Sheldon Riklon, M.D., an associate professor in the UAMS College of Medicine, shared the story of his perseverance and efforts as one of only two Marshallese physicians to have graduated from U.S. medical schools.

“When I got to college, it was very difficult. I didn’t know anybody. Everyone spoke English. I had no chemistry, no physics, and only one year of biology,” said Riklon. “It took me six years in college to graduate because my first year I took all introductory courses to get to the same level everyone else was.”

Hosted by the UAMS Center for Pacific Islander Health, the UAMS Center for Diversity Affairs, and the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese, the conference helps students and parents understand the college application process, options for higher education and job opportunities in health care. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, less than 1 percent of medical school graduates in 2015 identified as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander.

For many of the parents, it is the first time to learn about programs and financing options to help their child into and through higher education.