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Two Whitworth Act Six scholars selected for prestigious medical internships

May 18, 2011

Gifti Abbo
Two Whitworth Act Six Scholars were recently confirmed in the highly-competitive Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP). As part of the program, Gifti Abbo will conduct an internship at the University of Louisville, and Helya Peyman will conduct her internship at the University of Washington.

SMDEP is a free six-week academic enrichment program that offers underrepresented freshman and sophomore college students intensive and personalized medical and dental school preparation. The program is funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with direction and assistance by The Association of American Medical Colleges and The American Dental Education Association.

Abbo and Peyman, both freshmen, will get to shadow doctors, volunteer in hospitals and take classes. They are the first Act Six students to participate in the SMDEP.

"This is a great recognition for our students as this is a competitive internship, says Esther Louie, assistant dean of intercultural student affairs. "Gifti and Helya initiated this search which demonstrates their focus and passion to gain hands-on experience in the medical field."

Abbo says she has wanted to become a doctor after a trip Ethiopia to visit relatives.

"Ultimately, I want to live in Ethiopia as a traveling missionary doctor," Abbo says. "That has been a calling God put on my heart when I was 13."

Abbo is excited to travel to the south and to experience a different part of the U.S. She also hopes to meet other like-minded students with similar career goals.

"I hope going on this program will solidify my interest in becoming a doctor," Abbo says.

Helya Peyman
Peyman, who is majoring in chemistry, says she's excited to advance in her career aspirations.

"I hope to gain medical experience and most of all gain many new friends," Peyman says. "This program is also about learning different cultures and how to interact with people from different cultures."

Abbo and Peyman are student scholars in The Act Six Leadership & Scholarship Initiative. Launched in 2002 by the Northwest Leadership Foundation, in Tacoma, Act Six seeks to develop urban and community leaders to be agents of transformation on campus and in their home communities.

Whitworth was the first university to launch an Act Six affiliate in 2002 and supports the program as part of its longstanding commitment to be a place where the richness of an education of mind and heart is available to all people. Act Six scholars at Whitworth participate and lead in athletics, community service, international study abroad programs, music, student leadership and enriching campus discourse inside and outside the classroom.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Emily Proffitt, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703, or