Portrait of Dan Coleman
Dan Coleman is director of outreach for the University of Mississippi School of Medicine.
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People of the U: Dan Coleman

Published on Thursday, September 3, 2020

By: Ruth Cummins

Navigating life as a new medical student, let alone a fourth-year, can be just as tough as a final exam.

As director of outreach for the University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Dan Coleman’s goal is to help students overcome obstacles that can jeopardize their studies and to give them the tools to be their best and most successful selves.

As the SOM increases outreach to students of color, “we spend a lot of time mentoring and providing guidance,” said Coleman, who previously worked in UMM’s Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program. “I’m responsible for advising students with tips on how to go through the medical school process and to give underrepresented students a road map to success.”

Coleman, who earned his doctoral degree in higher education from Mississippi State University in 2017, spends long hours conversing with students at Mississippi colleges and universities. He especially has a heart for working with students coping with personal or academic problems.

“We sit down with them and provide guidance to get them on the right track toward medical school,” he said. “We hold one-on-one meetings and group meetings. I think that, more than anything, that is my passion: to provide the guidance they need on what to do, and to open up their minds and show them that they can fulfill their dreams.”

Coleman has been in their shoes. He’s a first-generation college student raised in Louisville, Mississippi, by his mom, Louise Coleman.

“My mom raised three boys,” Coleman said. Together with his wife, Ameka Coleman, “she’s been my biggest inspiration to go after my dreams.” 

Coleman said he didn’t have a clue about college but was fortunate that “someone provided guidance to me. Now, I can provide that voice.”

Portrait of Demondes Haynes

“Dan Coleman is an amazing addition to the School of Medicine,” said Dr. Demondes Haynes, professor of medicine and the SOM’s associate dean for admissions.

“His innovative ideas and genuine concern for students make him the perfect fit for this position. He goes above and beyond for students and makes them feel at ease and at home here. Students have access to his cell number and contact him after hours as well.”

Coleman said the SOM students he mentors – some of them, he had a hand in recruiting – are a blessing to him personally. “So many have really impacted my life and made me a better person,” he said. “So many times, students don’t know how to do A, B, C or D, and you walk with them on their path. You become family. It’s been amazing.”

The Colemans live in Brandon and are parents to children Olivia, 5; Isaiah, 3; and Elijah, 1. “I chase them around the house,” he said of the kids. “They are busy!”

At work, Coleman said, he is living out his dreams. Haynes inspires him to be the best resource possible for students in need. 

“He’s an amazing leader. He has very high expectations and holds you accountable, but he is so student-centered. He wants every student to succeed,” Coleman said.

“When that passion lines up with my purpose, it does something to me.”

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