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Not many people would decide to hike Mount Everest for the first time without some support, be it from fellow climbers, guides, resources, or information from others who have gone along the journey already. The Leadership and Enrichment for Academic Diversity (L.E.A.D.) program at Michigan provided a few of us M0s an early start on our journey into medical school. We were exposed to the learning environment while meeting some classmates and building a support system that will help us navigate through the hills and valleys of medical school. We got to see the unique abilities, talents and stories of some of our classmates, all while getting close and building some early skills in the anatomy lab.

The early start put many of us at ease by providing insights into class materials as well as resources that other students in the program may have had coming in. Special lectures from faculty and administration at UMMS about leadership, health care inequalities and mentorship gave us tools to manage obstacles that may come up throughout medical school. We built upon our leadership skills, bolstered our professionalism, and built an understanding about what it means to combat health disparities throughout our careers. We are all inspired by the commitment the Office for Health Equity and Inclusion (OHEI) has towards combating inequity in the health care system.

I would not be where I am at today without the great mentors I have had throughout my life. My mentors have been football coaches, weightlifting coaches, an organic chemistry professor, and many more. L.E.A.D. paired each of us with an M1 who will be our mentor throughout medical school. I know and feel that I can reach out to him at any time with questions, concerns, or just to chat about Michigan football. In tandem with our student mentorship, we received educational mentorship thanks to the Office of Medical Student Education. We learned about the curriculum, study skills and resources, and support available to us as we work toward our medical degrees.

Many of us enjoyed going out with others from the program to get food, drinks, and play some IM soccer. It is nice to know that going into Launch we will all have some familiar faces and connections to other members of our class. We are all very grateful for the great program that the Office of Admissions and Office for Health Equity and Inclusion worked hard to put together. We look forward to paying it back throughout our years here. Thank you for reading and as always, Go Blue!

Quintin Solano is an incoming medical student in the Class of 2022. He has a passion for nutrition education amongst students, physicians, and patients as well as an interest in orthopedic surgery. You can find him at the gym and playing sports!