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SHS students travel to California for symposium

Thirty-eight junior and senior Selma High School students traveled to Anaheim, California for the March 23-25 19th Annual Symposium on Career Opportunities in Biomedical Sciences. Sponsored by the Minority Health Professions Foundation, an associate of Minority Health Profession Schools, the conference this year was hosted by Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.

The MHPF was founded to:

Promote and support research that contributes to the advancement of knowledge and treatment of diseases, disabilities and adverse health problems that disproportionately or differentially affect minority populations;

Further public education to prevent health problems and promote healthy lifestyles along African-American and other minority and underserved populations;

Facilitate an increase in the representation and recognition of under-represented minorities in the professions of medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, biomedical sciences and other health professions;

Support efforts that improve the quality and availability of health care to minority and under-served populations;

And identify and facilitate new directions in minority health by supporting scholarly exchange of scientific and clinical knowledge.

Through support given the Foundation from public and private sources, member schools offer courses in biomedical research, health education and community outreach. Foundation members are drawn from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which include four schools of medicine, two schools of dentistry, five schools of pharmacy and one school of veterinary medicine.

As a group, these institutions are regarded as the nation’s primary educators of minority health professionals and leading authorities on minority health.

Key presenters at the symposium were: Vice Admiral Richard H. Carmona, M.D., who was sworn in as the 17th Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service on April 5, 2002; Dr. Donna J. Nelson, associate professor of Chemistry at University of Oklahoma; Dr. Keith L. Black, director of Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and director of Neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center; Dr. Cynthia R. McIntyre, Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, Associate Professor of Physics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Dr. Debie Thomas, World’s Skating Champion 1986 and twice winner of the U.S. National Championship.

Dr. David Satcher, interim President of Morehouse College School of Medicine and the 16th Surgeon General of the United States addressed the students.

Among the sessions students attended were those on College Survival.

Tuskegee University sponsored the SHS students, each of whom had to write a 300-word essay and have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and receive two recommendations. Each selected qualified for $2,000 for the trip.

This is the sixth year SHS students have attended this annual symposium, Counselor Dale Bryant, who is co-sponsor of the project with Geraldine Martin, says. “Their registration is paid by the Selma City Schools Board of education.”

Attending students are enthusiastic about the Symposium. Robyn Carter considers it “a wonderful experience, and an opportunity to know about a lot of medical fields. We learned we are not tied to one area of medicine in college.”

Shifra Burton enjoyed “the speakers, former Surgeon General David Satcher and the current Surgeon General. I want to go into psychology, but I enjoyed the interaction with the surgeons.

Jessica Whitehead appreciated “the importance of staying focused in a college setting. Medicine is not an easy field to enter. I enjoyed meeting with those of the other 10 colleges.

Jorielle Scott particularly liked “the exhibitions and meeting representatives of the Historical Black Colleges. I had been unaware of the Pharmacy programs so this helped me choose my preferred college – Xavier – to study pharmacy.”

Memendra Page enjoyed the social activities in addition to the sessions. She, too, decided on studying pharmacy, choosing Texas Southern University.

Candace Dozier found the Symposium “very informative. It influenced my decision in a career choice. I plan to get a doctorate in nursing.”

Rosa Pick Williams, one of the SHS students attending the symposium, entered competition for the Robert N. Black Sr. Scholarship Award and was a semi-finalist for the prestigious award

Universities represented were Howard, Texas Southern, Charles R. Drew, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine, Florida A&M University, Hampton University, Tuskegee University and Xavier University of Louisiana, all AMHPS member institutions.