Rush Medical College Student Named Pisacano Scholar for Commitment to Family Medicine

September 5, 2017

Fourth-year Rush Medical College student Sean McClellan was recently named a 2017 Pisacano Scholar, one of six recipients nationally. The scholarships, valued up to $28,000 each, are awarded to U.S. medical students who demonstrate a strong commitment to the family medicine specialty. In addition, each applicant must show integrity, leadership skills, superior academic achievement, strong communication skills and a noteworthy level of community service.

As an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, McClellan spent a year with Health Leads, a national organization of college students dedicated to understanding the socioeconomic barriers that lead to poor health and helping patients overcome them. He also volunteered for three years with STRIVE, a mentoring and support program for youth with sickle cell disease.

McClellan received a grant from the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago to work with Primeros Pasos, a medical non-governmental organization that operates a clinic in rural, indigenous areas of Guatemala. As a development intern, McClellan updated the website, organized and presented six years of malnutrition data from local schools, and with supervision researched and wrote a grant application to expand the women’s health program. As a health educator, he taught daily lessons to elementary school children focusing on nutrition and hygiene.

After graduating, McClellan became involved with Undocumented Illinois, a Chicago grassroots organization led by undocumented youth working toward the recognition of the rights and contributions of all immigrants. He helped plan rallies, marches, and other political actions in Chicago and across the country, spoke at workshops for undocumented youth at high schools, organized lobbying bus trips, worked on campaigns to stop individual deportation cases, and wrote grant applications. Since beginning medical school, McClellan has continued his involvement with the group.

As the recipient of a Fulbright Program Research Fellowship, McClellan spent a year prior to medical school exploring the intersections of health and popular politics in Guatemala and conducting fieldwork with a Mayanist association of health promoters, the national health care workers’ union and an environmental NGO that supports communities affected by mining projects. He also received the Clarissa D. Haffner Family Practice Endowed Scholarship, a three-year scholarship awarded annually to a student at Rush University who demonstrates a commitment to leadership within the field of family medicine.

At Rush Medical College, McClellan has been involved with the Latino Medical Students Association, Family Medicine Leads Emerging Leaders Institute and currently with the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, or IAFP, government affairs committee. This past year he served as the student president-elect for the IAFP.

After residency, McClellan would like to work at a federal-qualified health center in Chicago and continue to build relationships with community organizations to address social determinants of health.

Since 1993, the Pisacano Leadership Foundation has selected 140 outstanding medical students. Approximately 2,600 applicants representing more than 140 medical schools competed for these scholarships. Each Pisacano scholar receives an endorsement from his or her medical school prior to being reviewed by the selection committee. The selection committee is comprised of the distinguished members of the PLF board of directors and more than 300 participating family physicians.