Finding Community and Building a Future

College of Medicine alumna wants to drive change

Sarah AppeaduAs a University of Cincinnati College of Medicine student, Sarah Appeadu, MD, ’21, remembers journaling on the “3 Cs” that got her through medical school: Community, community, community.

Now, when she lists the people who supported her through four years of training—the last year in a global pandemic—it keeps growing: her family, her church, her classmates, and the college’s Office of Student Affairs and Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

“I look back and it was such a crucial time to really be nurtured in that way,” she says. “I’m so thankful that I had those people. It shows being around the right people really mattered. That’s my same hope for residency even.”

Coming to UC

Appeadu was seeking community when she chose UC in 2017, a decision that was confirmed by scholarship support. She had competitive offers from two other medical schools, but her close-knit family was moving to Cincinnati from Atlanta for her father’s position with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business.

“I was at a crossroads,” she remembers. “I just wanted to make sure I was making the best decision. Getting the scholarship was that final nudge in the right direction—it all came together.”

Once at UC, Appeadu found lifelong friends among her classmates and faculty mentors. “My classmates, especially the other Black women in my class, were a huge support system. We were study buddies, we had a common experience, we uplifted each other,” she says.

A passion for medicine—and people

As a self-described nerdy kid, Appeadu loved the math her father taught her and was doing pre-algebra at ten years old. She always wanted to be a doctor, influenced by her mom’s work as a registered nurse.

“Knowing my mom was helping people every day, even though she was tired when she came home—it planted the seed that I wanted to help people, too,” she remembers.

Now, she’s headed to the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for her residency in emergency medicine.

She hopes to take her passion for helping people to drive larger change. She says the past year has underscored the need for better representation in medicine, the gap of health care disparities and the call to directly reach people who are marginalized: “You have to ask: what do the people say they need – and how we can actually meet that?

Personally, Appeadu hopes to build community for others in her own career: to be a visible Black woman physician for future generations, to mentor and financially support “the brilliant individuals coming up behind us.”

“I look back and am grateful for the sacrifices my parents made in faith to pave the path before me. And now I am reaping countless blessings and opportunities. How am I going to pay it forward? That’s what really matters.”

Supported by scholarships

Appeadu was the first recipient of the College of Medicine’s UC Health Diversity Scholarship, a program seeded by UC Health with a leadership gift in 2018. UC Health’s $1.5 million gift create scholarships to drive a more diverse pipeline of health care professionals in each of the four colleges within the UC Academic Health Center: College of Allied Health Sciences, College of Medicine, College of Nursing and James L. Winkle College of Pharmacy.

Since then, more than 45 UC students from all Academic Health Center colleges have received a scholarship through the program and accompanying matching funds.

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