High school students inspired by rare opportunity
For some local high school seniors, the past six weeks were “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
That’s how 16-year-old student Karim Gharib described Upward Bound, a new program established this year at UMHS. The program is a 50-50 partnership between Wayne-Westland Community Schools and the health system.
The majority of this summer’s 15 students attend Wayne Memorial High School in Wayne, Michigan.
The students, many of whom come from low-income backgrounds and are on track to be the first in their family to attend college, had told high school counselors or teachers about their interest in going into medicine. They then had to fill out an application to be accepted into Upward Bound.
Once welcomed into the program, the students were given a chance to shadow various departments at UMHS each Friday this summer, learning and taking notes from some of the best professionals in health care.
The group met with, among others: infection prevention, sterile processing, anesthesiology, neurology, trauma burn, child and family life and microbiology. Students even had a chance to visit Huron Valley Ambulance and a 9-1-1 call center.
The students watched how nurses, technicians and doctors carried out their tasks. They also had the chance to interact with patients.
Senior Makari Whittaker, 17, worked with Deb Wagner, PharmD, in pediatric anesthesiology. He said he was blown away by the experience. “Dr. Wagner was the most inspirational person I’ve ever come across,” Makari said. “She never gave up on any of those patients or any of those families. One day, I want that to be me.”
The students also took inspiration from witnessing the way patients would perk up in the care of others. Daja Nuckles, 17, spent a day shadowing a music therapist. “After seeing the way patients responded to music therapy, health care went from something I want to do to something I have to do.”
Angee Sanders, from the office of clinical affairs, told the seniors on their final day that UMHS would be thrilled to see them again: “You guys are so smart, so bright, so sweet and so respectful.”
And most students, in a presentation to the rest of their group, floated the idea of coming back. “It was beyond fascinating to see how everyone plays a role in working on the hospital’s main goal: helping people in need,” said Trevor Dunn, 16. “We are excited and motivated to come here again — not as a patient, but for a job interview.”