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Florida State University’s College of Medicine recently celebrated 30 years of an outreach program that provides career pathways for students who have been underrepresented in medicine and other STEM fields.

FSU marked the milestone at the SSTRIDE Alumni Leadership Conference in Orlando.  (Pronounced “stride,” SSTRIDE stands for Science Students Together Reaching for Diversity and Excellence).  With support from Barancik Foundation, four Booker High School alumnae who are now pursuing undergraduate studies in the sciences were able to attend the conference, where they learned from and connected with medical professionals who can help them as they continue on their bright career paths.

Booker High alums (l to r) Kaley Maze, Ty’Anna Ash, Brianna Witlarge-Isaacs, and Briaih Pearson

Established back in 1993—even before FSU’s College of Medicine!—SSTRIDE identifies underrepresented minority and rural students who are genuinely interested in pursuing a career in medicine or another STEM field, and then provides the support services important for developing the focus, motivation, and responsibility needed for success.  SSTRIDE was expanded to Sarasota County in 2017 with a $500,000 Barancik Foundation grant and now has a presence at McIntosh Middle School, Sarasota High School, and Booker High.

In early December, SSTRIDE gathered alumni from across the country for its three-day leadership conference.  There they shared knowledge and expertise through continuing education seminars, formed mentoring relationships with current medical students and undergrad pre-med students in SSTRIDE, and reconnected with old friends.  Among the attendees were FSU undergrads Kaley Maze, Ty’Anna Ash, and Briaih Pearson and University of Florida student Brianna Witlarge-Isaacs.  All four started the SSTRIDE program back at Booker High School and have since transitioned to the undergraduate SSTRIDE program as they continue on their academic paths.

The gathering’s atmosphere was more joyous family reunion than buttoned-down professional development conference.  “The first thing we had to do when we created SSTRIDE was make the students realize they were part of a family that was here for them,” said Dr. Thesla Anderson, SSTRIDE’s founder and now executive director of undergraduate outreach and pre-college programs for the College of Medicine.  For the four young Sarasota students, it was a full-circle opportunity to meet physicians who started in the same place they did and share similar experiences on their career journey.

About Barancik Foundation

The Charles and Margery Barancik family has long believed in the power of philanthropy to shape our world and enrich the lives of all people. It was the expression of this belief that led them in 2014 to establish Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation—a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida.

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The Barancik Foundation does not accept unsolicited requests for funding.

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