LMU’S Barbee receives minority scholarship

Published 11:51 am Friday, December 22, 2023


Recognizing the achievements and passion of six inspiring student doctors, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine announced the recipients of the 2023 Sherry R. Arnstein Underrepresented Minority Scholarship this week. Lincoln Memorial University-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine third-year medical student Cheyennae Barbee was among the honorees.

The scholarship was endowed by the Arnstein family to honor former AACOM Executive Director Sherry R. Arnstein’s legacy and to help current and new osteopathic students from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds fund their education. In addition to Barbee, other recipients included Carley Andrew of Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Jordan Howard of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine South Georgia, Adrian Mercado of Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine, Alejandro Serru-Rivera of Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine and Neriah Sosa of University of Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine.

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“We are very proud that these students represent the next generation of osteopathic physicians and will be the future doctors advancing our nation’s health care system,” said AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “Our country is facing a crisis and is in desperate need of highly trained and skilled physicians, particularly doctors of color and those dedicated to practicing in underserved and rural areas. These student doctors are committed to osteopathic principles serving all communities, particularly those most in need. There is no better way to honor the legacy of Sherry Arnstein.”

Barbee, a member of the LMU-DCOM Class of 2025, is currently in clinical rotations. She was born in rural Arkansas and lived there with her grandparents on and off. She has lived in 13 states, including 16 years in Culpeper, Virginia, another rural town. Barbee earned a Bachelor of Science in biology from Virginia Commonwealth University with minors in chemistry and Spanish. She went on to earn a Master of Science in biomedical sciences and research from Kansas City University in 2021.

Inspired by examples of family members working in health care, Barbee decided to pursue medicine. “I’m naturally curious and love learning so becoming a doctor satisfies my lifelong thirst for knowledge. I also want to inspire other Black people to take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path,” she said.

When it came time to choose a medical school, Barbee only considered osteopathic schools because she liked the non-competitive atmosphere she experienced while attending Kansas City University for her graduate studies. She was drawn to LMU-DCOM in Harrogate due to its rural focus and location. “I grew up in rural Virginia near the mountains and understand how dire the need for quality and accessible health care is for this specific population,” Barbee said. “LMU-DCOM’s mission really resonated with me.”

Recognizing not only the need for diverse physicians but also scientists and researchers representing underrepresented populations, Barbee has pursued opportunities to conduct research throughout her academic career. Last summer, she participated in Duke University’s Office of Physician-Scientist Development Preparing Research scholars in bioMEdical sciences program where she worked on a research project entitled “ITP antibodies mediate complement activation and platelet desialylation.” Barbee worked under the direction of Duke University Medical Center’s Dr. Gowthami Arepally, a hematologist and physician-scientist, who has become a mentor for Barbee.

“Dr. Arepally has inspired me, and I aim to become a physician-scientist with a focus in classical hematology,” Barbee said. “I plan to work in academic medicine and spend 40% of my time in clinic (hopefully rural), 40% in the lab and 20% teaching.”

Barbee will return to Duke next summer to continue research under Arepally.

The Sherry R. Arnstein Underrepresented Minority Student Scholarship was established in honor of Arnstein’s lifelong dedication to public service, social equity and justice. After the initial endowment, AACOM continued funding the program, which has grown steadily since its inaugural grants were awarded. Since 2012, AACOM has awarded more than $250,000 to 66 recipients.

“I would like to thank AACOM for awarding me the 2023 Arnstein Scholarship. This will help alleviate a lot of financial stress going into my last year of medical school,” Barbee said. “I also want to dedicate this award to poor Black kids with dreams bigger than the town they live in. You can, you must, and you will succeed because our community needs us!”