UA Little Rock grad going to med school to help rural communities

Dustin Brown

Dustin Brown grew up in the small town of Hermitage, Arkansas, where life was good, but there were few doctors.

“So many of my friends in high school did not get to go to the doctor,” Brown said. “With a community clinic, I think I would get to spend more time changing my patients’ lives, educating them, and getting to know them better.”

The 23-year-old will graduate May 13 with bachelor’s degrees in biology and interdisciplinary studies. He also earned his credentials as a Certified Nonprofit Professional.

Brown will attend the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in the fall. After becoming a doctor, he plans to give back by working at medical clinics in small towns just like the one where he was raised.

“I want to work in a community-based health care clinic that will provide services for underserved communities and people that can’t afford health care,” Brown said. “ I want to make sure that everyone has access to health care.”

Brown came to UA Little Rock on a scholarship through the highly competitive Chancellor’s Leadership Corps, which taught him the value of community service.

Brown is a volunteer at the Reptile Rescue Center, where he works with rescued turtles and reptiles. At the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Brown volunteers with myeloma patients.

“It’s made me realize how important volunteering is to contributing as a citizen to your community,” he said.

One of his most memorable volunteer experiences was in New York City, where he spent the summer of 2014 volunteering at CampInteractive, a nonprofit organization that inspires the next generation of diverse technology leaders from underserved communities.

“They do a summer coding program,” Brown said. “I helped create program logistics for a young entrepreneur summit, where students create social apps that do good in their own communities. Some of the kids even earned jobs right out of high school with the coding skills they learned at this summer camp.”

Brown has also been active on campus, as a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Professional Honor Society, Delta Chi Fraternity, Friday Fellows, Nonprofit Leadership Student Association, Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, and University Science Scholars.

In summer 2016, Brown participated in the INBRE Research Fellowship, spending 10 weeks at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences researching the effects of Metformin, a drug used to treat Type II diabetes, on endometrial cancer.

“There are a lot of research partnerships with people at UAMS that most students don’t know about,” he said. “Because of the proximity to UAMS, UA Little Rock is able to offer unique research opportunities.”

At the end of the summer, his faculty adviser, Dr. Rosalia Simmen from the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, offered him a full-time position as a biomedical research technician. They are now studying the effects of other drugs on endometriosis and endometrial cancer.

Brown recently received the Thomas Hogue Memorial Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research in the Field of Biology and the Martha Couch Memorial Award for Outstanding Senior in Biology from the UA Little Rock College of Arts, Letters and Sciences.

As his time at UA Little Rock comes to a close, Brown is thankful he chose to come to a university that has taught him to be more open minded and open to new experiences.

“I think UA Little Rock as a whole has helped me grow into a positive person that wants to do good in the world,” he said. “It’s shaped me into who I am. I don’t think I would have turned out the same way if I had gone somewhere else.”

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