2021 Postbac Class Day Speakers Announced

Dean James Colgrove has announced the featured speakers for the 2021 Postbaccalaureate Premedical Class Day ceremony. The Class Day Keynote Speaker will be Dr. Ashley Paige Oliver. The Class Day Student Speaker will be Chelsia Melendez.

March 31, 2021
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Dear Students,

I am pleased to announce that the keynote speaker for the 2021 Columbia University Postbac Premed Program Class Day is Dr. Ashley Paige Oliver.

Dr. Ashley Paige Oliver

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Ashley Paige Oliver

Dr. Oliver is a chief resident in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at the University of California San Francisco. She is pursuing a career in adult cardiothoracic surgery anesthesia and her research interests lie in education, health disparities among heart and lung transplant populations, and medicine and social justice movements.

Dr. Oliver is a graduate of the Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons where she served as a curricular class representative and on medical education committees, as well as the president of the Black and Latino Student Organization. She is also an alumnus of the Columbia Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program, where she served as the president of the Postbac Premedical Association (now the Postbac Premed Student Council [PPSC]).

Prior to her career in medicine, Dr. Oliver worked at human rights and educational not-for-profits including Human Rights Watch and Facing History and Ourselves. She graduated from The University of Chicago in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in cinema and media studies and also studied film and media studies at The University of California, Berkeley.

She is the partner to an audio engineer, whose work includes The Nocturnists, a podcast that elevates the human stories in healthcare and which feeds Dr. Oliver’s continued interest in narrative medicine. Their lively children include Julian, age three, and Marcus, seven months.

Chelsia Melendez

Student Speaker

Chelsia Melendez

This year's student speaker will be Postbac Premed graduate Chelsia Melendez. Chelsia was raised in New Jersey by a single mom and her grandma. She is a second-generation daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic and identifies as an Afro-Latina. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and international studies from American University in Washington, D.C.

Before entering the Postbac Premed Program, she worked as a sustainability and social responsibility analyst for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and volunteered as a doula in Southeast D.C. In both these roles, she advocated for the economic empowerment of the communities the businesses served, and she advocated for the reproductive care of underserved single moms.

During her undergraduate studies, she worked with Cuban asylum seekers and bilingual janitorial staff at her university to help them obtain their citizenship and feel welcomed in their new homes. Through her community work and advocacy for the immigrant, refugee, and asylum communities, she received a Latino Engagement Award from American University. Chelsia decided to pursue a career in medicine because she wanted her career to focus on people’s wellbeing. Her interest continues to be centered on immigrant and refugee health and working with historically underserved populations.

During her time in the Postbac Premed Program, Chelsia volunteered as a health educator for Project STAY, a community clinic that serves justice-involved youth, LGBTQ, homeless, and underserved adolescents in NYC. Additionally, Chelsia is the co-president of the Social Justice Medicine organization and serves on the PPSC as vice president of community relations. Most notably, she co-created the School of General Studies’ first Underrepresented in Medicine Summer Program to help underserved students transition into Columbia’s rigorous program. Chelsia was recently accepted to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai through linkage and will be starting medical school in the fall.

I look forward to celebrating with you Tuesday, April 27.

Please note: students participating in Postbac Class Day recently received an email from MARCHINGORDER with information regarding event registration. Please check your inbox for this email and refer to the Postbac Class Day webpage to learn additional details about this event.

Best wishes,

James Colgrove
Dean of the Postbaccalaureate Premedical Program
Columbia University School of General Studies