Shofalarin (Sho) '17 and Shofolahan (Flo) '19 Da-Silva are two and a half years apart, but the brothers have followed twin tracks through their education. That includes a transformative year in CST’s Post Baccalaureate Pre-Health Program where they laid the groundwork for their respective careers in medicine and more.
Even before college, the Da-Silvas both knew they wanted to follow in their father’s path. Shonola Da-Silva was trained in Nigeria and now practices pediatric intensive care medicine in Ohio. “I remember walking around the hospital with my dad, and seeing how he helps people, and it seemed like the best career choice you could ever make,” Sho says.
Both brothers earned undergraduate degrees from the University of the Sciences while playing basketball there. The combination of their extensive sports commitment and the need for more preparatory coursework meant that applying for medical school would have been a challenge coming right out of college. “The post bacc program was a real bridge for us. I don’t know that I would have gotten into medical school otherwise,” Sho says. “It wasn’t what we studied so much as learning how to study, and gaining the skills needed for success in medical school.”
For Flo, the social aspect of the program was especially important. “A couple of my best friends now were students that I met at Temple, and though none of us are at the same med school, we still talk every day. That support system was valuable at Temple and continues to be.”
In 2019, the brothers cofounded, along with two other CST post bacc graduates, Tri- State Black Men in Medicine, a professional group for physicians, residents, fellows, medical students and pre-med students that offers networking and mentorship opportunities.
“I mean, our dad is a physician, and we didn’t learn how to get into medical school ourselves until pretty late on,” Sho says. “We knew there had to be a way to connect Black male physicians, medical students and those trying to get into the medical field, while also supporting the underserved communities that we both learn and practice in.”
In the beginning, the brothers cold-called professionals in hospitals and doctors’ offices to tell them about the new nonprofit. With word of mouth, Tri-State, grew steadily and now counts more than 60 members. Many more attend its panel discussions, mentoring events in schools, health fairs and community service opportunities.
“The reach feels vast now with everyone working on this together,” Sho says. “For both Flo and me, part of the way we were raised was to give back, to reach out to your community, and help where you can.”
In addition to mentoring and encouraging younger people to find their way to a medical career, the opportunities for representation in the broader community have been powerful. “When we do our health fairs, we meet people from the older generations,” Flo says. “Just seeing that number of Black doctors means a lot to them.”
Sho is now at Ross University School of Medicine and plans on going into gastroenterology and advanced endoscopy. Flo is at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and is considering specializing in pediatric anesthesiology. The Da-Silvas plan to continue building Tri-State, wherever they professionally land geographically.
“I was in the mall and saw a couple of girls with Tri-State Black Men in Medicine t-shirts. That was a great feeling,” Sho says. “No matter where we end up, we want to see people progress in their careers, and we want to help them succeed.”