SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Two African-American doctors in Scottsdale are passing along their knowledge and support to the next generation of minority med students.
For many in undeserved communities, just getting into medical school is a major accomplishment. But soon after, the financial reality sets in.
Dr. Alyx Porter Umphrey has climbed the mountain, becoming a successful doctor at Mayo Clinic, and the first Black woman in the entire country to practice neuro-oncology.
But the journey through med school left Dr. Umphrey and her husband Gregory, also a doctor, buried in debt.
"We come from families that are emotionally supportive but financially less so, and by the time we graduated, we both owed half a million dollars in medical school debt," Umphrey said.
When they were in medical school, support for minority med students just wasn't there Umphrey said. So she and her husband made it a mission to give back, starting a national nonprofit based in Scottsdale called ElevateMed.
"There's an African proverb that says if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together, and that's what we're doing with ElevateMed. We're trying to go together with this next generation."
The program is a huge success.
Partnering with fellow physicians and businesses, ElevateMed has raised $250,000, awarding scholarships thus far to 20 med students across the country. Each scholarship is $10,000.
"It's been such a long, long road to get to this point," said scholarship recipient Caylan Moore.
Moore is a Phoenix native currently studying medicine at the University of Arizona Medical School in Tucson. His goal is to become a psychiatrist.
"I want to serve people who look just like me and lived in the communities where I lived," Moore said.
His interview with ElevateMed was so impressive that an outside donor added another $50,000 dollars to his scholarship.
"When they said the amount of $50,000 I was in disbelief," he said. "Like what is going on right now!"
Beyond the scholarships, ElevateMed also provides support, offering financial training classes, and leadership and mentoring programs.
"Many of us don't have that privilege of having a family member who practiced medicine, having someone in close proximity that you can reach out to and say, 'Hey, how did you do that?'" Dr. Umphrey said. "That's really where the mentorship piece of our program becomes so critical."
"ElevateMed has shown time and time again that they really invest in us and people in communities like mine," Moore said.
"We want to provide our scholars with mentors that look like them, who are doing what they are doing," said Dr. Umphrey
Moore says he will take what he has gained from the program and pass the knowledge on.
"And that investment means so much to me. It fires me up for the future because one day I am going to be in the position to do this for people like me and I'm just so excited about the future," Moore said.
ElevateMed relies on donations from other doctors and businesses, including Chick-fil-A, who they say donated $100,000 to the scholarship program.
For more information on how you can help, click here.