Jonesboro, Ark. – Nine high school students from Northeast Arkansas spent their summer immersed in science thanks to a new program hosted by New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine on campus of Arkansas State University.
In June, NYITCOM launched a new program titled SHARE, which stands for Summer Health Academy for Research Exploration. The eight-week program provided intense laboratory exposure along with a cluster of professional/career development activities to expose the students to a number of potential careers in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Medicine) fields. Harrisburg, Brookland, Valley View and Nettleton High Schools were represented among the nine students who participated in the program.
Twice a week, the students received a presentation from a professional who works in a STEMM field, including NYITCOM and Arkansas State University faculty. The interactive sessions gave the students an opportunity to hear about potential careers they may like to pursue and ask questions of the professional. SHARE participants were each paired with an NYITCOM faculty mentor, with whom the students conducted research and received encouragement.
“It’s was an excellent experience for all of the students and for the faculty that were involved,” said Rajendram Rajnarayanan, PhD., assistant dean of Research at NYITCOM. “We had a number of tremendous speakers that gave the students valuable information about their careers, and I really enjoyed watching the students engage and learn.”
The SHARE program is funded by American Chemical Society, #ProjectSEED, NYITCOM, Arkansas Biosciences Institute and Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc. (CHCA). Each student received a stipend for participating in the program, a critical element of SHARE.
“Students often miss out on valuable educational opportunities like this because they have to work in the summer,” Rajnarayanan said. “We are extremely grateful for the support of our sponsors who are investing in these students to give them this unique opportunity.”
For NYITCOM-Arkansas, SHARE provides a valuable pipeline program to foster interest in science among young people and connecting them to the medical school.
“We’re seeing a shortage of people going into medical fields across the board,” Rajnarayanan said. “We have to get young people excited about science and expose them to the opportunities that are out there. My hope is that we will see some of these students in our program in a few years training to become a physician.”
About NYITCOM – Arkansas:
New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine on the campus of Arkansas State University is dedicated to improving access to health care for the underserved and rural populations in Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta Region. Arkansas ranks 48th in overall population health status due to low health indicators including obesity and number of adults who smoke. The state also ranks 46th in the number of active physicians per capita and 39th in the number of primary care physicians. NYITCOM – Arkansas was established in 2016 with the mission of meeting the need for more physicians in this medically underserved area.