York College, CUNY Bio Major Completes Internship at Yale

Clinton Ehidom is going places. To prove it, the York College junior just spent summer 2016 getting a head start on the medical career he intends to pursue when he graduates from York College in 2018.

For Ehidom, who just began his junior year when most students born in 1998 like he did, are incoming freshmen, the Yale experience was not only rewarding academically, it reassured him that medicine is indeed his calling and it contributed to his already impressive maturity.

The 18 year-old says the six-week Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP) at Yale Medical School was a fulfilling experience in every way. He was able to shadow physicians in pediatrics and the emergency room, engage in “a learning curriculum,” have meetings with the deans and faculty of the school and dorm with medical students.

“It was amazing,” said Ehidom who excelled in all levels of the program and became certified in wilderness first aid while there. “The whole program is designed to be challenging and to push you to your limits. I took major classes like physics, organic chemistry and writing and communications while having periodic lectures on career development and public health. The whole program was thrilling, it gave me real exposure to medicine; and it definitely diversified my experience.”

Born in Imo State, Nigeria, Ehidom arrived in New York at the age of 12 in 2010 and enrolled at York at 16 to study biology with the ultimate goal of becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon. He is a graduate of Fredrick Douglass Academy III in the Bronx, where he said he finished with a C + average. He now travels an hour and a half by train to York and has a GPA of 4.0 in his major and a 3.97 cumulative average.

Clearly a goal-oriented self-starter, Ehidom also pursues scholarships to fund his education and recently received the Thomas Jefferson Scholarship offered by the York College Foundation for the fall 2016 semester. Earlier in the year he received the John B.K. Aheto Sophomore Scholarship Award from the York College Alumni Association; and was accepted to attend the annual Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute conference in Washington, D.C., scheduled for November 2016.

In addition to the SMDEP program at Yale, to which his friend, Catherine Sanchez introduced him, the young scholar received other offers for the summer, including an acceptance into an international research program in Morocco, an internship with the New York City Department of Health and an opportunity to research with the CUNY Summer Undergraduate Research Program (CSURP). Ehidom choose the Yale program because of the direct opportunities it offered and the connections he could make.

Connections at York, which he says he would “choose to attend all over again,” have also been critical to his success.

“It has been wonderful coming to York,” says Ehidom. “I have heard of crowded classes at other places. But at York you get to see the professors right away; and I just take advantage of every opportunity.”

Indeed, Ehidom’s success at York has followed a path President Marcia V. Keizs encourages every freshman class to do: “connect.”

“Connect with an academic mentor and connect with a mentor from among your peers,” Dr. Keizs usually encourages new students at Convocation each fall.

Ehidom has done exactly that.  

He connected with Ariel Rosario, his now peer-mentor, who completed a similar internship at Yale last year, and encourages him in his scholarly pursuits; and he connected with Dr. Francisco Villegas as his faculty mentor.

“Mr. Ehidom has put a lot of work into his study on deep brain stimulation and from what I observe he is an ambitious and determined student who will surely accomplish whatever he sets out to do,” said Dr. Villegas, a respected scholar/teacher in his field of behavioral neuroscience. “I think he has all the skills he needs as a scholar. His motivation and willingness to learn give him an advantage over people his age.”

Ehidom says his research project, “The Effect of Deep Brain Stimulation on attention in Rat Model of Alzheimer’s Disease,” involves deep brain stimulation, “a surgical procedure that involves the use of devices to stimulate regions of the brain.”

He says the goal of the project is to investigate the effect of deep brain stimulation on aspects of attention based on the time of administration.”

“Clinton is a gifted student and he would be an outstanding surgeon,” said Villegas of his mentee, who received superior evaluations from the Yale internship.

 Ehidom for his part, took full advantage of the priceless opportunity in more ways than the academic.

“I had a lot of fun and made lots of friends that I stay in touch [with] and work together with,” says Ehidom, who will soon begin an on-campus job at York tutoring in chemistry and biology. 

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