South L.A. medical school receives $7.7-million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies

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Jessica Bodden is a fourth-year medical student at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Willowbrook. (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

Jessica Bodden is a fourth-year medical student at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Willowbrook. (Dania Maxwell/Los Angeles Times)

When Jessica Bodden was accepted into medical school six years ago, she didn’t realize the amount of loans she’d be saddled with.

The South Los Angeles native completed her undergraduate degree in state with relatively low debt. But when it was time to pay first-year tuition at her dream medical school, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, a private, nonprofit, historically Black institution in L.A.’s Willowbrook district, she began relying heavily on need-based scholarships and loans to pay the bill.

Coming from a household that made less than $25,000 annually, and as the mother of a 2-year-old son, Bodden was forced to borrow heavily, sinking her into more than $200,000 of student debt. She also took a two-year break from medical school to get a master’s in public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.

But as her fourth-year anxieties were creeping up, Bodden’s medical school announced in September that it would deduct up to $100,000 from each Black and Latino student’s debt as part of a $7.7-million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The grant, which is the largest private gift the university has received in its 54-year history, will benefit 82 currently enrolled medical students.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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