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High school history repeats itself at the AMA

Dr. Jeremy Lazarus, the American Medical Association's new and 167th president, graduated from Chicago's Senn High School (class of '61), named after Nicholas Senn, the AMA's 49th president.

It's believed to be the first time that something like this has occurred.

Lazarus mentioned this coincidence in his inaugural address and stated that "say what you will about foreshadowing or fate," it was probably best that he didn't go to Michael Jordan Prep or Mike Ditka Magnet School.

Located in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood on the city's North Side, Senn is mostly known for having a large and diverse immigrant population. Its website notes that it was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Diverse School in the United States."

The website also notes that, out of 1,067 students, 415 were born outside the U.S. and 663 speak one of 44 languages other than English at home.

Some of these students are pictured on a slideshow on the school's home page, including a boy from Nepal who wants to be a neurosurgeon, another from Vietnam who wants to study medicine, a girl from Guinea who want to be a doctor and girl from Peru would like to work with Doctors Without Borders.Senn doesn't make the news much, and the most attention it received in recent memory was in 2004 and 2005, when the school was picked to be the site of a U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program as well as for the Hyman G. Rickover Naval Academy, a college preparatory school.

There were protests, as some felt that Senn's immigrant population was being targeted for military recruitment. Upon examination, though, there was a historical connection that made the school a logical choice.

Described by one biographer as the "plumed knight of medicine and the American Socrates," Senn, 1844-1908, founded the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States.

As a lieutenant colonel, Senn was the Army's chief surgeon in Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

A collection of 170 items, including pictures, correspondence and research items, can be found in the Nicholas Senn Papers housed in the Rush University Medical Center Archives in Chicago.

Maybe someday this knowledge will help you win a trivia contest or a round of "Jeopardy!"

Follow Andis Robeznieks on Twitter: @MHARobeznieks.
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