeking physician and resident mentors who come from first-generation or economically disadvantaged backgrounds themselves. Anyone interested is encouraged to reach out to mentorship chair Alyssa Galloway at [email protected]. And the door is open to others who are interested in learning about FGLIMed, as well. “We are planning network events that we hope will have a broad appeal, so all are welcome to get in touch with us,” Galloway said.