Medical student honored as one of ‘29 Who Shine’

Abraham Jaffe receives award for academic excellence and civic achievements

By Jim Fessenden

UMass Medical School Communications

May 09, 2012
  Abraham Jaffe

UMass Medical School student Abraham Jaffe, SOM ’12, was named by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education as one of its “29 Who Shine” honorees. These awards honor 29 outstanding public college and university graduates, one from each community college, state university and UMass campus in the state, for their academic achievement and community service.

Jaffe, who will graduate on June 3 and will do a surgical residency at UMass Memorial Medical Center, will be recognized at the second annual “29 Who Shine” Student Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, May 10, at noon at the Grand Staircase of the Massachusetts State House.

While a medical student at UMMS, Jaffe also received an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a year-long fellowship awarded to individuals dedicated to and skilled in addressing the health needs of underserved communities. As his fellowship project, Jaffe helped design and open a free health clinic for the underserved African immigrant community in Worcester, where he coordinated student and community volunteers and helped to create a board of directors for the organization.

Jaffe has volunteered at the African Children’s Education Program as a tutor; served on the UMMS Student Body Committee; and helped raise more than $10,500 for local charities. He was president of the International Student Interest Group and led a group of 11 medical and nurse practitioner students on a medical mission trip to Guatemala. Working under the supervision of a Guatemalan doctor, he volunteered in urban and rural clinics, gaining an understanding of medical care in a developing country.

Jaffe completed the four-year “Pathways Program on Serving Underserved and Multicultural Populations,” which allows students to learn about underserved communities by studying language and culture in the preclinical years, traveling to underserved areas for cultural immersion and clinical electives and participating in relevant clinical assignments. Through this program, he traveled to Mali, West Africa, as a 2008 King Shaw Fellow, where he helped to organize and run the first pilot program for the One Laptop Per Child initiative in that country.

Following the successful completion of his third year, Jaffe extended his clinical years by one year in order to do research and international work. He conducted independent research under the supervision of Ulises Torres Cordero, MD, assistant professor of surgery, and was first author on the paper “Laparoscopic Colon Resection in Blunt Trauma: A Safe Option” and traveled to Peru to complete a clinical rotation in general surgery at the Hospital Maria Auxiliadora in Lima, an urban hospital serving an extremely impoverished area of the city.

A 2002 graduate of Oberlin College, Jaffe served as captain of the men’s soccer team and was awarded the Jason Chicoine Memorial Athlete-Leadership Scholarship during his undergraduate years. While completing a double major in history and biology, he conducted research in evolutionary biology on brain pathways in frogs. Following graduation, Jaffe worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club, conducting search and rescue missions in the White Mountains, before moving to New York City where he was an EMT for three years.

Each of Massachusetts’ 29 public college and university campuses selected its “29 Who Shine” awardees based on criteria established by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education. Students were required to be residents of Massachusetts who had a strong academic record and a history of civic engagement.

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