Grad Students Run Marathon to Fund Undergrad Scholarships

Two CCNY Biomedical Engineering PhD Candidates Raising Money to Support Students Whose Scholarships Ended

Pamela Cabahug

 Laura Causey

Two years ago, Pamela Cabahug and Laura Causey, PhD candidates in City College’s Grove School of Engineering, learned that funding for biomedical engineering department’s Minority Scholars Program, whose students they were mentoring, would be ending.

Determined to maintain some form of support for the initiative, Ms. Cabahug and Ms. Causey took to their feet, literally. The two fitness enthusiasts decided to run in the 2012 ING New York City Marathon to raise money for students who had lost their scholarships as a result. Their goal is to raise $16,590 to cover a year’s tuition for three undergraduates. To sponsor the marathon run by Ms. Cabahug and Ms. Causey, visit:

Since 2010, Ms. Cabahug and Ms. Causey have competed in more than 20 races in New York City and Cleveland, including three half marathons between them. They’ve also volunteered with the New York Road Runners club in preparation for the run of their life.

After clocking more than 1,350 miles each this year alone, they will join some 45,000 participants November 4 in the 2012 ING New York City Marathon. It will be the first marathon for both and they’re determined to make each step count in the 26.2-mile foot race.

“I wouldn’t do this for any other reason,” said Ms. Cabahug, an upper Manhattan resident who’ll also celebrate her 40th birthday November 4. “It’s very important that we help these young people stay in school and realize their dreams of success in the biomedical engineering field.”

Born in the Philippines and raised in New York, Ms. Cabahug said her career goal was to develop therapies and technologies to treat the degenerative effects of aging on musculoskeletal health. “CCNY is doing an excellent job in preparing Laura and me to achieve our professional aspirations. And as we run through the boroughs of New York City on November 4, our biggest motivation will be to help young people have the same opportunity and, hopefully, to exemplify the benefits of a physically fit lifestyle,” she added.

“These are very talented students in the program,” she pointed out. “It’s not just that they need the money but they could be the next (Andrew) Grove or (Jonas) Salk or turn out to be City College’s tenth Nobel Prize winner.” Dr. Grove, ’60, co-founded Intel Corp., and is a major benefactor of the Grove School. Dr. Salk, ’34, developed the first polio vaccine.

A Harlem resident whose research thrust is muscle lymphatics, and includes the study of muscle degeneration in astronauts, Ms. Causey highlighted the success of one of her former mentees in the Minority Scholars Program, a native of Peru who was fluent only in an Indian dialect when she entered the United States.

“She took every possible opportunity to pursue her goals while here and graduated in 2011 with a BS in biomedical engineering. She’s now at NYU School of Dentistry,” Ms. Causey recounted.

Launched in 2001 and supported by two National Institutes of Health grants, the program’s goal was to graduate African-Americans and Latinos who would obtain PhDs in biomedical engineering. So far, 19 students from the program went on to pursue PhDs after graduating from CCNY.

“City College has become a symbol to the rest of the nation for what can be done when minorities have equal opportunities,” said Dr. Sheldon Weinbaum, CUNY Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, who directed the Minority Scholar Program. “With 53 percent of undergraduate NIH minority scholars going on to get their PhD or MD, CCNY is unique among the more than one hundred BME programs nationally.” he noted.

Photos: Laura Causey and Pamela Cabahug  [top photo] , PhD candidates in CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering, pictured in preparatory races ahead of their fundraising run in the 2012 ING New York City Marathon.
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