Lehman College Macaulay Honors Grad Receives $200,000 in Scholarships to Attend Medical School

Cesar Andrade, a 2014 Lehman College Macaulay Honors College graduate, has received a $200,000 scholarship to attend medical school at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan.

Lehman College and Macaulay Honors College alumnus Cesar Andrade is about to begin what will certainly be four of the toughest but most rewarding years of his life. As an incoming student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan, the Lehman class of 2014 graduate wants to pursue a career as a primary care physician who works with underserved populations and conducts research addressing healthcare disparities.

The annual tuition at Mt. Sinai is $46,388, but Andrade’s financial burden will be eased considerably thanks to approximately $200,000 in scholarship money that he will receive during the next four years. His school costs will be completely paid for, giving him the extraordinary opportunity to graduate debt free. The median medical student debt after graduation for medical students is $175,000 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Andrade, 23, will only be responsible for his living expenses.

“Mt Sinai was my top choice,” he says. “It was a no-brainer for me because I wanted to stay close to New York and my family and they gave me such great financial aid and scholarships.”

He will be receiving an $80,000 merit scholarship and a $120,00 needs-based grant based in part on his family’s income. As an undocumented student, obtaining scholarship money was of utmost importance, because he wasn’t eligible for federal government assistance. Fifteen years ago when Andrade was just eight years old, he moved with his family from Ecuador to Washington Heights and entered Lehman as a freshman in 2010. He is a member of a group called the “Pre-Health Dreamers,” a non-profit national organization founded by two of his friends from California as a way to advocate for undocumented students wanting to attend medical school.

In addition to an outstanding academic career at Lehman, Andrade was an athlete and an integral part of the men’s tennis and soccer teams. In 2011, he was part of a Lightning soccer squad that won its first CUNY championship. The experience as a student athlete gave him the opportunity to learn how to successfully balance both complex biology labs and arduous practices.

In 2015, a year after graduation, Andrade sought the help of Professor Alice Michelle Augustine, a Lehman adjunct professor in the English Department and the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Program and Beyond The Bachelors Program. Augustine assisted Andrade with his medical school application, including his personal statement, essays, and scholarship applications. He credits her with significantly helping him to navigate the complex process.

“I coached Cesar as he prepared his personal statements and helped him craft competitive applications,” says Augustine. “I loved working with him because he was responsive as I coached him. Whenever I gave him feedback on a draft, he would respond with changes and updates in a short time. He also completed his applications early, which is helpful for all students trying to find funding to attend professional school.”

During his years at Lehman, Andrade revealed that he had several people he regarded as mentors and influential in helping him achieve success in college and ultimately in attaining entry to medical school.

He says that while conventional wisdom is for pre-med students to take biology and chemistry at the same time, Macaulay Honors Director Gary Schwartz advised him to spread the classes out between his freshman and sophomore years. “That was a huge relief,” he recalls. “It was a hard adjustment coming from high school and I had no chemistry background. If you had asked me what an atom was, I really couldn’t tell you.”

He recalls his biology department advisor Professor Maryam Bamshad, as being supportive and later writing him a letter of recommendation for medical school. And his considers the three classes he took with Associate Professor Alyshia Gálvez as “really opening my eyes to the realities of the healthcare system.” He says Gálvez’s classes on health and migration in the department of Latin American and Puerto Rican studies, helped inspire wanting to explore not just the clinical, but “the social determinants of healthcare” such as nutrition and safety.

Currently, Andrade is working at Mt. Sinai as a clinical research coordinator in diabetes prevention. After graduating Lehman in 2014, he worked at the New York State Health Foundation.

He plans to take two months off before beginning medical school in August. He’ll also be moving into Mt Sinai’s student housing—the first time he’s lived away from his childhood home and his parents in Washington Heights. He does feel well prepared for what’s ahead. “Lehman was an incredible experience for me because it was so diverse,” he says. “There were so many people like me from all over the world.”