Schenectady, N.Y. – Each summer Union College sponsors a Summer Science Workshop for high school students from minorities who are underrepresented in the health professions and biological sciences – giving them exposure to college-level classroom and laboratory study, and career guidance for fields in health professions and scientific research.
Besides exposing nearly two dozen budding scientists to college-level work each summer, the program also has been something of a boon to the College's minority recruitment effort. Since it's inception in 1996, nineteen students from the program have enrolled as students at Union; perhaps not surprisingly, several of those have gone on to become counselors for the very program that brought them to Union. In fact this year, three of the four counselors are former participants.
“We used to soft sell the students on Union,” says program coordinator Karen Williams of the first few years of the workshop. “Now we take them down to the admissions office for interviews and invite them to a reunion in the fall. One student from SSW '96 has just completed his first year at the New England College of Optometry, and two of the current Union students are in the eight-year Leadership in Medicine Program.”
This two-week residential summer enrichment program has HIV/AIDS as its overarching theme. The students will research the scientific, social and political aspects of AIDS, and they will give presentations on a variety of topics related to the epidemic at the end of the program on Friday, July 19.
Beyond classes and labs in immunology, computer technology and cellular biology, the students attend lectures at Albany Medical College Martha Lepow, M.D. and her team of physicians, nurses and social workers who care for the pediatric AIDS population. Also at AMC the students are introduced to the medical school admissions process by both the Dean of Admissions and medical students Additionally, this year students will attend presentations by an HIV positive male, as well as a mother of adopted HIV positive children; and field trips to the New York State Department of Health Axelrod Institute, and the Double H Hole in the Woods Ranch (a camp for chronically ill children). The goal of the program is to expose the students to a wide variety of science-based careers.
Professor Williams is joined by colleagues Peter Tobiessen, director; Twitty Styles, who teaches immunology; James Hedrick, who teaches computer technology; and Quynh Chu-LaGraff, who teaches cell and molecular biology as well as two local high school teachers and four counselors.
Just as striking as the educational component of the program is the strong bonds the students develop in only two weeks. “Many participants have a very hard time saying goodbye,” Williams said.
This year's class is a mix of students from both inner-city environments and rural towns, three are from the Capital District, eleven from New York City, five of the students are from Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Mexico, and one from Barbados.
The Summer Science Workshop was supported by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for the first three years of its existence. It is now completely funded by the College.
For more information, contact Karen Williams at 388-6062 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The best opportunity for photographs and video will take place on Friday, June 19 from 8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.