2019 ʻImi Hoʻōla graduates holding their JABSOM acceptance letters.

The newest class at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) begins its studies in July. Nine of the students have completed a grueling year of medical courses, exams and countless small group sessions to earn their status as the first members accepted into the new MD class through the ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program.

On June 13, the students celebrated finishing a yearlong medical school “boot camp” for aspiring physicians who come from disadvantaged or underserved communities. ʻImi Hoʻōla enrolls up to a dozen college graduates each year. After completion of the rigorous program, they earn admission into JABSOM.

“If I didn’t get into ʻImi I don’t know if I would’ve kept trying. I think this has provided me with the foundation that I need,” said Samuel “Kamuela” Andrade, a former lifeguard and firefighter from East Oʻahu.

The graduates:

  • Krystyl Anderson (Okinawan) graduated from Pearl City High School and earned her BS in biology at UH Mānoa.
  • Samuel “Kamuela” Andrade (Hawaiian) graduated from Kamehameha Schools on Oʻahu and earned his BA in ethnic studies at UH Mānoa.
  • Bianca Calio (Filipino) graduated from Sacred Hearts Academy and earned her BS in biology at UH Mānoa.
  • James DeJesus (Hawaiian) attended Kamehameha Schools on Oʻahu and earned his BS in biochemistry from the University of Puget Sound.
  • Weiming Du (Chinese) graduated from Zhongshan No. 1 Middle School and earned his BS in biology at UH Mānoa.
  • Bree Kaneakua (Hawaiian) attended Kamehameha Schools in Keaʻau and earned her BA in psychology from Creighton University.
  • Jenna Maligro (Filipino) graduated from Mililani High School and earned her BS in molecular biology from UH Mānoa.
  • Tana Ramos (Chamorro) graduated from the Academy of Our Lady of Guam and earned her BS in microbiology from the University of California San Diego.
  • Sharon Wong (Vietnamese) graduated from Kaiser High School and earned her BA in biology from UH Mānoa.

In 46 years, ʻImi Hoʻōla (Hawaiian for “those who seek to heal”) has produced 278 doctors, 80 percent of the practicing doctors provide primary care services. Native Hawaiians make up the largest part of the group at 35 percent, followed by Filipinos at 23 percent and 18 percent are Pacific Islanders coming from American Samoa, Guam, Palau and the Marshall Islands.

—By Deborah Manog Dimaya