The demographics in the U.S.A are changing rapidly. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 25 years, the so-called “minority” populations, combined, will become the majority in the United States; however the diversity in the healthcare workforce is lagging behind. In 2014 African Americans, Hispanic Americans and American Indians together constitute nearly 38 percent of the U.S. population; however they make up 19% of nurses (AACN 2013), 8.9% of physicians (AAMC 2014) and 13.3% of dentists (ADEA 2013).

Since minority-providers tend to serve their own communities (Porterfield DS et al. J Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved; 2003; 14:256), this lack of diversity is proposed to play a major role in leading to provider shortages and health disparities among different U.S populations (Sullivan Commission on Diversity Report 2007). The need to improve diversity among healthcare providers is widely recognized by Colleges and Universities.

Noticing the shortage of college counselors (954 student for 1 counselor in CA; California Dept of Education Data May, 2016), coupled with the lack of easily accessible mentorship programs that provide individualized guidance based on the students interests and strengths, Pediatrician, Adjunct Associate Professor Ozlem Equils, MD from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center/UCLA School of Medicine founded non-profit MiOra (means my light, pronounced me-ora) in California in June 2015. MiOra’s goal is to help promising high school and college students, interested in a career in STEM or healthcare fields, with college entry and completion.

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