Lehman’s Chemistry Department Recognized for Successful Pre-Med Program

By Beauty Kolade

Ezekiel Olumuiyide working with a High Performance Liquid Chromatography machine. Photo by Beauty Kolade.

Lehman’s pre-med program was recently ranked 16th out of the 20 best pre-med college programs, according to onlinecollegeplan.com. Lehman was the only CUNY school featured in these rankings, as published on Jan. 9, and its Bachelor of Science in chemistry was named the best of all its pre-med programs. 

“51 percent of all of [Lehman’s] pre-med students were accepted into medical schools like New York Medical College, Touro, George Washington and SUNY Downstate,” said Dr. Scott Calvin, the senior advisor at Lehman’s pre-health program. “This percentage is higher than the national average of students applying to U.S. medical schools, which is around 40 percent. I have seen the program growing ever since I’ve been working.”  

According to Calvin, pre-med students comprise nearly half of the 975 students active in Lehman’s pre-health program, which also includes tracks, such as pre-dentistry and pre-pharmacy. Of the 443 pre-med students, 43 are chemistry majors. 

Pamela Mills, Interim Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences and former chair of the chemistry department, credits innovative pedagogy as one source of the program’s acknowledged excellence. “Lehman received this recognition as a result of collaborative effort between both the instructors and students who performed their respective duties,” Mills said. 

One innovation that she and chemistry professor Donna McGregor brought up is the flipped classroom teaching style to the program. “The flipped classroom system was my main contribution; it involves students watching relevant topic videos posted online, participating in answering class questions using iClicker, and getting help from assistants during class and at office hours when necessary,” said Mills. “Our goal was to make the class an active learning site for students. Active learning is like playing an instrument, you’ve got to practice to progress and be ready for the concert which is the exam.”

“The chemistry department has provided me with the opportunity to obtain the research I crave and intend to utilize when I get into medical school.” 

– Lamount Evanson, 20, Lehman sophomore chemistry major

McGregor recalled, “Five years before my arrival in 2015, the average GPA for the traditional teaching style in general chemistry I and II was 1.65 and 1.81 respectively. After the introduction of the flipped classroom method of teaching, the average GPA from 2015 to 2017 increased to 2.74 and 2.67 for both classes respectively [and] the pass rate increased by 40 percent and 35.5 percent in both classes.”

Several chemistry majors told The Meridian that they agree wholeheartedly with the department’s recent accolades. “I was not surprised with this news because in my opinion, compared to other departments, the Chemistry department has taken a forefront at representing Lehman,” said Andre Ferguson, who graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry. 

“The department is growing. For instance, there are now more teacher assistants for chemistry courses, compared to when I was an undergraduate at Lehman,” he added. “I was able to become a scientist while I was a student at Lehman by gaining wet lab experience, participating in presentations and also attending research lectures. Now I’m an adjunct professor at Lehman and this experience will help me learn and improve skills that will help me in medical school.” 

Sophomore chemistry major Lamount Evanson, 20, also praised the department for giving students the chance to work as teaching assistants. Evanson, a chemistry TA, explained: “This experience will contribute to my preparation for the MCAT, a standardized test needed for admissions to medical school. As an international student, there not many research opportunities outside of campus that I am eligible for. However, the chemistry department has provided me with the opportunity to obtain the research I crave and intend to utilize when I get into medical school.”

“The chemistry department is very supportive regardless of a student’s performance in class,” said sophomore Ezekiel Olumuyide, 18, a chemistry major and aspiring physician. “The professors there…are always involved in helping students, making chemistry easy for us to understand… and give students the opportunity to gain a high yield of undergraduate experience.”