Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students offers support and community


Photo courtesy of Grace Doakes

The MAPS executive board organizes events throughout the quarter for members. The club aims to create a supportive environment for minority students on the pre-medical track.

Kaavya Butaney, Assistant Campus Editor

When Weinberg senior Grace Doakes arrived at Northwestern in 2019, she found few other minority pre-medicine students. 

Then, she joined the Minority Association of Pre-Medical Students.

Doakes, who is the current president of MAPS, said the pre-med track can be intense both  academically and mentally, and some students often feel isolated during the process.

But MAPS aims to create a safe, helpful environment that inspires students to keep going, she said. Doakes added that ethnic representation in healthcare practitioners is key for helping patients, which is what the club truly works towards.

MAPS, which was founded at NU in 1989 and has 250 chapters nationwide, is the pre-medical offshoot of the Student National Medical Association, which supports underrepresented minorities in medical school. The NU chapter has around 300 members, according to Doakes.

Doakes and MAPS Vice President Brandon Ozobu find that upperclassmen support is a highlight of the club.

“When I was a freshman, I came in nervous and afraid of messing up,” Ozobu, a Weinberg junior, said. “But, I think the upperclassmen from MAPS had the foresight and the knowledge to make me calm down and slow down and understand that everything will be fine.”

Doakes said the club helped her get started in research and that students also receive support on a smaller scale, such as with shared study tools.

MAPS hosts philanthropic and social events each quarter, in addition to collaborations with the Feinberg SNMA chapter.

Members of the club went to the Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago earlier this month to discuss medical school applications. They also asked anonymous questions to the Dean of Admissions, which Ozobu called “monumental.”

“People can also motivate you to continue doing (the club) because you remember when you were in that place,” Doakes said. “Simultaneously those people who are in the place that you previously were can see you as motivation.”

For some members, the social events are a source of community in addition to being a space of academic expertise.

Weinberg sophomore and MAPS social chair Zoey Hall said she enjoys having a fun, social group of pre-meds.

The club is advised by Weinberg assistant dean for academic standing Constance Wright, who is the organization’s “cheerleader,” according to Ozobu.

Wright wrote in an email to The Daily that it is “an honor and a privilege” to work with MAPS, and that students in the organization will “transform” medicine.

Having representative medical professionals is important to Wright, given the racial diversity of the U.S.

Though there are systemic barriers to medical professions, MAPs and similar organizations are key to helping underrepresented minority students go to medical school, she said.

Hall said the club has helped her, and other minority students, gain opportunities and have a community to support her as she works toward her goal.

“You don’t see your kind of a representation when you’re going to the doctor’s or … they don’t know what I’m going through,” Hall said. “But then being in MAPS … it’s like the motivation to know that ‘Oh, I can do this.’”

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Twitter: @kaavya_butaney

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