Guidance groups created by students shine through UMass LIGHT

Three student groups at UMass Chan Medical School have collaborated on a mentorship program called UMass LIGHT (The Leadership Institute for Growth, Health, and Transformation). The goals of UMass LIGHT are to increase diversity, equality and inclusion; promotion of career growth; And creating opportunities for professional development through mentorship and community events. On Saturday, May 14, UMass LIGHT will host its first conference at the Beechwood Hotel across from the Worcester Medical School campus.

Nina Uchi and Daniel Ogochukwu

UMass LIGHT, which pairs students with faculty, includes programs originally established by the UMass Chan chapters of the National Student Medical Association (SNMA), the American Women’s Medical Association (AMWA) and the MD/PhD program. Organizers say UMass LIGHT has grown since its inception last year to include more than 300 students and faculty.

“There aren’t a lot of places where underrepresented students can have casual conversations with people who have a lot of experience in the field to find support about the finer things—things that aren’t necessarily tests and step-by-step things, but how, say, looking for opportunities, ‘ said Ushishi Nna, a student at T-chan School of Medicine.

Nna, a former SNMA board member, came up with the idea for UMass LIGHT with fellow medical student Daniel Ugochukwu.

“We were thinking about how to leave a lasting impact on the school, and we thought about mentoring and how there isn’t a lot of mentoring for minority students here,” Ogochukwu said.

The groups work with Mark Johnson, MD, PhD, and Maroun Semaan Chair for Neurosurgery, Chair and Professor of Neurosurgery and Vice President of Guidance, Leadership and Transformation at UMass Chan University. Dr. Johnson has been working with other UMass Chan leaders to establish the Institute for Guidance and Leadership since his appointment as Senior Vice President last year.

“During the pandemic, I think it has become very clear to many of us that we need to be more connected,” Johnson said. “The goal of the institute is to help students and faculty reach their full potential, and to help them be more connected and feel more included at UMass Chan.”

The conference will take place on Saturday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and speakers will include Mary Ann, MD, professor of psychiatry and deputy undersecretary for faculty affairs; Rick Sontag, MBA, founder and president of the Sontag Foundation, which aims to improve the quality of life for brain tumor patients; Terence R. Flott, MD, and Celia and Isaac Haidik Professor, Executive Vice-Chancellor, Dean and Dean of TH Chan College of Medicine; and Jack Rossin, presentation coach and coach at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Participants will also have opportunities to develop leadership and mentorship skills.

AMWA medical student Niharika Karidi and MD/PhD students Melanie Barbini and Michela Oster contributed to the event.

Those interested can attend the event Register here. Additional information is available on the UMass LIGHT website. Questions can be directed to

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UMass Medical School holds first color-guidance learners
Mark Johnson appointed Senior Vice Dean of Consulting for Guidance, Leadership and Transformation