SOUTH LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science celebrated a major accomplishment Tuesday morning. Beginning July of 2023, the historically Black institution located in Willowbrook, Calif., will offer a four-year doctor of medicine degree.
"This means that students from all over the country, especially those from this community of Los Angeles, students from Compton, Willowbrook, Watts, Lynwood, will have a place to come to become medical physicians," said Dr. David Carlisle, CDU's president and CEO.
School leaders said the new program was years in the making and couldn't have been achieved without the support from so many. The program will start with an initial class of 60 students.
"If we don't train Black and brown people to occupy roles that they desire, we're losing out as an entire community. There's so much talent here," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, LA County Directory of Public Health.
This new program is the first and only four-year medical degree offered by a historically Black institution west of the Mississippi. It'll also be only one of four historical Black institutions to offer a medical degree joining Howard, Meharry and Morehouse University.
"We're going to start here and we're going to reach the world and I am over-elated," said Dr. Rasheed Ivey, a CDU alum. "I didn't know that I would experience something like this in my lifetime."
Part of the school's mission is to prepare doctors to work in underserved communities and faculty and students agree that this new program brings them closer to accomplishing that goal.
"There were large distances between this community and the closest health care center and that's where MLK rose and that's where Drew also rose," said Allison Leggett, a fourth year CDU and UCLA medical student. "So, this is the first time and this is literally history in the making that we're going to have a medical school in South Central."
The university is already accepting applications for the new program.
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