Florida A&M graduate Brittney Newby recently became the first African-American female to be admitted into UF’s M.D.-Ph.D program.
Newby, an Atlanta native, graduated summa cum laude in the spring of 2009 from FAMU with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. She was officially accepted into UF’s prestigious program Jan. 18.
“It is very humbling,” said Newby. “I can’t help but to think of all of the people that have paved the way. Without them, I wouldn’t even have the opportunity to partake in this prestigious program.
Newby said her family helps her keep that balance and have been very emotionally instrumental.
“My family is extremely proud of me and they continue to support me. Especially my mother, she has been that support I needed because applying can be very emotional,” said Newby.
The University of Florida’s M.D.-Ph.D program was created in 1967. Each year, the program only admits eight students. The students’ tuition is paid for in full with the help of personal mentors and all students receive a $25,000 per year stipend.
Lekan Latinwo, chair of FAMU’s Department of Biology, James Adams, co-chair, and Letina Banks, pre-health advisor, met with the director of the U F’s M.D.-Ph.D program, Stephen Hsu and his assistant, Skip Harris, in hopes of increasing UF’s admission of more minority students into their program.
“When I read Brittney’s personal statement, I told her she would be our first student to enter into the M.D.-Ph.D program at the University of Florida due to her extensive research experience,” said Banks. “We started working together to make sure this happened.”
Banks is very optimistic that Newby will only be the first of many to enter into the prestigious program. The partnership fostered between FAMU and UF has enabled them to become closer to Hsu’s goal of diversifying the program.
“After the initial interview with Ms. Newby, I knew she would be perfect. We had been watching her for a couple of years now,” said Hsu. “Letina has been very instrumental in this process.”
Hsu raved about how much the students and facility made a great impression on him when he visited FAMU last year. He looks forward to keeping the pipeline with university open in order to successful recruit other intelligent and highly qualified minorities.
“The campus was very quiet and the students walked with a purpose. The students here at UF are very loud and believe education is a right not a privilege. The students at FAMU knew that it was privilege and took my being there very seriously and it was very humbling,” said Hsu. “The students here understand how much sacrifice it takes.”
Hsu said every student should have that attitude about education. The partnership between FAMU and UF will help foster more diversity into the program. Newby says because of her foundation and support at FAMU she is able to humbly walk into this program prepared and confident.
“After my tour of the program I loved it and knew it was where I need to be. The same feeling I had when entering FAMU I had when entering this program,” said Newby.
After graduation, Newby hopes to work as a pediatric physician.