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September 21, 2005


NEW YORK, September 21, 2005 – Two high school graduates from Staten Island and two from Brooklyn – all aspiring physicians and/or medical researchers – are this year’s recipients of the prestigious Lois Pope Annual LIFE Unsung Hero Scholarship Award at The City College of New York (CCNY).

Sabrina Gard and Angie Hernandez of Staten Island, and Beatrice Lors and Zack John Williams of Brooklyn, incoming freshmen at the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College, will be presented with $25,000 scholarships by Lois Pope, a Florida-based philanthropist and President of Leaders in Furthering Education (LIFE), at a ceremony 11:30 a.m. Thursday, September 29, in the Amsterdam Room of CCNY’s Faculty Dining Hall.

Dr. Mathew S. Maurer, a 1990 summa cum laude graduate of Sophie Davis and the Irving Assistant Professor of Medicine and Director, Clinical Cardiovascular Research Laboratory for the Elderly, Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, will be the guest speaker.  Dr. Maurer also directs the Columbia Cooperative Aging Program.

 For the past eight years, Mrs. Pope has presented scholarships to incoming freshman attending the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education who demonstrate academic excellence and selfless community work.  “These four individuals have shown both excellence in their studies and selfless volunteerism outside of the classroom. Their commitment, paired with their stellar qualities, will continue to distinguish them, not just in their chosen professions, but more importantly as they strive to make profound contributions to the betterment of humanity,” Mrs. Pope said.

The Sophie Davis program provides increased access to medical and health training for inner-city youth from New York City communities and schools.  Over 80 percent of entering students go on to complete medical school, compared with a 50 percent attrition rate among freshmen entering traditional premedical programs at four-year colleges and universities.

Sabrina Gard

Ms. Gard, an honors graduate of Curtis High School on Staten Island, spent a summer participating in the Physicians Enhancement Program at Staten Island University, sparking her desire to become a physician.  She placed first in the borough-wide Academic Olympics of the College of Staten Island in physics and received the University of Rochester Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award as a “Top Achiever.” She also organized food drives and was captain of the women’s varsity volleyball and tennis teams at Curtis High.

Angie Hernandez

Ms. Hernandez, an honor roll graduate of the Susan E. Wagner School on Staten Island, first became interested in medicine in response to the misdiagnosis of a loved one. Following that experience, she became a volunteer at the Staten Island office of the American Cancer Society, the Seaview Hospital Rehabilitation Center’s trauma and brain injury unit, and Mt. Sinai Hospital.  In addition, Ms. Hernandez was a peer tutor in math, biology and Italian at her high school.

Beatrice Lors

Ms. Lors, a National Honor Society member and graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, has interned with the Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island Area Health Education Center.  She has focused on such issues as tobacco cessation, health disparities, diabetes and hypertension.  She has also participated in the Arthur Ashe Health Service Academy for the past four years. Among her volunteer activities, she has spent time with the American Red Cross and the New York Methodist Hospital. Of Haitian heritage, Ms. Lors aspires to someday join Doctors Without Borders.

Zack John Williams

Mr. Williams is an honors graduate of Archbishop Molloy High School in Brooklyn.  He has been a promoter of coat and toy drives and a leader in his church.  In addition, he has tutored children at a center for battered women and has become an advocate for improving education for at-risk children. Born of Trinidadian parents, he participated in track and field at Archbishop Molloy.

The LIFE Unsung Hero Scholarship program is an extension of Lois 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.  One of Mrs. Pope’s inspirations for creating the LIFE Foundation was an article she read in a Florida newspaper about a young man who had collected over 2,000 pairs of shoes for needy children.

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 BS 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 M.D. degree.  More than 1,400 students have gone on to earn their M.D. degrees from the School’s cooperating institutions.