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Clovis Bootcamps Prepare Area Students for Tough Medical School Exam



Participants in the CHSU-COM Pre-Med Bootcamp with Dr. Samuel Kadavakollu, chair of Biomedical Education at California Health Sciences University College of Osteopathic Medicine. (Photo provided by CHSU)
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Anybody who’s lived in the Valley for more than a minute know that there’s a tradition here of growing our own. Usually, we’re talking about peaches, almonds, raisin grapes, or other produce.

Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

But for officials at a Clovis medical school, “growing our own” means finding and supporting students who may one day be our doctors, but who face the challenges of coming from rural areas where a lack of financial resources can limit their preparedness to apply to medical school.

What started out as the Premedical Rural Enrichment Program (PREP) is now the Pre-Med Bootcamp, hosted at California Health Sciences University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. The program provides medical school hopefuls with an array of assistance, including preparing for the almighty MCAT — the Medical College Admission Test. Score high on the MCAT and you stand a good chance of admission into your preferred medical school.

Also in School Zone: 

  • The third annual CMAC Youth Voices Film Screening is happening Oct. 9.
  • Vang Pao Elementary students will get field trips, career exploration through a new grant.
  • Congratulations on national and state honors, anniversary celebration, and a new appointment.


But students in rural areas often don’t have the resources to prepare for the MCAT, so Dr. Samuel Kadavakollu, chair of biomedical education at the College of Osteopathic Medicine, helped spearhead the bootcamps.

“Some students in the Central Valley don’t have the financial means to adequately prepare for the MCAT exams, so we got this idea to create MCAT bootcamps so that we can increase the amount of local pre-medical students and help these students prepare for the MCAT and medical school in general,” he said in an article posted to CHSU’s website. Kadavakollu had been helping mentor area pre-med students since 2012.

Since the first bootcamp in 2019, CHSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine has hosted four more, virtually and in-person. Mini grants awarded from the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium have helped fund these programs.

A paper on the results of the first bootcamp that was held over eight weeks in the summer of 2019 has been published in the Journal of Osteopathic Medicine. The first bootcamp included 78 participants, who reported after the program that they felt better prepared for medical school and the MCAT, were more familiar with osteopathic medicine, and had a greater desire to practice medicine locally. They also reported a better understanding of cultural competency, which is critical in areas such as the Central Valley where many patients, especially in rural areas, are ethnic minorities.

Of the 27 participants who reported their admissions to medical schools, more than half were admitted to osteopathic medical schools, including the 11 who enrolled at CHSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Young Filmmakers Display Work

If you’re wondering what’s on the minds of some of our young people, an upcoming film screening could provide some insight. The third annual CMAC Youth Voices Film Screening will be start at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, and will be held at the Maya Cinemas, 3090 E. Campus Pointe Drive, just east of Fresno State.

The film screening is free and open to all ages. There will be a Q&A with the filmmakers following the screening. Seating is limited, and tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Local junior high and high school students, members of the CMAC Youth Voices cohort, began meeting in June and were guided by CMAC teaching artists Meng Lee and Sergio Cortes, who led them through a comprehensive 14-week training program. Students learned about media literacy, idea generation, script writing, field production, audio production, editing, and post-production.

Students then produced documentary films focusing on social justice issues relevant to the Central Valley that included climate change, cyberbullying, higher education in Latinx communities, and eating disorders among youth.

CMAC Youth Voices is funded by The California Endowment and California Humanities, a nonprofit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. CMAC is the Community Media Access Collaborative, a nonprofit, membership-based organization that enables the community to better connect through media.

Grant Funds Field Trip, Careers Exploration

Vang Pao Elementary students in grades three through six will have an opportunity to explore career and college options thanks to a $10,000 grant from Aera Energy. The Bakersfield-headquartered company, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, selected 10 nonprofits for grant awards. The southeast Fresno school was one of the 10 selected because of its student demographics — 99.6 percent are students of color, and 96% from economically disadvantaged homes — and the staff’s dedication to encourage students to focus on their education for a successful future.

Principal Yua Lee said most students at Vang Paol Elementary, a Fresno Unified elementary, don’t have the opportunity to get beyond their community or explore career options.

The grant will fund a second field trip, destination to be determined, for more than 400 students who will also get to meet engineers, biologists, geologists, and other professionals at a career day at the end of the school year.

From left, Cole Heap, an Aera geologist and membership chair of the AAERG, Vang Pao Elementary School Principal Yua Lee,, and fourth-grader Kaylee Vang. (Photo provided by Aera Energy)

Awards, Anniversaries, Rankings

  • Two Clovis Unified schools were among 29 in California selected as National Blue Ribbon Schools, an award from the U.S. Department of Education to honor schools where students are high-achieving or making the best progress at closing achievement gaps. The two schools — the only ones recognized in the Valley — are Harold L. Woods Elementary in northwest Clovis and Granite Ridge Intermediate in northeast Fresno. Both were recognized as Exemplary High Performing Schools.
  • Fresno State President Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval has appointed Nathan Moore to the University Advisory Board, which provides advice and counsel as need to the university president. Moore is president of AGAPE Planning Partners, a boutique financial planning firm. Moore earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1999 from Fresno State and a certificate of financial planning from the Craig School of Business. He was named Volunteer of the Year in 1999 by the Volunteer Bureau of Fresno County and continues to be involved with volunteer efforts that include preventing human trafficking with Mollie’s House, mentoring fifth and sixth grade boys with Kratt Elementary’s Young Men of Character, and mentoring incarcerated youth. He also volunteers as a chaplain with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office.
  • San Joaquin Valley College will celebrate its 45th anniversary on Oct. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon on the Visalia campus at 8344 W. Mineral King Ave. The event will include several guest speakers, an award ceremony, campus tours, and additional activities for guests to celebrate the college’s 45 years of serving local communities. It was founded by Shirley and Bob Perry to meet the need for local, high-quality career training. Today the college offers more than 20 programs in the medical, business, and industrial trade fields, serving thousands of students on 17 campuses across the state and online.
  • Fresno State psychology grad student Samantha Patricia Navarro was honored recently with a 2022 California State University Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement. Navarro, the child of farmworkers who attended Modesto Junior College and earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Merced, is in her second year of grad school at Fresno State where she is majoring in experimental psychology and maintains a 4.0 grade-point average. As Fresno State’s awardee, she is the Trustee Emeritus Peter Mehas Scholar. Navarro credits her junior high counselor, Aaron Sanchez, with helping her navigate through the coursework and application process to enter college. “It was kind of an understanding that my parents wouldn’t be able to give me much guidance,” said Navarro, whose father dropped out of school after sixth grade and mother dropped out in high school to start working. “I had to step up and seek out information and look for a mentor.”
  • Fresno Pacific University was highly ranked in recent surveys of colleges and universities in categories for social mobility and college costs. In the recent U.S. News & World Report ranking, Fresno Pacific was No. 2 in the Regional Universities — West category for social mobility, which measures the rate of lower-income students earning their bachelor’s degree. The university was No. 39 overall in the category and No. 16 for best values. In Washington Monthly’s rankings, Fresno Pacific was 64th among master’s universities nationally and 35th among “Best Bang for the Buck” schools in the West, up from 105 and 65 in the 2021 rankings.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email