URI student wins early acceptance to Brown University medical school in 2015

KINGSTON, R.I. – Shayla Minteer has a passion for helping other people, both in her daily life and career. Now she’s one step closer to realizing her dream.

The 24-year-old Newport resident has been accepted into Brown University’s Warren Alpert School of Medicine through the URI-Brown University Early Identification Program, which offers early contingent admission to a sophomore from Rhode Island.

Brown’s medical school is highly competitive, so her acceptance puts her among a select group. For example, in the entering class of 2012, with more than 7000 applicants vying for 120 spots, less than a dozen Rhode Islanders were offered a seat.

“My goals are to love others and preserve life,’’ says Minteer. “I can accomplish those goals as a doctor.’’

The prestigious honor is just one of many that Minteer, who is double majoring in general business administration and medical lab science, has received since she enrolled at URI in 2010.

She also won the Frank Navarro Scholarship from the College of Business, which allowed her to quit her day job and focus entirely on her studies – a blessing for someone who moved out of her parents’ house after high school and has been supporting herself since, paying for everything from rent to food.

“I jumped out of my seat when I found out about the Navarro award,’’ says Minteer, who just started her junior year. “It’s been difficult working and going to school. This is amazing.‘’

Minteer has come a long way from her childhood days in Richmond, R.I., the middle of three children born to working-class parents. She was a shy, introverted child who started dancing when she was 5 – ballet, tap, jazz, Irish step. “I loved dancing,’’ she says. “It was a wonderful way to express myself through my body.’’

But she also excelled in the classroom. After graduating near the top of her class at Chariho Regional High School, she decided to work instead of go to college – a decision she does not regret. Working built up her self-esteem, gave her valuable life lessons, and introduced her to mentors she admired and respected.

Over the years, she worked as a software designer and purchasing agent and an IT and accounting assistant. In 2010, she decided it was time to get a college degree and started taking classes on URI’s Providence campus at night so she could work during the day.

“The Navarro scholarship changed my life,’’ she says. “Now I can focus on my studies. I’ve never had a class I didn’t like. At URI, there are so many doors around me and I have this key and can open any door I want.’’

She’s especially proud of her early admission in 2015 to Brown’s medical school, which seeks applicants with intellectual curiosity, clinical or research experience, a commitment to helping others, integrity and enthusiasm.

“It’s a good fit for me, and I’m a good fit for Brown,’’ says Minteer, who wants to be a primary care doctor. “I’m just glad to be a part of the school.’’

To receive URI’s nomination, Minteer submitted an application and was interviewed by URI’s health professions advisory committee. Three others also applied. Of the four, Minteer and one other student were nominated by URI and then interviewed by members of the medical school admissions committee at Brown.

Another one of Minteer’s goals is to help people who have experienced hardship. Thanks to a Michael P. Metcalf Fellow award, Minteer volunteered over the summer in a poor town in Peru helping a gynecology clinic streamline its business practices.

The Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Fund, an endowment established at the Rhode Island Foundation in 1989 to honor the late publisher of The Providence Journal, awards up to $5,000 to Rhode Island college students seeking to pursue an education project through travel.

“It was a really exciting experience,’’ says Minteer, who visited Peru at the same lab in 2012 with a group of URI graduate students studying cytology. “I studied Peru from the point of the people, the environment and health care. I combined my passion for medicine, business and science.’’

Before Peru, Minteer spent three months conducting HIV-related research at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University – a trip partially funded by the URI Honors Program, of which she is a participant.

Minteer was selected from a nationally competitive pool of applicants to join the Bloomberg School’s Diversity Summer Internship Program, a 10-week program that allows undergraduates to do graduate-level independent research. Interns work on a research project with mentors, complete a paper, and deliver a presentation. Assigned to the Rakai Health Sciences Project, Minteer looked at family influences on HIV transmission in Africa and is expected to co-author papers on the subject.

For the second year in a row, Minteer was selected for the Dr. Howard E. ’37 and Dorothy Babcock ’37 Possner Scholarship, an award for a URI pre-med student in good academic standing with financial need.

Despite her heavy off-campus workload, Minteer has emerged as a leader on campus. She was a student ambassador for the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, serving as a peer mentor and representative at recruitment events.

She is the founder of the URI chapter of FACE AIDS, which is affiliated with Paul Farmers’ Partners in Health. In the spring, the URI chapter hosted a Condom Fashion Show – an HIV-prevention charity night – with the Fashion Merchandising Society and the LGBTQ Center. Minteer is also a member of the Rhode Island HIV Prevention Coalition.

Finally, she volunteers at a hospice and the Friend’s Way Bereavement Center, helping children ages 2 to 6 who have lost loved ones.

“Volunteering is precious to me,’’ she says. “It’s an honor to be in situations of pure and open learning and giving and understanding of all types of people. As humans we have an endless capacity for love. So why withhold any of it.’’

Kathleen Maher, assistant director of the Honors Program and chair of the committee that nominated Minteer to Brown, says Minteer represents the best of the best at URI.

“Shayla has taken full advantage of the wide range of opportunities for learning, research, service and leadership available at URI,’’ Maher says. “From here, she has entered the world stage.’’

Pictured above: Shayla Minteer ’15, of Newport, a junior at the University of Rhode Island who has been accepted into Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School through the URI-Brown University Early Identification Program, which offers early contingent admission to a sophomore from Rhode Island. Minteer is a double major: medical lab science and general business administration.


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