LEAGUES Fellowship

Leadership Exposure for the Advancement of Gender and Underrepresented Minority Equity in Surgery

LEAGUES Fellowship 2021 Scholars: Michelle Vallejo-Slinger (Drexel Univ. College of Medicine), Nhi Nguyen (Boston Univ. School of Medicine), Joanna Chen (Univ. of Toledo School of Medicine), Samantha Cooley (Kansas City Univ. of Medicine)
2021 Scholars: Michelle Vallejo-Slinger (Drexel University College of Medicine), Nhi Nguyen (Boston University School of Medicine), Joanna Chen (University of Toledo School of Medicine), Samantha Cooley (Kansas City University of Medicine)


The LEAGUES Fellowship is a summer experience open to all medical students between their first and second years of matriculation in medical school. It aims to provide an early introduction to procedural specialties and their key role in advancing women and underrepresented minority clinicians in our country, surgical research with a focus on healthcare outcomes and policy, and trainee level advocacy for the medical rights of marginalized communities. The fellowship includes 4 positions available per year to complete a four-week immersive introduction to academic surgery and Michigan Medicine. This program is the first of its kind and aims to become the premier model for academic surgery programs looking to create a pipeline of socially conscious and diverse surgical residents through early mentorship and recruitment interventions.

Following local and national guidelines and given the fast-evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, our 2021 LEAGUES programming will be held in a virtual format. The experience will encompass the research, scholarship, and advocacy components of our original in-person program. LEAGUES was originally designed as a residential professional development program, and it is our hope we can resume in-person activities for the fellowship in 2022.

Goals & Objectives

Our goal is to foster the development of future surgeons with a belief in the importance of diversity, gender equality, inclusion, and health equity for patients, students, and professionals in academic surgery through exposure and mentorship within a large academic surgery center while gaining research experience, surgical skills, professional development, and networking.

  • Mentorship: Each student will be assigned to a research mentor within our surgery department who will in turn oversee the participation of the student in a short-term research project. These ventures will be identified ahead of time for feasibility within the timeline of the fellowship.
  • Research and Academic Opportunities: The scholars will have an expected 40 hr/week commitment which should be largely dedicated to working on their selected project. Seminars will be hosted by the Department of Surgery and will cover topics on leadership, advocacy, career development, application strategies, and opportunities within academic surgery.
  • Clinical Experience: Two bi-weekly shadowing half-days will be embedded in the scholar’s schedule to experience select surgical subspecialties. For our scholars completing the experience in a virtual format, exposure to different surgical specialties will be provided through a combination of small group sessions with surgical faculty and interactive surgical cases led by residents.

Lecture Series

LEAGUES gives fellows the opportunity to attend lectures presented by faculty members and trainees on a variety of topics related to academic surgery, ranging from discussions of advocacy, productivity, and mentorship. LEAGUES is committed to the success of all students affected by the widespread cancellation of summer opportunities. Thus, we will be providing access to recordings of our lecture series.


The LEAGUES Fellowship is open to any 1st year medical students enrolled in a U.S. medical school who have completed the first year of medical school having demonstrated interest in furthering the mission of our program as shown through their application. 

Funding & Stipend

Funding for the LEAGUES fellowship is provided by the Michigan Medicine Department of Surgery. A $1,000 stipend will be awarded to each participant, and all materials and books required for participation in the program will be provided. Four (4) LEAGUES fellows are selected each cycle.

Application Requirements

  • Basic Information:
    • Name, Preferred Name, Address, DOB, email
    • Preferred Pronouns, Race/Ethnicity
    • Undergraduate Education, Medical School, Program (MD, MD/MPH, MD/PhD, Other)
  • Short Essays:
    • Prompt 1: Describe the importance of diversity within a team of medical providers. How does this contribute to patient care? What about you and your experiences can contribute to a diverse team of providers to improve patient care? (Word Limit: 300 Words)
    • Prompt 2: Describe your interest in surgery. If you were selected to participate in this program, what would be your personal goals for the month? (Word Limit: 300 Words)
    • Prompt 3: Describe at least two research topics you are interested in exploring. While we cannot guarantee that you will be paired with a faculty mentor who is a perfect match, we will try to pair you with someone who can guide you in pursuing your interests to the best of our ability. (Word Limit: 300 Words)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two Letters of Recommendation, including one from a current medical school faculty or advisor

A committee composed of faculty and residents from the Michigan Medicine Department of Surgery will select participants based on academic achievement and leadership potential. Special notice will be given to applicants with a demonstrated commitment to advancement of minority affairs.

Application Timeline

  • Call for Applications: Friday, January 29th, 2021
  • Application Submission Deadline: Friday, March 26h, 2021
  • Award Notification: Friday, April 23rd, 2021

The fellowship start date is Thursday, July 1st, 2021 and the end date is Friday, July 30th, 2021. Funding is provided by the Michigan Department of Surgery.

Contact Us

Valeria Valbuena, MD

Program Director, LEAGUES Fellowship