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A Dream Come True

Last month, I had the pleasure of formally dedicating our new Interprofessional Health Sciences (IHS) campus in Nutley and Clifton, New Jersey. The ceremony was the culmination of a long effort to create a path-breaking medical school and provide an innovative, interdisciplinary home for our students in nursing and health and medical sciences. I consider us fortunate to have been blessed with strong partners at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Over the summer, the College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences moved to the new campus, where they joined the inaugural medical school class of 60 students selected from more than 2,100 applicants. Twenty percent of the class is drawn from communities that are underrepresented among the ranks of physicians. Overall, the future doctors speak 25 languages, including Arabic, Spanish, Russian, Hindi, Urdu and Korean, and include two practicing registered nurses, five students with master’s degrees in public health or science, and a graduate of an ROTC program in California. Half of the students come from New Jersey and nearly half are women. Five students in the inaugural class are Seton Hall alumni.

In addition to addressing the shortage of physicians in New Jersey and across the nation, the new campus was conceived to provide tangible benefits to the University. Those benefits include strengthening the quality of incoming undergraduate classes, enhancing our academic programs, and creating unique solutions to space constraints on the South Orange campus. I am pleased to tell you that the University has achieved all of those objectives.

By stipulating that a quarter of all medical school spaces will be reserved for Seton Hall graduates, we have laid the groundwork for stronger freshman classes on the South Orange campus. That includes this fall’s incoming class, which is not only our largest, at more than 1,500 students, but also boasts a 1230 SAT average — the highest in University history. Meanwhile, the College of Nursing and School of Health and Medical Sciences are guaranteed clinical placements at all of Hackensack Meridian’s medical facilities, including some of New Jersey’s top hospitals. This will substantially enhance the educational experience for our students. With the College of Nursing and the School of Health and Medical Sciences now on the IHS campus, additional academic and administrative space was made available in South Orange.

Though these achievements are worthwhile and a cause for congratulations, even more important are the ways in which Seton Hall’s future doctors, nurses and other health professionals will improve the world as servant healers. A wonderful example is medical student Christopher DaCosta, who is the third generation of his family to pursue a medical career at Seton Hall.

His grandfather, Dr. Theodore A. DaCosta Sr., was part of the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry’s inaugural class in 1956 and had the honor of “coating” Christopher at our new medical school’s white coat ceremony in July. Christopher’s father, Dr. Theodore A. DaCosta Jr., received an undergraduate degree in biology from Seton Hall. From 1996 to 2015, he served the University as an associate program director in the School of Health and Medical Sciences and received the University’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2013. Christopher’s mother, Judith E. DaCosta, Ph.D., received a graduate degree in biology from Seton Hall, and several other family members have earned degrees from the University.

I will close this message with a few words from Christopher about what it means to be a Seton Hall doctor (see gray box on the right). His testimony speaks volumes about the truly transformative impact our University has — and will continue to have — on people’s lives and the world at large. Go Pirates!

Caring for the Underserved
I was elated to be accepted into the inaugural class because I was truly amazed at everything this medical school has to offer. It has a state-of-the-art program with an incredible dean whose caring and compassionate spirit for the underserved mirrors that of my own family.

My grandfather was raised in Jamaica and had very little, yet he had the courage to come to America. Despite working full time, he managed to fulfill his dream by graduating from the Seton Hall College of Medicine and Dentistry with an M.D. in its charter class. My grandfather always talks about his amazing classmates and how tight-knit the class was; they keep in touch with each other even today.

He focused his career on caring for the underserved and instilled in me the importance of helping people who are in need. Following in my grandfather’s footsteps means the world to me. Having the beginning of my journey coincide with the end of his career is bittersweet, as he retired after he coated me. I hope to carry on my family’s legacy of caring for the underserved, as my grandfather and father have done.

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