Celebrating Black History Month: A Look at Albany Medical College’s First African American Graduates

Dr. Ann Als took what most would consider a non-traditional route to medical school in the late 60s. Older, and with more responsibilities at home than many of her peers, the married mother began her premedical studies at Boston University at the age of 25. She persevered through multiple rejections to medical school due to her age and became the first African American female to graduate from Albany Medical College in 1970.

“My contention was, it’s never too late to do something you want to do,” she said in a 1988 interview with Lear’s Magazine, “You have only one life.”

Dr. Als fulfilled her goals, going on to become a highly regarded member of the Harvard Medical School Faculty, and later playing a significant role in the development of research protocols to test the safety and efficacy of various drugs.

During National Black History Month, Albany Medical College celebrates Dr. Als for blazing the trail for fellow female and minority students to apply to medical school.