Mount Grad Nancy Abu-Bonsrah Becomes First African-American Female Accepted Into Neurosurgery Program at Johns Hopkins
It’s known as Match Day - an event during the third Friday of March where fourth-year medical students across the country learn where they’ll be going to further develop their skills in pursuit of a career in medicine. While many of these students were undoubtedly pleased and excited about where they had landed, there may not have been a more significant match than Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, C’12, with the institution where she’s heading.
That’s because Abu-Bonsrah has become the first African-American female to be accepted into the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine department of neurosurgery.
Abu-Bonsrah graduated from the Mount nearly five years ago with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, and was a member of the honors program. She will graduate from Johns Hopkins Medical School in May and begin her seven-year residency later this summer.
“The Mount definitely played a huge role in how far I have come,” says Abu-Bonsrah. “It is a true privilege and honor to join the department [at Johns Hopkins] and to be trained by such excellent surgeons.”
Current residents in the Johns Hopkins neurosurgery program are from such undergraduate institutions as Harvard, Yale, NYU, Columbia and Stanford, however the institution has never had an African-American female trained in neurosurgery in 124 years.
“It was my great pleasure to work with Nancy while she was a student at the Mount and to see her mature into the accomplished woman she has become,” said Christine McCauslin, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the science department. “Nancy is an inspiring young woman not only for her intellectual gifts, but also for her integrity and humility.”
According to 2016 data from the National Resident Matching Program there were only .6 positions available per applicant in neurological surgery, making it one of the most competitive specialties in the match process. Additionally, Doximity, an online network for U.S. healthcare professionals, ranks Johns Hopkins third in the country in reputation for its neurological surgery program, making Abu-Bonsrah’s accomplishment even more remarkable.
Originally from Ghana, Abu-Bonsrah is on track to become the first physician in her family, including extended family.
We asked the soon-to-be neurosurgery resident some questions about her time at the Mount:
Q: What made you decide to come to the Mount?
A: My father and I came to visit the Mount during my senior year of high school. What impressed us the most about the Mount was how close the faculty was with the students and how important mentorship was to the community. We knew then that being in such a nurturing and supportive environment would allow me to achieve whatever professional and personal goals I set out for myself.
Q: Were there any specific classes or professors that stood out to you as being especially important in helping you be accepted to the Johns Hopkins neurosurgery program?
A: The science department at the Mount was instrumental in getting me into medical school and up until this point of my career, Dr. Christine McCauslin was my academic and research advisor. Her dedicated support was exceptional and she ensured that I had every opportunity necessary to succeed. The rest of the department (Dr. Kreke, Dr. Miles, Dr. Richman, Dr. Ward and Lisa Rhoads among others), were likewise very helpful. Words cannot describe my sincere gratitude.
Q: What do you believe are some of the best lessons you learned while here?
A: The best lesson I learned from the Mount was being of service to others. This is how we show God’s love to others and it allows us to lift each other up as we go through life’s triumphs and tribulations.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about attending the Mount or thinking about getting into a scientific or healthcare related field?
A: The Mount allows you to nurture your goals. While it will take a lot of hard work, know that there will always be support for you and don’t be afraid to reach out!
Q: If you could go back to your first day on campus and tell yourself something, what would that be?
A: Keep working hard and don’t stress too much.
Nancy Abu-Bonsrah, C'12, Making Headlines