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Snow Storms Prove Surmountable
Extramural Associates Winter 2003 Class Graduates

By Gerri Adams-Simmons

The Extramural Associates winter class of 2003 got more than it bargained for with its 5-month NIH residency. Drs. Joe Emily of South Carolina State University; Ellen Shimakawa of Chaminade University of Honolulu; Arlene Horne of New Mexico Highlands University; and Wilfred Resto of the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey could not have guessed their curriculum would include "snow days" and "record-setting" days. Resto will have lifetime memories, since he brought his family with him. His 4-year-old son, Willie, had a continuous joyous refrain — "Is it going to snow again tomorrow?"

Congratulating EA program graduates are (from l) program director Dr. Matthew Kinnard, NICHD deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox and senior advisor to the NIH director Dr. Ruth Kirschstein.

The EAs were determined that the snow would not prevent them from settling down to the innovative curriculum developed by a former EA, Dr. Reuben Wright. Wright, of Prairie View A&M University, is serving on an IPA as special assistant to the program director, Dr. Matthew Kinnard. Allowing no obstacles to impede their progress, the EAs worked through the storms, having their work culminate recently in the first EA program graduation. They were focused on the program goal of increasing the number of minority and women researchers.

NICHD deputy director Dr. Yvonne Maddox realized something special was happening in the EA program when she stated at the program's advisory board meeting, "It is not every program that has a board where people are requesting to extend their period of time to serve." Maddox has nurtured and guided the continuous rise of the program during the three years it has been housed with NICHD. Throughout that time, she emphasized the importance of its trans-NIH quality in impacting health disparities.

Graduates include (from l) Drs. Ellen Shimakawa, Wilfredo Resto, Joe Emily and Arlene Horne.

The Stone House hosted the graduating class and their university officials, including Dr. Rafael Aragunde, chancellor, University of Puerto Rico at Cayey; Dr. Sue Wesselkamper, president, Chaminade University of Honolulu; and Dr. Clarence Sanchez, vice president for academic & student affairs, New Mexico Highlands University. Dr. Ruth Kirschstein, senior advisor to the NIH director, gave the keynote address.

"In just a few short moments," she said, "you will join the elite few who are out there giving their all to increase minority participation in the biomedical and behavioral sciences…Think with gratitude about this opportunity to catapult your institutions into the research arena."

The graduation ceremony gave university officials the opportunity to meet with Maddox, Kinnard and the advisory board, and to hear firsthand of the trans-NIH commitment to the program. "The prevailing and often repeated theme during this meeting was that institutional commitment and continual support of the EAs are the key ingredients for success upon their return to their universities," Kinnard commented. Board members represented 17 NIH components and HHS's Office of Minority Health.

More than 200 EAs have completed the program.

During the recent graduation ceremony, participants (from l) Horne, Emily, Kinnard, Kirschstein, Dr. Reuben Wright, Maddox, Resto and Shimakawa gather for a group photo.

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