Three Honors Students Gain Early Admission to Tufts Medical School

Five University of Maine students have received early acceptance to Tufts University School of Medicine through the Maine Track Early Assurance program. The students are India Stewart, a biology major and Honors student from Verona Island, Maine; Erica Hidu, a microbiology major and Honors student from Hampden, Maine; Leigh Johnson, a psychology major from Yarmouth, Maine; Margaret Varney, a biology major from Turner, Maine; and Jenny MacDowell, a biochemistry major and Honors student from Littleton, Mass.

Born of a partnership between Tufts and Maine Medical Center, Maine Track Early Assurance reserves a limited number of seats per year for sophomores from University of Maine System institutions, Bowdoin, Bates and Colby. The program was established in 2008 (the first round of students was accepted in 2009) with the hope that a significant number of its graduates will go on to practice medicine in Maine.

“We try to find the best candidates regardless of which undergraduate school they attend,” says Robert Bing-You, associate vice president for medical education at Maine Medical Center.

Typically, the program accepts five to seven Maine students — this year, there were six. In 2010, three slots went to UMaine students Warren Varney, Bradie Manion and Daniel Gerges. In 2009, two went to UMaine students Jonathan Pelletier and Aaron Perreault.

That UMaine students have such success in the program speaks to the quality of UMaine’s pre-med program, research opportunities and health professions advising, according to President Paul Ferguson.

“India, Erica, Leigh, Margaret and Jenny are outstanding UMaine students and we are proud of their accomplishments,” says UMaine President Paul Ferguson. “The UMaine academic experience is characterized by access to our highly accomplished faculty and research opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students. These students, and many others like them, are taking full advantage of those opportunities, leading to incredible long-term opportunity. We look forward to following their progress as they pursue personal and professional goals, both here at UMaine and after they graduate.”

The Maine Track students have worked closely with advisers in the Health Professions Office on campus. Though they will still need to complete their course requirements, these students can skip the MCATs and the rigorous application process.

“I believe my time at UMaine and what I’ve been able to achieve here made me a better candidate,” says Hidu, who has done research in microbiology professor Robert Wheeler’s lab since 2009.


About Tufts Maine Track:

Tufts Maine Track is a partnership between Maine Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine that offers clinical training experiences in Maine and exposes medical students to aspects of rural practice and training in a major tertiary medical center. More information about the Tufts Maine Track program is available at

Contact Kristen Andresen at (207) 581-3742