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Los Angeles medical student presses on in Tel Aviv despite risks

Photo: Rachel Barchie, Executive Director of the Simms/Mann Family Foundation and medical school student Ashton Rosenbloom

Studying through The American Medical Program at Tel Aviv University, Ashton Rosenbloom experienced firsthand the onset of the Israel-Hamas conflict in the autumn of 2023. The program is a four-year course of study, chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York State and accredited by the State of Israel.

Despite the political and security situation, Ashton has no doubts that Israel is the place for him to be a medical student. Even though program costs are estimated between $75,000-$80,000 per year, thanks to the generosity of scholarship sponsors like the Simms/Mann Family Foundation, students can pursue their medical degree regardless of their ability to pay.

“Seeing the country mobilize and donate their time and resources to help those that have been affected by the recent conflict was immensely inspiring,” says Ashton, “This type of community and family-oriented mentality is one of the reasons I moved to Israel in the first place.”

When Ashton Rosenbloom was a sophomore at Milken Community School, a Jewish secondary school in Los Angeles, he was part of an exchange student program that took him to Israel. The trip lit a spark in Ashton, who knew then he had to return to his “homeland.”

The first few days of the conflict were hard. Not being able to continue his hospital rotations made him consider returning to the United States. But, within a month he decided to join his peers and volunteer at a nearby hospital. He conducted blood draws and started a food drive. This helped him ease the tension of the war.

“Undoubtedly, it became exceedingly difficult to concentrate on my studies. Eventually, I found that filling my time with studying and volunteering was the most effective way to return to a sense of purpose.”

For his undergraduate studies, Ashton attended the University of California, Berkeley where he was heavily involved in the Hillel community. Later, he worked in clinical research at Saint John’s Cancer Institute in Santa Monica and in laboratory research in exercise physiology. Even so, his mind was made up to go to Israel and continue his medical studies there.

“Israel was always in the back of my mind. It was a place I wanted to return to,” remembers Ashton. “When I learned about this program… it was a no-brainer that I would apply. The best decision I’ve ever made! Hands down, Israel is a great place to be when it comes to research.”

Ashton can’t see himself in any other profession. He has doctors in his family, which have been a beacon of inspiration for him, but most importantly Ashton understands that being a physician will put him in a position to help the community.
“It’s difficult right now, explains Ashton, it takes a lot of sacrifice and you’re really delaying the main part of your career until your early-mid 30s, but most people who are in medical school will tell you that it’s worth it.”

As a second-year student at The American Medical Program at Tel Aviv University, Ashton has been heavily involved in his local and larger communities, serving as the president of the surgery student interest group and volunteering with a free medical clinic in Jaffa.

“This has been a humbling experience because you really don’t get to go to the clinic until later in the program… It has given me the opportunity to just see primary care firsthand… to be there to help the doctors and to learn a little bit more about the workflow of a clinic, but also to learn a bit about the social work that goes behind medicine.”

As medical studies tend to be extremely expensive and have higher barriers to entry, Ashton turned to JVS SoCal for help. JVS SoCal’s Scholarship Program provides qualified Jewish students with need-based financial aid, in the belief that education represents the first step to career success.

“It’s been a huge, huge help. I think it’s no secret that supporting yourself in medical school is difficult, let alone preparing for licensing and the board exams,” says Ashton, “it’s been a big expenditure.

“The support from the Simms/Mann Family Foundation through JVS SoCal’s Scholarship program has been instrumental in giving me some peace of mind and taking some of the financial pressure off me. With everything else that it’s going on, this help is allowing me to focus on what’s really important.”

If you’d like to help other people like Ashton find a rewarding career that combines what they love doing with the ability to earn a good income, consider donating here.