… people need to be able to see what other people have done in order to believe they can do it, especially when few people look like them in a certain field.”

Dale Okorodudu, M.D.

Pulmonary and critical care physician and founder of Black Men in White Coats

UT Southwestern Medical Center


UNR Med wants undergraduate students to see who they can be

By Christy Jerz '97 | Nevada Silver & Blue | Winter 2022

With a commitment to helping underrepresented students prepare for medical school, the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine is developing expanded pathways to medicine.

Inspired by the film “Black Men in White Coats” — where Black doctors shared the difficulties of pursuing a profession in which they rarely saw physicians who looked like them — the See It To Be It initiative provides opportunities for undergraduate pre-med students to connect and engage with medical students and physicians from underrepresented groups and medically underserved communities.

Supported by generous funding from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Nevada, See It To Be It is made up of four elements that support undergraduates in preparing for the medical school admissions process:

Annual summit

This event brings together pre-med students, physicians and health care advocates committed to broadening diversity, inclusion and equity in medicine to better serve Nevada’s diverse populations. At our inaugural summit on Oct. 16, undergraduates — 75% of them first-generation college students — spent the day learning from 30 current UNR Med medical students and hearing about their own pathways to medicine.

Community network

We’re building a committee of community leaders, health care advocates, physicians and medical students who will meet regularly to discuss the needs of our See It To Be It students and help develop resources and solutions.

Monthly podcast

Featuring key stakeholders and influencers — including physicians, medical students, educators and public health officials — See2B will amplify messages about visibility and representation while inspiring continued conversations.

Mentor program

As we build connections, we’ll grow an existing mentor program, hosted by our Latino Medical Student Association, which pairs first-generation, pre-med students with a “triad” of support by adding a physician and a community member to their mentor team.

And be sure to visit med.unr.edu/NSB to meet two of our See It To Be It mentors — second -year medical student Sonia Figueroa and first-year medical student Steven Christian. You’ll be amazed by the role mentorship played in their own paths to medicine.

Meet Our Students

Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Medical Student
Class of 2025
Hometown: Richmond, California
B.A. Psychology (neuroscience emphasis), University of Hawai’i
M.A. Interdisciplinary Studies, Oregon State

Sonia Figueroa

Sonia Figueroa

Medical Student
Class of 2024
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
B.A. Biology, Nevada State College

Steven Christian Interview

Q: Tell us about your early role models.

"Growing up, my role models were athletes and my dad. That was just what you would expect from a young Black male coming from a not so well off place. It wasn't until I got older that I got the opportunity to interact with Black physicians or any sort of scientists that looked like me."

Sonia Figueroa Interview

Q: Tell us about your early role models.

"Being raised by a single mother reinforced the idea that even though I'm a woman who's aspiring to be something like a doctor, I shouldn't let the obstacles in my way deter me from reaching those goals."

By supporting Pathways to Medicine, a multi-faceted approach to encourage and prepare underrepresented students to pursue the field of medicine, you’ll help future doctors pursue their dreams.

To learn more about the School of Medicine’s Pathway to Medicine Fund contact Laurice Antoun-Becker, senior director of development, at (775) 682-6077