Chelsea Batista, a senior biology student at Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College, breathed a sigh of relief when she received her first med-school acceptance letter.

“When the first acceptance came in from SUNY Downstate, I thought, ‘Thank goodness, at least now I know I’m going to medical school, no matter what,’” Batista told CUNY Newswire. “But then a few weeks later, more started coming in and I didn’t expect it to be so many.”

If one acceptance was reason to exhale, what happened next was reason to shout, jump up and down, and party. Batista has been accepted to 11 of the 18 medical schools to which she had applied, two of which are offering full-tuition scholarships.

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The schools are: Albert Einstein School of Medicine, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Weill Cornell Medicine, Drexel University College of Medicine, Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, Howard University College of Medicine, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York University, SUNY Downstate College of Medicine, SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine, and Tufts University School of Medicine.

“We are very proud of the remarkable accomplishments of Chelsea, who represents the kind of high-achieving, hard-working, dedicated students who attend Macaulay Honors College,” said Macaulay Dean Mary C. Pearl, Ph.D.

Macaulay students, chosen for stellar high school performance, receive full-tuition scholarships. Thus, students who have the desire and ability to pursue higher education, but who lack the financial means, can still attend college.

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Batista’s parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Both came from poor families and were the first in their families to earn college degrees.

Now, their daughter is going to med school. There will no doubt be more hard work when Batista eventually chooses a school and enrolls, but right now, she’s enjoying the satisfaction of a job well done. “With all that hard work I put in, studying all night – it was worth it,” she said.

Unfortunately, human nature often leads many to diminish the accomplishments of others. Because Batista is Latina, critics wrongfully reduced her outstanding academic record and med-school acceptances to affirmative action.

Batista is unfazed.

“At some points, I had to remind myself that I earned these accomplishments. That I worked just as hard as those around me,” she told the Huffington Post. “I had to remind myself that I was not chosen because I am a Hispanic woman who fulfills the requirements. I was chosen because as a Hispanic woman, I had to struggle through more obstacles and resistance than the typical medical school applicant and I still managed to excel.”

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Latinas composed just 4.8% of medical school applicants in 2016-2017, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.  

Women of all races composed just 38.2% of physicians and surgeons in the US in 2016, while Latinos and Latinas made up 5.9%, the US Bureau of Labor reports.

Though the need for affirmative action is apparent, the stigma associated with it – that it’s reverse racism and that people of color receive unfair benefits – isn’t limited to the medical field. Sonia Sotomayor, for instance, received the same treatment when she was appointed to the Supreme Court.

Regardless of what critics may believe, Batista is on pace to be a doctor in seven years. Her success is a testament to her work ethic and proves what’s possible when people with limited opportunities are given a chance to succeed.


Defeat Poverty

This Latina Scholar Has Been Accepted to 11 Medical Schools

By James O'Hare