One UC medicine student has benefitted from the generosity of donors

Donation empowers health care problem-solvers

Christopher Jonathan Slack, MED ’24, knows the meaning of “medically underserved.” As a native Hawaiian who grew up in Flagstaff, Ariz., bordering a Navajo Reservation, he knows what happens when medical care is too far away and put off too long. Toes are amputated. Sores fester. Hearts fail.

Chris also knows the value of world-class medicine. Nearly a decade ago his mother suffered two ruptured brain aneurysms and was given only a slim chance of regaining a meaningful life. Thanks to outstanding neurosurgical care in Phoenix, she made a complete recovery.

Today, Chris aspires to bridge the gap between the underserved and well-served. “All indigenous populations face the exact same issues of inequity in healthcare delivery,” he says.

He plans to return to Arizona following his medical education and training to provide primary or specialty care on the Navajo Reservation. “The sooner I can get back to Flagstaff, and the sooner I can get back to serving the Navajo Reservation, the more people I can help.”

Chris set his sights on becoming a doctor during his mother’s medical emergency. He earned his EMT certification, completed a year of community college while still in high school, and embarked on a challenging pre-med curriculum. 

Our scholarships change lives

The UC College of Medicine caught his eye because it offered a longitudinal primary care clerkship that began in students’ very first year. “Primary care is something that has always interested me.,” Chris says. “Being able to learn the basics so early in my medical education made UC my top choice. Many medical students do not get to apply what they’ve learned until their third and fourth years.”

Whether they are physicians or not, donors have invested in the future of medicine, and this has inspired me to do the same.

Christopher Jonathan Slack '24

Shortly after arriving at UC, Chris learned that he had been awarded a prestigious research and education scholarship. “I had to sit down,” he recalls. “I was on the verge of tears. I had to take it in for a second. It demonstrates the faculty’s investment in each student and their commitment to learning about each student’s background, which is how I was selected.”

The scholarship not only eased the financial burden of medical school, it also magnified Chris’s determination to give back. “It has inspired me to always give back in mentorship, service and scholarship when I’m a physician myself,” he says. “Whether they are physicians or not, donors have invested in the future of medicine, and this has inspired me to do the same.” 

Chris is already giving back in his role as president of UC’s chapter of the American Medical School Association. His major initiative involves helping aspiring pre-med students better understand the application process.

In addition to primary care, Chris is also passionate about diagnostic radiology and otolaryngology. He is currently researching a cervical spine malformation whose treatment can require surgical intervention. He notes that no specialty is easily accessible for residents of the Navajo Reservation. Whatever path he takes, he is confident he will become an outstanding physician who exhibits “the pillars that the UC College of Medicine stands for.”

To support Cristopher and other students like him in their UC journeys, please click visit the College of Medicine's giving website.

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