Medical College of Wisconsin Medical School Medical School

MCW Health Equity Scholars Program (HESP)

The Medical College of Wisconsin School of Medicine facilitates the Health Equity Scholars Program (HESP), a health equity training track within the MD program, aimed at addressing health and health care disparities in Wisconsin and Milwaukee's shortage of physicians.
for high school students intro
MCW's reach in Wisconsin

Our Mission

Our mission is to support medical and health equity training while assisting to reduce the cost associated with your training experience and empowering you to thrive in medical school and beyond.

HESP Key Elements

This 4-year-long, integrated, longitudinal program will use a “place-based education” approach to train a diverse cohort of medical students to advance health.
Financial Support

Financial Support

All HESP Scholars will receive a full tuition scholarship to MCW-Milwaukee.
Health Equity Training

Health Equity Training

All HESP Scholars will be trained to expertly care for and serve marginalized groups in Milwaukee communities through the fostering of connection to place and a sense of belonging, first-hand knowledge of physical and recreational assets of these communities, and the development of social networks.
Psychosocial Support

Psychosocial Support

Psychosocial support involves learning to navigate the challenging experiences and systems that we experience directly and vicariously as individuals, communities, and organizations, and learning the daily practices needed to have a sustainable and joyful career in medicine.
Living-Learning Community

Living-Learning Community

HESP scholars will have the opportunity to live in one of the new apartments in the ThriveOn King building in the Bronzeville area of Milwaukee. HESP will also be housed at the ThriveOn King office building. This arrangement will support HESP’s place-based educational approach, equipping HESP scholars to merge their lived and practical learning experiences when counseling patients, connecting them to appropriate resources that are considerate of their patients’ membership in diverse cultural, ethnic, and social groups.


We are looking for applicants who have a demonstrable interest in addressing health care disparities in the City of Milwaukee and will support these students' growth into physician-leaders who can transform healthcare alongside the Milwaukee communities in which they serve.

  • Enrollment in HESP is first contingent upon meeting all of the pre-matriculation requirements for the School of Medicine and being admitted to MCW-Milwaukee School of Medicine
  • Have a demonstrated financial need
  • Have a demonstrable interest in health equity 
*MCW HESP has no influence on which applicants are accepted into the School of Medicine and operates as a separate health equity training track


HESP is a training track within the MCW-Milwaukee’s School of Medicine Regular MD program. Acceptance into HESP is contingent upon acceptance into the MCW-Milwaukee School of Medicine (SOM). If you are accepted to MCW-Milwaukee SOM and meet the eligibility criteria for HESP, you will be invited to apply for HESP via email.

A select number of HESP applicants who submit the written HESP application will be invited for a virtual interview. All invitations to interview for HESP will be sent via email. Selection factors for HESP include the HESP written application, experiences, interest in and aptitude for health equity work, and the personal interview.

Helpful Information

-Submit your primary application through AMCAS and choose the Regular MD program
-On the secondary application, designate MCW-Milwaukee as your campus preference
-Applicants who are accepted into the MCW-Milwaukee SOM and meet HESP eligibility requirements will receive an additional application for HESP via email
-Interviews for HESP will take place virtually and will be granted to eligible applicants who have been accepted into the MCW-Milwaukee School of Medicine and have completed the HESP written application

Note: You are strongly advised to apply and complete your primary and secondary applications early

Meet the Inaugural Cohort

MCW’s first HESP cohort is thrilled to begin their medical education journey with an intentional focus on addressing health and health care disparities in Wisconsin and Milwaukee's shortage of physicians.


Gani Ali

HESP Scholar, Class of 2028


Ciara Ayala

HESP Scholar, Class of 2028


Alex Rafael Martinez Colindres

HESP Scholar, Class of 2028


Miracle Powell

HESP Scholar, Class of 2028


Dalicia Simpson

HESP Scholar, Class of 2028

Words From Our Students

Each HESP scholar brings unique perspectives and passions to MCW. Learn more about motivates them to make a difference in the community they will serve.

"I am truly excited about the community asset that the ThriveOn building will become. It will offer a chance to interact and reside with the residents of Bronzeville, which will help us gain a better understanding of their health care needs. This will enable us to take the necessary steps to improve health equity within Milwaukee."

Ciara Ayala, '28

Being able to learn and grow with, and within, my community throughout my medical school journey is what appeals to me the most. I am excited to be able to come back home to Milwaukee and serve the communities that have contributed to my growth. Gaining hands-on experience in engaging with and serving underrepresented/underserved communities early in my medical career will undoubtedly refine my skills and abilities as a holistic, understanding physician by the time I complete medical school.

Dalicia Simpson, '28

I am so blessed to have been raised by my father and grandmother who did everything to ensure that I was safe and lived a fulfilling life. I know that my grandmother is close and will be with me every step of the way as I grow through this new chapter of life.

Miracle Powell, '28

I am passionate about learning as much as possible to impact my community positively. By meaningfully applying my knowledge and skills, I aim to make Milwaukee a place where everyone can live, grow, and thrive in good health.

Alex Rafael Martinez Colindres, '28

ThriveOn is going to positively benefit many lives and I am so grateful to be a part of that. I am excited to engage and connect with all who share the space.

Gani Ali, '28

Meet Our Planning Team

The HESP Planning Team: HESP was implemented following a year-long needs assessment and design process conducted by an dedicated, experienced, and creative team of MCW faculty, staff, and students and leaders from the Milwaukee community who have expertise in the city’s needs and who are heavily invested in its growth and thriving. The needs assessment included key stakeholder interviews, focus groups with URIM students at MCW, and a comprehensive literature review. The resulting design of HESP reflects a collaborative, placed-based approach to teaching and learning health equity.


Genyne Edwards, JD

Founder & Partner, P3 Development Group


Catherine (Cassie) Ferguson, MD

Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Director, Quality Improvement & Patient Safety Scholarly Pathway


Michael Levas, MD, MS

Professor of Pediatrics; Director of Social Medicine, Section of Pediatric Emergency Medicine; Medical Director, Project Ujima; Associate Director, Comprehensive Injury Center


Joshua Parish, NRP, MSc, MPH

Assistant Chief - EMS, Training, & Education City of Milwaukee Fire Department


Devarati Syam, PhD

Program Manager, MCW


Omar Syed

Resident, Medical College of Wisconsin


Suma Thareja, PhD

Third-year Medical Student.


Egal Warsame

Third-Year MCW Medical Student; MPS Graduate


Please reach out to:

Dr. Cassie Ferguson, Associate Professor of Pediatrics (
Dr. Devarati Syam, HESP Program Manager (

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