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September 20, 2007


NEW YORK, September 20, 2007 – Freshmen Irene R. Gaines, Sergio Galeano, Ashley Parks and Jennifer Y. Tom, all aspiring physicians in the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College of New York, are this year’s recipients of the prestigious Lois Pope Annual LIFE Unsung Hero Scholarship Awards at CCNY.

 Mrs. Pope, the Florida-based philanthropist and President of Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), will present the awards, which each carry a $25,000 stipend, at a ceremony 11:30 a.m. Thursday, September 27, in the Amsterdam Room of the CCNY Faculty Dining Hall.

Nina A. Bickell, M.D., M.P.H., a 1981 Sophie Davis alumna and Associate Professor in the Departments of Health Policy and Medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine will be the keynote speaker.  City College President Dr. Gregory H. Williams and Dean Stanford Roman will offer remarks.

This is the tenth year that Mrs. Pope has presented scholarships to incoming Sophie Davis freshmen who have demonstrated academic excellence and selfless community service in high school.

The LIFE Unsung Hero Scholarship program is an extension of Ms. Pope’s vision for rewarding and encouraging young people who put extraordinary effort into helping others. LIFE is a non-profit organization that is guided by the firm belief that young people are our most valuable resource and that learning from hands-on community service opportunities is an important and lasting way to educate, motivate and improve community life.

For over 30 years, the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at CCNY has served to open the door to a medical career for promising young people, many from groups underrepresented in medicine. The School offers a combined seven-year B.S./M.D. program. Students spend five years at CCNY where they complete a B.S. degree and the curriculum content of the first two years of medical school.  They then transfer to one of six cooperating medical schools to complete their studies. More than 1,600 students have gone on to earn their M.D. degrees from the School’s cooperating institutions.

Brief bios of the 2007 Pope Scholars follow:

Irene R. Gaines: Ms. Gaines was a top student at Staten Island Technical High School, where she graduated with a 96 G.P.A.  She achieved this while completing AP and college-level courses, the latter through CUNY’s College Now program.  Ms. Gaines also completed four years of Russian language study.  Her extra-curricular activities included the Key Club and the People to People Ambassadors program, through which she visited Australia. In addition, Ms. Gaines volunteered at the American Cancer Society and at Staten Island University Hospital.

Sergio Galeano: From an early age, Mr. Galeano has stood out as an outstanding mentor and student. He graduated from Regis High School, a prestigious Jesuit school in Manhattan that offers a free education to the best and brightest young men from metropolitan New York’s parochial schools, with a 3.5 G.P.A.  At Regis, he was a mentor to incoming students and belonged to several clubs including the Heritage Club, Hispanic Heritage Club and indoor track team.  A resident of South Ozone Park, he also was a dedicated volunteer for the REACH Program at Regis.

Ashley Parks: Ms. Parks was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens, and attended St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows.  She graduated with a 97 G.P.A. and along the way was selected as a National Merit Scholarship Commended Student and National Achievement Award Semifinalist.  Ms. Parks participated on the Science Olympiad Team for three years, twice as co-captain.  As a member of St. Francis’ Speech and Debate Team, she qualified for state competition. She has volunteered as a peer tutor, peer counselor at her high school, an aide at a local public elementary school and worked with elderly residents at the Monsignor Fitzpatrick Skilled Nursing Facility in Jamaica.

Jennifer Y. Tom: A Flushing native, Ms. Tom attended Benjamin Cardozo High School, where she was a member of the Da Vinci Math & Science Program.  She graduated with a weighted G.P.A. above 100 % and ranked fourth out of a class of 958.  She was on the school’s Science Olympiad Team for two years, one of them as captain. As a member of the ARISTA Honor Society, Ms. Tom volunteered as a peer tutor. Her other voluntary work included fund raising for UNICEF and The American Cancer Society, and devoting more than 30 hours per week over three summers at the Fremont Rideout Cancer Center in Marysville, California.