SUMMER: Katen Scholar’s Program

This summer, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Katen Scholar’s Program here at the University of Chicago. This program is funded by Karen Katen, a Booth alumna, board of trustees member and former President of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals and as well as other positions within Pfizer before her retirement. The application process is done through the UCHIP office in the spring and was such a great use of my summer.

The program entails four key activities: 1. Research (pretty much any kind regarding health) 2. Reading about health (as this topic is incredibly broad) 3. Civic engagement 4. The creation of a poster and symposium.


Applying for Katen is a very smart thing to do because they are looking for a diverse and intelligent group of scholars, it will give you  distinction within the University of Chicago and a special relationship with the UCIHP staff! Katen also gave my PI and post doc the push to provide me with my own project which I am still working on. I was not sure how much I liked research until I did this program because I never worked independently. Now, I know that I do!


In our weekly seminars, we read so much about health care in the United States, and I learned about the Affordable Care Act just days before it was upheld by the Supreme Court. Katen has really taught me that health is vast. And, much of it is socially and economically determined. The feeling of safety while jogging around the neighborhood, the number of teeth we have by the time we’re 40, and the ability to both understand and communicate with one’s doctor have much to do with where we come from, what we believe, and where we look like. Originally, my understanding of health disparities was based on racial and socioeconomic determinants. Now, I have learned about the “forgotten minorities” which include former and current prison inmates (especially pregnant women), veterans, the LBGT community and the mentally ill. Gaining this knowledge will only make you a more culturally competent pre-med, interviewee and future physician!


This summer, we also volunteered at Eden Place, a community garden on the South side. This “Eden” was created in order to be a safe place for children in a once dangerous neighborhood. It was exciting to garden, babysit and maintain such a wonderful place!


Lastly, we made posters (which can be viewed in the UCHIP office) and presented them at our final research symposium. The exercise of not only making the poster but also learning how to present it was so very worthwhile.


The Katen Scholar’s Program provides a space for about ~14 selected students to become close friends. We bonded over our weekly reading seminars, project proposals, yoga + boxing lessons, and field trips to the Museum of Surgical Sciences!

There is a handsome stipend and lots of flexibility regarding where you can live over the summer.

If you have any questions, let me know! I will be involved in the application processes this coming spring!


Tolu Rosanwo


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