During this spring’s 55th Annual Medical Education Conference in Philadelphia, the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) elected Geisel med student Trenika Williams ’21 to a two-year term on its National Board of Directors as regional director of Region VII.
The National Medical Association (NMA) was established in 1895 in response to the American Medical Association’s exclusion of Black physicians from their organization. Since 1964, SNMA, originally the student arm of the NMA, has been dedicated to programs and activities that address diversity, healthcare access, health disparities, and social justice. Region VII includes 11 student chapters in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Committed to SNMA’s mission, Williams says, “I’ve personally seen the value of the work the organization does in supporting underrepresented minority medical students, and I’m happy to broadcast that work to a wider community.”
Williams knew she wanted to be a physician, but as a first-generation college student, she lacked mentors and was unsure of how to proceed. During her senior year of college, a medical student introduced her to MAPS—the Minority Association of Premedical Students, which is the undergraduate branch of SNMA. Her undergraduate college lacked a formal affiliation with the organization, so she and a group of fellow students established a campus chapter.
“Most of the guidance I received on my journey to medicine has been through people affiliated with SNMA,” she says.
In her first year at Geisel, Williams served as treasurer of the school's chapter, and in her second year became chapter president and Region VII parliamentarian—she spent the year developing a regional constitution and updating the bylaws. As regional director, she’ll oversee regional operations, including conferences, professional and leadership development, community service, and upholding the SNMA’s mission of cultivating clinically excellent, culturally competent, and socially conscious physicians. She’ll also serve as the region’s liaison to the National Board.
Williams is also among the founders of Black Students at Geisel—an organization dedicated to building a strong sense of community and camaraderie among students of African descent at the medical school. She also founded Young Black Professionals at Dartmouth, which unites graduate students in the Upper Valley, including the Vermont Black Law Students Association.
“I’d been advocating for myself—trying to figure everything out—before I found appropriate mentors to guide me. Figuring it out is the story of my life,” Williams says.
She’s now dedicated to helping others find their way in life any way she can. Though she has not yet solidified her choice of specialty, she knows that she will work with underserved populations. “Working with underserved communities is without question what I want to do. I’m drawn to addressing the social determinants of health—being involved within my community and being able to identify and address their needs.
“That’s the place for me,” she says.