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Promoting Diversity Through Scholarship

James and Nancy Baxter first came to Jefferson in 1979, where their son, Andy, was born and treated for persistent fetal circulation in the NICU. The kindness and compassion shown to them by the doctors and nurses was not soon forgotten.

Now, 40 years later, the Baxters have chosen to repay this kindness with a $2 million donation to provide eight scholarships—split between the 2020 and 2021 classes—for medical students from underrepresented groups to promote diversity at Jefferson.

One such recipient of a Baxter Family Scholarship is Lauren Coaxum, a Sidney Kimmel Medical College (SKMC) student from the class of 2020 specializing in emergency medicine.

Coaxum was interested in science from a very young age, and this interest turned to inspiration after watching her childhood physician. Seeing a black woman in that role empowered Coaxum, and she decided then—as an awestruck 5-year-old—that she would grow up to be a doctor.

This experience came full circle for Lauren during one of her overnight rotations in the ER. Tired and stressed, Lauren went in to check on a patient: an older black woman. As the patient awoke, she started praising Lauren for the work she was doing and encouraging her to keep going.

It really inspired me,” Lauren says. “It reminded me that it’s not very often that she sees people that look like her taking care of her.”

While Lauren’s dedication to healthcare has never faltered, there were times when she felt the overwhelming cost of medical school. The Baxter Family Scholarship was able to ease that burden, and allow Coaxum to focus on her studies and her patients.

“It means so much to me and my family,” Lauren says. “I’ve wanted to do this for pretty much my whole life, and to know that these amazing people are out there to help me on my path is just incredible. It’s humbling, it’s inspiring, and it helps keep me motivated.”

The Baxters’ dedication to promoting diversity and medical education reaches beyond the halls of Sidney Kimmel Medical College. Additional funds have been allocated in support of two student-pipeline programs: the Summer Training and Enrichment Program for Underrepresented Persons in medicine (STEP-UP) and the Saturday Academy.

STEP-UP is a highly selective enrichment program dedicated to providing students from traditionally underrepresented groups with the opportunity to gain valuable experience as they prepare for medical school. This includes MCAT prep, workshops, mock interviews, and approximately 60 hours of clinical shadowing.  

Jefferson’s Saturday Academy provides extracurricular STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education to seventh and eighth graders. The goal of the Saturday Academy is to inspire the next generation’s healthcare professionals and provide resources to marginalized groups that might not have access otherwise.

The Baxters are hopeful that their contribution will help reduce health disparities in the city and inspire the next generation of physicians. James and Nancy stand with Jefferson—as partners and friends—on our mission to reimagine the future of healthcare and education in Philadelphia.