Student-created mentor groups shine through UMass LIGHT

Three student groups at UMass Chan Medical School have collaborated in a mentoring program called UMass LIGHT (the Leadership Institute for Growth, Health and Transformation). The goals of UMass LIGHT are to increase diversity, fairness and inclusion; promote career growth; and creating professional development opportunities through mentorship and community events. On Saturday 14 May, UMass LIGHT will host its first conference at the Beechwood Hotel opposite the Medical School campus in Worcester.

Uchechi Nna and Daniel Ugochukwu

Matching students with faculty members, UMass LIGHT includes programs originally created by UMass Chan’s chapters of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA), and the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA), and the MD/PhD program. Organizers say UMass LIGHT has grown to more than 300 students and faculty since its inception last year.

“There aren’t many places where underrepresented students can casually have conversations with people with a lot of experience in this field to find support around the nuanced stuff – the stuff that isn’t necessarily exams and step-by-step stuff, but how to look for opportunities, for example” , says Uchechi Nna, a student at TH Chan School of Medicine.

Nna, a former SNMA board member, came up with the idea for UMass LIGHT together with fellow medical student Daniel Ugochukwu.

“We thought about how we can have a lasting impact on the school, and we thought about mentorship and how there aren’t many mentorships here aimed at minority students,” Ugochukwu said.

The groups partner with Mark Johnson, MD, PhD, the Maroun Semaan Chair of Neurosurgery, chairman and professor of neurological surgery and senior vice provost for mentorship, leadership and transformation at UMass Chan. dr. Johnson has worked with other UMass Chan leaders to establish a mentorship and leadership institute since he was named senior vice provost last year.

“During the pandemic, I think it became very clear to many of us that we needed to be more connected,” Johnson said. “The aim of the institute is to help students and educators realize their full potential, helping them be more connected and involved with UMass Chan.”

The conference is on Saturday, May 14 from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM. Speakers include Mary Ahn, MD, professor of psychiatry and vice provost for faculty affairs; Rick Sontag, MBA, founder and president of the Sontag Foundation, which aims to improve the quality of life of brain tumor patients; Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor, Executive Deputy Chancellor, Provost and Dean of TH Chan School of Medicine; and Jack Rossin, a presentation trainer and instructor at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

Participants will also have the opportunity to develop leadership and mentorship skills.

AMWA medical student Niharika Kareddy and MD/PhD students Melanie Barbini and Michela Oster contributed to the realization of the event.

Those interested in attending the event can register here. Additional information is available on the UMass LIGHT website. Questions can be directed to

Related UMass Chan News Stories:
Community of mentoring changing culture at UMass Chan
TH Chan School of Medicine students create mentoring program for accepted students
UMass Medical School loves color orientation first students
Mark Johnson Appointed Senior Consulting Vice Provost for Mentorship, Leadership and Transformation

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