Another Summer of Youth Educational Enrichment Celebrated

The Health Career Opportunity Programs held their closing ceremonies for the summer programs on July 26, 2019. (Sean Flynn/UConn Health photos)

Over 200 young students and their families celebrated the end of the 2019 Health Career Opportunity Programs summer enrichment programs on Friday—marking a culmination of weeks of research and clinical internships for aspiring physicians, dentists, and scientists.

Remarks were given by Dr. Bruce Liang, dean of the UConn School of Medicine, Dr. Francis Archambault, chairman of the academic affairs subcommittee of UConn Health Board of Directors and professor emeritus at UConn, and Dr. Marja Hurley, associate dean of the Health Career Opportunity Programs.

Archambault, in his keynote address, shared some of the life lessons he learned from playing baseball. “There’s no substitute for hard work—if you want to achieve a goal, you have to be willing to work rather than play,” Archambault said. “Most importantly, you can’t get a hit unless you get to the plate. You have to be willing to fail if you want to be successful.”

The program alumni speaker, Dr. Tremane Bartley, graduated from the UConn School of Dental Medicine in 2009 and started a dental practice after completing his orthodontics residency at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center in New York.

Bartley congratulated the students for completing a summer of hard work. “You are one step closer. You have taken an important first step in the long journey to become a physician or dentist,”  Bartley said. “The road will be long, there will be stones, but at the end, there’s light. Your sweat, lack of sleep, tears, and sometimes even blood, will only mold you into a stronger, more resilient person.”

The program also included several student speakers who reflected on their experiences, shared light-hearted memories, and expressed gratitude to their mentors. Carlos Flor, a rising 8th grader in the Great Explorations Program and the youngest speaker of the afternoon, said that the program has helped him get ready to apply for college in a few years.

“When it comes time for the college process, I will be able to have the work ethic that I need to start the college process,” said Flor, who attends Global Communications Academy in Hartford. “Thanks to the program, I will be ready and have many new interests.”

Lloydia Anderson in the High School Student Research Apprenticeship Program, noted that sacrificing the summer before senior year of high school was not an easy choice to make, but the opportunity to conduct research made the long days in the lab worthwhile.

“Coming out of this program, me and my fellow participants’ eyes have been opened to the real world of research,” said Anderson, who attends University High School of Science and Engineering in Hartford. “It has been a meticulous and detailed process that includes answers and solutions and sometimes more questions to real issues and problems. I’ve come to enjoy and appreciate the process.”

Muna Saleh of the Pre-College Academic Enrichment Program, heading to Smith College in the fall, said that the enrichment program has been one of the most insightful and beneficial experiences that she has ever had. “This program brings a unique experience that you can’t get from other enrichment activities,” said Saleh of Hartford.

The ceremony honored students in the Great Explorations Program, Jump Start Program, Junior Doctors Academy, Senior Doctors Academy, High School Student Research Apprentice Program, Pre-college Enrichment Program, Medical/Dental Preparatory Program, Summer Research Fellowship Program, and the Health Disparities Clinical Summer Research Fellowship Program.

Earlier in the week, summer research students presented their research findings and posters in Keller Auditorium and in the Academic Lobby.

UConn Health’s Health Career Opportunity Programs aim to raise awareness and proficiency in science among students from diverse backgrounds, provide mentoring and support, and encourage the pursuit of health professional careers. Since 1996, these programs under the leadership of Hurley have sent more than five hundred participants to medical school, dental school, graduate school or other health professional schools.