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Reading: Breaking Barriers and Achieving Excellence: Umaru Barrie’s Journey to Equity in the Physician-Scientist Route
Reading: Breaking Barriers and Achieving Excellence: Umaru Barrie’s Journey to Equity in the Physician-Scientist Route

Breaking Barriers and Achieving Excellence: Umaru Barrie’s Journey to Equity in the Physician-Scientist Route

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Sallu Kamuskay
By Sallu Kamuskay 46 Views 4 Min Read
4 Min Read

In a world where representation matters, Umaru Barrie’s journey as an MD-PhD student serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration. Despite facing immense challenges and limited progress in the representation of Black/African-American students in the field, Umaru’s unwavering determination and resilience have propelled him towards achieving equity in the physician-scientist route. As he enters his eighth and final year of the MD-PhD program, Umaru’s story stands as a testament to the power of dreams, hard work, and community support.

A Stagnant Landscape:

Umaru’s journey began in 2016 when he matriculated into the MD-PhD program, becoming one of the few Black/African-American students selected out of 600 applicants nationwide. However, despite the passing of seven years, the percentage of Black/African-American students in the program remained stagnant at 5-6%. This lack of progress highlights the need for increased efforts to achieve equity and representation in the physician-scientist route.

Overcoming Challenges:

Balancing the demands of medical school and rigorous research posed significant challenges for Umaru. Countless exams, long hours, and sleepless nights tested his determination. However, every setback served as a reminder for him to push harder and prove that dreams can indeed become a reality. Umaru’s unwavering belief that the impossible is waiting to be shattered fueled his resilience and propelled him forward.

Seizing Opportunities:

Umaru’s journey was marked by his unwavering determination to seize every opportunity that presented itself. He entered every room with the intention to dominate, refusing to let his circumstances define him. His success was not solely his own; it was a reflection of his community’s faith in the power of education and the opportunities it could unlock. Umaru’s achievements became a testament to the collective effort and unwavering support he received.

A Responsibility to Inspire:

As Umaru reaches the pinnacle of his journey, he realizes that his success is not just a personal achievement. It is a milestone for his community, a realization that their sacrifices and unwavering faith have contributed to his triumph. With this newfound realization, Umaru feels an overwhelming responsibility to inspire other young individuals who may feel that their dreams are out of reach. He believes that passion, perseverance, and an unyielding spirit can overcome any obstacle and achieve greatness.

The Path Forward:

Umaru’s story serves as a call to action for individuals and institutions alike. It is a reminder that representation matters and that efforts must be made to break down barriers and achieve equity in the physician-scientist route. By shattering ceilings, defying expectations, and uplifting those who are still on their own journeys, we can create a more inclusive and equitable future in the field of medicine and science.


Umaru Barrie’s journey as an MD-PhD student is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and community support. Despite facing limited progress in the representation of Black/African-American students in the field, Umaru’s unwavering belief in the power of education and his community’s unwavering faith propelled him towards achieving excellence. As he completes his eighth and final year of the MD-PhD program, Umaru’s story serves as an inspiration for all those who dare to dream and strive for greatness. Together, let us continue to shatter ceilings, defy expectations, and create a more equitable future for all.

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Sallu Kamuskay is a Sierra Leonean communication strategist, fixer, blogger, youth organiser, event manager, spokesperson, and public relations expert. His work has been regularly referenced and published by national and international media and public policy institutions. Sallu Kamuskay was a child during the brutal war in Sierra Leone. Growing up in the midst of conflict, Sallu witnessed unimaginable abuse of children and gross violations of human rights. The horrors he witnessed during the Civil War had a terrible impact on him at a very tender age. But despite the shock of the war, Sallu never lost hope. He started on a journey of recovery, studying, and working for a better future. At age 15, Sallu entered into the world of activism and advocacy. Sallu Kamuskay was the Vice President of the Young Leaders Organisation, a member of the National Youth Council. The Young Leaders is one of the oldest youth-led organisations in West Africa. The organisation was formed by a group of young leaders, and launched by the then Head of State/President of Sierra Leone. Sallu was part of the group of young leaders who participated in and contributed to the establishment of the National Youth Council. The Commonwealth supported the training for trainers programme with line ministries and youth stakeholders in which key, representatives of youth council, student union and civil society/private sector youth platforms were engaged and empowered in the effective engagement and inclusion of youth. Sallu is co-founder and Executive Director of the Salone Messenger, a global multimedia and public relations firm based In Sierra Leone. Sallu has worked on various developmental and policy issues such as Poverty, Climate Change, Human rights, Child Rights, Education, Health, Gender Equality, Civic Engagement, Government policies, Information Communication Technology for Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, and has also been contributing to various global events and advocacy campaigns. Sallu Kamuskay is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Salone Messenger, a global Multimedia and Public Relations Firm based in Sierra Leone with the latest news and information, on top stories, business, politics, entertainment, and more. Sallu is working with a leading technology company in Africa, Techfrica, that has recently developed and launched a social media, messaging Supfrica with over 150,000 downloads on the Google play store in less than 4 days. He is the Adviser and Media coordinator for the App to give people the platform to connect and communicate to help shape their future with a very fast internet that allows users that live in deprived and hard-to-reach areas with poor internet facility to be able to communicate as it allows and stronger on 2 and 3 G network reception. Sallu has over 9 years of experience in youth engagement, inclusion, and coordination both at local and global levels, giving voice to young people and engaging young people to build a better world. He has served as coordinator for the Wave Alliance which brought together youth-led organisations who attended an international training in South Africa organized by the International Organization – Waves for Change. Sallu is working with the MLT, Waves For Change, and the Government to develop safe spaces for young people, with a view to contributing to the overall development goals of young people including health, as well as to community rebuilding. Sallu is currently the Programme Director for the Wave Alliance, which is a coalition of youth-led and community-based organisations that have successfully introduced evidence-based Surf Therapy programs to young people in communities, with a focus on mental health, peace building and sustainable development. Sallu is currently the focal point and face of Africa’s Faces Social media platform which is a global Social media platform that brings together people from across the world to share their moments, connect, share videos, and interact with friends giving more preference to excluded continents like Africa. Sallu Kamuskay has devoted his time to working for or contributing to a number of national and international organizations and companies, including the Techfrica Technology Company, United Nations, ECOWAS, European Union, Commonwealth Africa Initiatives. This work has led him to travel to a number of countries to contribute to global youth platforms. Sallu is the lead Coordinator for Peace Tour programme, an initiative supported by the European Union, Africa Union, ECOWAS focusing on uniting and empowering young people and local communities. Over the years, Sallu Kamuskay has been using his Techno phone to be able to tell stories, the phone he used to tell the story of Gbessay during Ebola who was admitted at one of the Ebola treatment centers after rumors that she had Ebola when the actual sickness was ulcer, she was almost abandoned at the treatment canter with no medication provided to her. She could have died. Sallu told the story via social media and was able to secure funding from the United Sierra Leone to buy her medication and advocated for her. She was later discharged and taken home, He did the same to a patient that died and was abandoned in the street, Sallu Kamuskay used his phone and shared the message across, the corps was later taken and buried. It could have been more disaster without his voice. The story of late America Stress 3-year-old daughter. The hero’s daughter was abandon after his father's death. He shared her sad story and was able to get a sister who has taken the child as her own and is currently providing her with educational support. The article of America Stress can be read on the link below Sallu Kamuskay feels the stories of Gbessay, America stress and that of many others need to be told. The media house we have cannot better tell these stories, they are better reporters than telling human interest stories. He created the Salone Messenger platform and brought together passionate storytellers to be able to tell these compelling stories.