Maria de Fátima Reyes of the Keck School of Medicine of USC is among 21 outstanding U.S. medical students to receive 2015 Minority Scholars Awards from the American Medical Association (AMA) Foundation.

The program promotes diversity, encourages the elimination of health care disparities and helps alleviate the high cost of a medical education.

Recipients are chosen from first- or second-year medical students in historically underrepresented ethnic groups in the medical profession, with selection based on scholastic achievement, financial need and commitment to improving minority health.

Less than 9 percent of U.S. physicians currently fall within these groups, which include African American/Black, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino.

Reyes is a second-year medical student at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

During her first year of medical school, she launched a randomized control trial assessing the use of mindfulness practices and language adequate patient education and its effects on physiologic and psychological stress.

On an AMA web page profiling the award recipients, Reyes is described as being excited to begin her clinical education at Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center and looking forward to helping provide health care for underserved areas in Los Angeles.