Someone You Should Know: Kevin Sloss, Black Males In Health Care Coordinator

You know how you have Facebook friends who you don't know in person, but you really dig them? That's how I feel about Kevin Sloss! Actually, we have met and collaborated together by working with youth at Holy Trinity High School for a Black History Month program. Kevin Sloss is a health care program coordinator at Chicago's Malcolm X College where he works with young Black males to ensure them going into and succeeding in the health care field. The program focuses on instilling a solid foundation in math and science and further creating an increase of Black male doctors in the future. Kevin's motivation and passion for uplifting young people is truly inspiring and makes him a force to be reckoned with. Read more about Kevin and what he's doing for the young African American youth in the city of Chicago through his program.

1. Introduce Yourself! 

Hello My name is Kevin Sloss. I am a 25-year-old Black man who used to be seemingly ashamed to be so. I guess we will get there further in the interview. For now, I am a Chicagoan through and through, born and raised here. My early education started in the Lincoln Park Neighborhood at St. Vincent DePaul, then on to Oscar Mayer Elementary School. In Oscar Mayer I was the only Black male in my accelerated science course work. After graduation, I attended Holy Trinity High School where I would go on to be a charter member of the Mission Trip Club. After Holy Trinity’s Graduation in 2009, I started my education at the University Of Illinois Urbana Champaign. From there taking a few courses in the summer at Malcolm X College I graduated in 2013 with my Bachelor of Science in Community Health with focuses in Education and Promotion & Administration and Planning.

2. You're so passionate and I always see you talk about working with young people. First of all I want to say thank you. Not only for your work but also for your amazing energy. Our youth need to consume positive images and have positive adults in their presence to motivate them and push them into greatness. With that being stated, how long have you been working with the youth and what made you want to work with them in the first place?

Wow. Thank you so much for those words. You know I don’t post to boast or gloat, but to raise awareness and get people motivated, and even find motivation within myself. I am glad that I am inspiring others. My first real job working with youth began when I was nineteen/twenty. I remember the beginning of college we were supposed to find an internship, but I was so broke I wasn’t sure I could manage it, so I looked for a job that met my internship needs but didn’t require me to suffer financially. When I found the position at the Housing Authority a very well paid internship/assistantship position with its own office I was thrilled, even more so I was happy to match education with practice. I didn’t realize my full passion until day one when my first 15 charges entered my office and I realized that I wanted to help ensure that other minority students never had issues of feeling depressed or not gaining access to college. From there I was on a roll. Ironically within that job that’s how we met. I wanted to program for social justice seminars with your information as a seminar, and that’s when we initially met.

3. You work at Malcolm X College as a coordinator preparing young Black males to dive into the health field. Tell us more about your position. 

Yes, I work at Malcolm X College focusing on preparing students to matriculate into the health care field. I work under a U.S. Government Grant called the Predominately Black Institution Grant, which is highly competitive and not offered to every institution. As my teams millennial and Black male, I am the face of our programs. We are unique in that we work highly with Chicago’s youth at varying ages, making sure that we introduce them to science and math. We work to increase their likelihood while decreasing their fears, stigmas, and stereotypes. Three are several initiatives that we coordinate for and we reach thousands of students within one academic year.

4. Your program advocates for Black male careers in the medical field. Why is it important for Black male presence and activism within the medical field? 

Yes, our focus is increasing more African American scholars in the health care fields. Malcolm X College is the hub of healthcare for the City Colleges of Chicago, as you know. We have a particular focus on Black males, because for the last 30 years, there has been no increase in the amount of black male applicants since 1978 to medical school. It is projected that in the year 2025 there will be a huge shortage of physicians. Studies have also shown that the more African American males are exposed to science, technology, engineering, and math, they are more likely to go into these fields. Studies also show that the more African American males within this field, they are more likely to help lower income minority communities decrease their medical issues. For me, that’s why I love my job, I was destined to be a doctor in college, but due to lack of mentorship and knowledge of resources in college I wasn’t able to do so.  Now I am on a path to become a different doctor.

5. I always see you discuss issues concerning social justice, especially pertaining to racial inequality and prejudices. What's your take on racism within the medical field and how can that problem be eradicated? 

This is such a multifaceted question. For me the medical field is intense for anyone entering it. If you don’t have support you will crumble. Sadly, racism exists in this profession as well, and its systemic so it will be hard to eradicate. Many students are weeded out during medical school, and the worst part is many are weeded out by systems and educators who aren’t always culturally diverse or sensitive to people of color. It’s basically like being the best designer in your hometown, and your family is so excited by how talented you are, and you go off to this prestigious school, where you are a minority for various reasons. You get there and the educators don’t understand why your fashion represents your culture, but everyone else is getting praised because they look like your educators and have their sense of design. That stress on top your workload, weeds you out. Then judgments are made towards you and slowly but surely it chips away at who you are and you quit, and the field becomes dominated by people who don’t look, or feel like you and then in turn their work doesn’t cater to people of similar experiences. That’s basically every field out there. These racial biases and inequalities are dangerous for the simple fact that if we don’t have more black leaders in this field, the disparities of among the black community will continue to run rampant.

6. In many inner city Black communities across the nation (even internationally), resources and access to health facilities ,and even fresh food, are scarce due to systematic injustice. With the mentorship and training of future Black professionals in the medical field, how does your program aim to change this matter in the long run? 

We plan to ensure that our students are strong within their foundations of math and science is strong before they get to college. This way when they tackle the social issues, they are on a reputable playing field, where they can relate their experiences. From there we are constantly in the works of infusing this first year of our programs with social responsibility that our students should look forward to tackling.

7. What's the toughest obstacle about this position? What's the most rewarding?

The toughest obstacle about this position is the freedom and the open canvas that I am given. I personally have so many ideas and innovative techniques making sure I deliver on them in an effective manner is really the hardest part. The most rewarding part aside from making BLACK DOCTORS is being innovative, having freedom to create programs of my own design.

8. Since you've been working as a coordinator, what has been your favorite project you've worked on with your students? 

My favorite project that I have worked on with my students it’s still a surprise. So I can’t say too much just yet, but the city will know!

9. Where do you want to take this program and your career in the future? How can young people sign up to be apart of the program? 

I want to take this program as far it can possibly go. With this being the first year of the program there is so much we have planned and can create, so again keeping it under-wraps for now. But I want to take this as far as my team and Director see fit. We are working on a host of information avenues where students will have more access to our programs. Plus as the face of programs I will be out doing outreach within Chicago so Chicago’s youth will have access to our materials via that way.

10. What advice would you give to youth who are interested in obtaining careers in the health field? 

My advice to youth who are interested in the health field:
Step 1 Do research on the web everyday.
Step 2 Find your connection to what you want to do. Why are you interested in health?
Step 3 Find a mentor!
Step 4 Talk to your family, teachers, and friends about your goals, it’s important to build support.

Thanks for your time, Kevin!



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