Three Overland and Smoky Hill high school seniors make the grade
In the fall, three stand-out scholars from Cherry Creek Schools - Yasmine Dakhama, Sanjana Garimella and Vikasini Mahalingam - will join the unique BA/BS-MD combined degree program at the University of Colorado Denver.
BA/BS-MD program is a partnership between CU Denver’s College of
Liberal Arts and Sciences and the CU School of Medicine. In a highly
competitive selection process, only 10 graduating high school seniors
statewide are accepted into the program annually. This year there were
102 applicants. 45 of those applicants made it as far as the interview
stage. And, a full thirty percent of the BA/BS-MD class of 2017 is
graduating from the Cherry Creek School District.
When Overland High School senior Yasmine Dakhama arrived in the United States at the age of six she didn’t speak English, just French and Arabic. But, even back then, she already had a passion for science and medicine. Dakhama is a volunteer at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Smoky Hill senior Sanjana Garimella, pictured at left, is a first degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and the Youth Coordinator for the Relay for Life of Aurora. When she was young, she and several of her childhood friends started the Lovelets project to support children who are hospitalized.
Fellow Smoky Hill senior Vikasini Mahalingam is a member of Science Bowl, Amnesty International, and the Philosophy Club. She’s already doing research work in neurology and says that is the career path she plans to follow.
Being accepted into the BA/BS-MD combined degree program enables the students to earn a reserved seat in the CU School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus provided she/he meets a specific set of required standards. Students spend the first four years of the eight-year program earning their bachelor’s degree at CU Denver.
Based on her easy relationships with children while working as a lifeguard and teaching swimming, Dakhama plans to be a pediatrician. “The BA/BS-MD program appeals to me because of the linear path it provides to a career in medicine”, she says. “I’m impressed by all the guidance which is built in to the program.”
A history of personal heart problems and a love of children has prompted Garimella to pursue a career in pediatric cardiology. “The CU Denver BA/BS-MD program provides me the opportunity to reach my dream of becoming a doctor and practicing medicine in my home state,” she says. “I am genuinely looking forward to getting started and cannot wait for the day that I am able to treat my first patient.”
For Mahalingam, her anticipated career path in neurology fills her with a rush of excitement. “Currently, neurology is a renewable source of excitement for me,” she explains. “Brains are awesome! I am confident that through the BA/BS-MD program I can achieve my goal of contributing to the human race by becoming a doctor.”
The BA/BS-MD combined degree program is designed to address the healthcare needs of Colorado communities. It focuses on assembling outstanding students with broadly diverse backgrounds who intend to practice medicine in Colorado.
When this year’s class enters CU Denver in the fall, it will include students from the eastern plains, northern Colorado, the mountains, and the Denver metro area. This is the fourth class to start the program. They will enter the School of Medicine in the fall of 2017.
Posted May 8, 2013.