2007 Minority Scholars Award Recipient
On April 15, 2008, second year Native American medical student Charles (Chuck) Branch honored others at a special event that originally was planned to honor him. Branch was the recipient of the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation's prestigious Minority Scholars Award in 2007 and Candy Adams, representing the American Medical Association, visited the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, to publicly recognize his achievement.
Branch hosted a traditional Native American feast and "give-away" to recognize those people who helped him during his first two years of school. "In my culture, when we reach milestones or receive an honor, we have a give-away to honor those who have been influential in helping us reach that goal. In doing so, we focus attention on the community in order to recognize the importance of community in our personal lives," Branch explained.
Candy Adams, president of the Minnesota Medical Association Alliance, who represented the American Medical Association, presented Branch with a plaque in recognition of his achievement. The AMA Alliance is a large public health advocacy network of physicians and physicians spouses and provides a substantial amount of support each year for scholarships.
The event also included Branch's personal give-away, a presentation of his personal gifts and a special performance by the Onigamising Singers from the Grant Elementary Magnet School and Lincoln Park Elementary School where Branch has been mentoring the students in Native singing.
The Minority Scholars Award Program is one of the AMA Foundation's initiatives aimed at decreasing student debt and encouraging diversity in the medical profession. In collaboration with the AMA Minority Affairs Consortium and with support from the Pfizer Medical Humanities Initiative, the Foundation awarded 11 Minority Scholar Awards in 2007.
Deborah Powell, M.D., dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School, also attended the event. "Our Medical School seeks to attract and to support American Indian men and women as future physicians who will integrate traditional ways with Western medicine. We prepare them to serve the critical health needs of our communities in Minnesota and the region. Chuck Branch is a wonderful example; he carries a fire for American Indian culture and health in everything he does," she said.
Branch was the only Native American to receive the Minority Scholars Award in 2007 and only one other Native American student had received the award since it was established in 2004. According to the AMA Foundation, the selection committee chose Branch because of his commitment to improving minority health status, community involvement, scholastic achievement and financial need. Branch is Western Band Cherokee and Catawba Shawnee.