The Herbert W. Nickens Medical Student Scholarships, "consist of five scholarships given to outstanding students entering their third year of medical school who have shown leadership in efforts to eliminate inequities in medical education and health care and have demonstrated leadership efforts in addressing educational, societal, and health care needs of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Each recipient receives a $5,000 scholarship." One of this year's recipients is Max Cruz, '08, who was profiled in the Association of American Medical Colleges magazine:
Maximilian (Max) J.V. Cruz, a third-year medical student at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in Camden, N.J., has a deep commitment to community service and working with underserved popqlations. He first became involved with community outreach when he volunteered for a high school service trip to Appalachia, where he saw first-hand the effects of poverty and iriadequate access to health care. He also participated in Aim High, a program designed to provide inner-city St. Louis high school students with an intensive summer session of tutoring to better prepare them for college.
Born and raised in the suburbs of St. Louis, Max received his BA in Spanish from the University of Notre Dame. As an undergraduate, he volunteered at St. Anthony of Padua in Camden, N.J., as part of a summer service learning project. There, he assisted with an HIV/AIDS ministry, helped community members organize to better coordinate with local law enforcement, and held a free sports camp for neighborhood and parish children.
During the year between graduation from Notre Dame and the beginning of his medical studies, Max spent four months volunteering at Santisirno Sacramento Parish in Piura, Peru. He assisted nurses in the free clinic and hospice, joined nurses in making house calls to deliver medical attention to those who had no means of accessing care, served as a translator for visiting missionaries, and developed public health information sessions in Piura and nearby villages.
At Cooper Medical School, Max has already logged more than 250 hours of community service. He was a mentor to a Camden high school student as part of the Camden After-School Medical Program (CAMP), which exposes at-risk students to medical education and careers. He is a founding board member of Tutor Time, which he and two other Cooper medical students initiated in 2013. One of the few after-school options in Camden, the program has grown to include more than 20 Cooper Medical School volunteers.
Max is a board member of both the Cooper Rowan Clinic, a free, student-run facility serving those who lack health insurance, and the Camden Area Health Education Center, a nonprofit that has served the citizens of Camden for more than 35 years. In addition, he is the founder of Seminaries de Salud, a program that offers a workshop series in Spanish to provide Camden's citizens with the awareness and tools they need to manage their own health and wellness. He is also collecting data to identify gaps in health care access among Camden's Latino subgroups.
Max served as the vice president of Cooper Medical School's Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA) chapter, which seeks to educate citizens about the health care process and recruit Latino students into health care professions. He currently serves as the CIO on the LMSA-Northeast's Executive Council.
Max hopes to specialize in pediatrics and use all the knowledge gained from his experiences to best serve his patients, both mentally and physically.