January 12, 2021

Peer Mentors of the Year recognized

Abigail Kumagai, Marla Rojas Thaureaux and Renieh Nabaty

Three Wayne State University School of Medicine medical students have been named the first ever Peer Mentors of the Year for their work in assisting incoming students to be successful throughout medical school.

Abigail Kumagai was named Mentor of the Year. Marla Rojas Thaureaux and Renieh Nabaty were named Honorary Mentors of the Year by the School of Medicine’s Learning Communities. All three are second-year medical students.

The three were singled out for the new honor by the first-year medical students that they advise.

LaToya Sherman, department coordinator of the Office of Learning and Teaching, said that as the mentoring program continues to evolve, the best practices of Kumagai, Thaureaux and Nabaty will be incorporated.

The peer mentor program provides upper-class students to guide, encourage and engage first-year students as they acclimate to medical school. The peer mentors include their mentees in diverse student interactions, and demonstrate leadership through professionalism, networking and empowerment, all of which enhances student satisfaction, Sherman said.

Kumagai, Thaureaux and Nabaty volunteered to serve as peer mentors. While the program later secured an award to compensate them for their initial year of mentorship, Sherman said the three asked to continue the work the following year regardless of compensation.

The School of Medicine Physicians-in-Training Learning Communities support and encourage networking, coaching, professional identity and empowerment. The complementary Peer Mentor Program and the mentor-mentee relationships allow the Learning Communities to pave a smooth path in the transition from undergraduate to medical education by creating a culture of openness, safety and support.

Peer mentors are trained and certified as medical student leaders via International Peer Training Program Certification. They learn team building and communication skills, and are well-versed in socio-economic and political issues in medicine as it relates to advocacy and urban clinical education.