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Lois Pope Presents Life Unsung Hero Scholarships To Four Sophie Davis Freshmen

Freshmen Daniel Asemota, Mohammad Sadat, Maha Salama and Chantal Strachan, all aspiring physicians in the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education at The City College of New York (CCNY), were chosen as 2009 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), presented the awards, which each carry a $25,000 stipend, at a ceremony and luncheon at the College, Wednesday, October 7. The scholarships go to incoming Sophie Davis freshmen who have demonstrated academic excellence and selfless community service while in high school.

From left: Mohammad Sadat, Daniel Asemota, Maha Salama, Dr. Gregory H. Williams, Chantal Strachan, Mrs. Lois Pope, her son Paul Pope, her daughter Maria Kessel and Sophie Davis School Dean Eitan Friedman.Calling the four honorees heroes, Mrs. Pope said they were all worthy recipients. “All of you have demonstrated super academic achievement but more important have given of yourself selflessly,” she said. “It’s an honor for me to help you on your journey.” 

Ethan Fried, M.D., Vice Chair for Education, Department of Medicine, St. Luke’s - Roosevelt Hospital, and a 1984 Sophie Davis alumnus, was the luncheon keynote speaker. He recounted how Sophie Davis provided him with a solid foundation for his medical career. 

Dr. Gregory H. Williams, outgoing President of The City College, commended the Pope Scholars for their accomplishments and thanked Mrs. Pope for her unwavering support to CCNY.

Mrs. Pope established the LIFE Unsung Hero Scholarship program as an extension of her vision for rewarding and encouraging young people who put extraordinary effort into helping others. LIFE is guided by a firm belief that young people are society’s most valuable resource and that hands-on community service offers important and lasting ways to educate, to motivate and to improve community life.

Since the scholars program was begun in 1997, it has provided funds for more than 30 entering Sophie Davis students. Four Pope Scholars are selected annually. Brief bios of the 2009 Pope Scholars follow:

Daniel Asemota: Mr. Asemota is a graduate of Queens Gateway to Health Sciences High School, where he made the Honor Roll every semester and was inducted into The National Honor Society. He also participated in the Queens Bridge to Medicine Program, an enrichment program that helps prepare students for programs like the Sophie Davis School. Despite his rigorous academic schedule, Mr. Asemota still found time to give back to his community. His volunteer service included summers at a local nursery school and a public library and more than two years at the South Jamaica Police Athletic League. He tutored children in science there and at other PAL centers in Queens. Mr. Asemota, who plans to become a pediatrician, says “we need to look beyond ourselves; maybe then will our world be a better place.”

Mohammad Sadat: Mr. Sadat was an AP Scholar with Honors and ARISTA National Honor Society member at Brooklyn Technical High School. He also attended the Queens Bridge to Medicine Program in preparation for Sophie Davis. Notable among his extracurricular activities at Brooklyn Tech were the chess club, writing for the school paper and volunteer work at Brookdale University and Coney Island hospitals. There Mr. Sadat observed many different areas of medicine and worked directly with patients. He credits his volunteer work with solidifying his desire to become a doctor. “I learned to work well with sick patients and understand more about compassion, caring and the human condition,” Mr. Sadat says.

Maha Salama: Ms. Salama graduated from The High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College as Valedictorian and president of The National Honor Society. While in high school, she volunteered at a local public library and was a peer tutor at her school. In addition, she served as editor of the school newspaper for one year. Her medicine-related activities include participation in a neuroscience experiment at The Rockefeller University and working at Mount Sinai Hospital, where some of her activities involved interacting with patients. Summing up her experiences, Ms. Salama says: “Knowledge is a powerful tool and with it great changes can be brought to the world.”

Chantal Strachan: A graduate of the Benjamin Banneker Academy for Community Development, Ms. Strachan is listed in “Who’s Who among American High School Students.” She was a member of the varsity tennis team at Banneker and a member and artistic director of the Dance of the Banneker Academy Ensemble. In her Brooklyn community, she sang in her church choir and volunteered for many causes. One of them was the READ Foundation, which uses teens to provide one-on-one tutoring to at-risk children. Ms. Strachan also gave her time to New York Community Hospital and completed a mini-medicine program at NYU School of Medicine. She wants to become a physician to contribute to her community. “Physicians, ideally, are the heart that contributes to the body of the community,” she says.




Jay Mwamba
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