The aspiring orthopedic surgeon is determined to make a difference by increasing the numbers of Black doctors and closing gaps in health equity.
Nicholas Paul is determined to become part of the solution.
The first-year student is aware of the statistic: African Americans comprise 12 percent of the U.S. population but only 5 percent of doctors, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Paul, a biology major and finance minor, wants to do his part to change that. He said he has wanted to become an orthopedic surgeon since the seventh grade. While in high school he attended Science and Leadership in Medicine (SLiM), a six-week program run by Weill Cornell Medicine to increase awareness about medical careers for Black and Latino students.
Through his participation in SLiM, Paul said he learned that “there has been an underrepresentation in medicine among Black and Latino students and a lack of accessible mentors in the field.
“I knew I wanted to be a doctor, and spoke to my parents and family members in the field,” he explained. “Two of my aunts are nurses and my cousin is a nurse practitioner. I looked at a lot of information before I decided on orthopedic surgery.”
He decided to pursue his undergraduate studies at Adelphi after he and his parents toured the Garden City campus in 2023. “Adelphi has lived up to my expectations,” he said. “It’s the right place for me to achieve my academic goals.”
Becoming a Scholar
Paul has achieved a significant goal by earning a Healthfirst/One Hundred Black Men of New York scholarship. Through his mentor, Raumert Hubert, Paul learned about the Junior 100 program, which aims to create opportunities for economic empowerment, promote social justice and help close gaps in health equity.
“I had to be an active participant of the Junior 100 program, write an essay and go through an interview process to earn the scholarship,” said Paul, one of five Healthfirst scholars in the 2023–2024 academic year. “I was really nervous, although I’m a pretty confident person. I did a lot of pre-interviews with my parents to prepare for the actual interviews.”
The scholarship provides Paul with financial assistance for tuition along with mentoring access. As part of the program, he attended networking events, including the One Hundred Black Men’s 60th Anniversary Gala at Lincoln Center, the 37th annual conference of 100 Black Men of America and a golf outing at Ardsley Country Club in Westchester County, New York.
Inspired by an Accomplished Doctor
Born in Valley Stream and raised in West Hempstead on Long Island, Paul is a first-generation American. His parents emigrated here from Haiti, and he speaks both English and Haitian Creole fluently.
He said he is inspired by Answorth A. Allen, MD, the associate surgeon-in-chief and deputy medical director at the Hospital for Special Surgery, who specializes in shoulder, knee and elbow surgery and is also the lead team orthopedist for the New York Knicks and orthopedic consultant for the West Indies Cricket Board of Control.
“I first met Dr. Allen as a patient when I was 7 years old because I had an issue with my ankle,” Paul said. “It was inspiring to be treated by someone who looks like me and is also of West Indian heritage. Much later, I was fortunate enough to participate in a session of the SLiM program where he was the guest speaker, and I was so impressed by his accomplishments and his journey. Seeing someone who shares my cultural background excel in the field is motivating. He’s doing exactly what I want to do.”
As Paul continues his studies at Adelphi, he is doing research on medical schools with an eye toward excelling in the medical field himself, while making a meaningful impact on his community and eventually becoming a guide for future generations.