Dozens of students taking part in summer enrichment programs wrapped up their work last week at the UConn Health Center. Poster presentations, a research symposium and final ceremonies marked the culmination of weeks of research and clinical internships for the aspiring physicians, dentists and scientists.
On Thursday, 20 college students, who participated in the Summer Research Fellowship Program and the Health Disparities Clinical Summer Research Fellowship Program sponsored by the Department of Health Career Opportunity Programs (HCOP), presented their research posters in the Academic Lobby.
The students, who are part of the Aetna Health Professions Partnership Initiative, interned at various community organizations for six weeks this summer.
“It’s an important initiative because it helps make the students more aware of health disparities having had the experience of actually contributing to research in this area,” explains Dr. Marja Hurley, director of HCOP.
Kamisha Byas graduated from UConn last December and spent her internship at Family Life Education in Hartford which largely serves the Latino community. Her research focused on the importance of having interpreters available during clinical appointments.
“The patients who had interpreters were more confident and comfortable about the entire process,” says Byas. “It’s a worthwhile investment because they can receive counseling on preventive screenings like colonoscopies and mammograms. Cervical and breast cancer can be prevented. In the long run, interpreter services are less expensive than long-term cancer or end-of-life care.”
John Garcia is a UConn sophomore majoring in allied health sciences. He did his internship at the Hartford Dispensary and his poster presentation focused on an analysis of methadone treatment in Hartford County.
“I learned so much during this summer fellowship program and it’s reaffirmed my desire to pursue a career in medicine,” says Garcia.
“Students have worked very, very hard on these projects,” says Hurley. “Some of the students are interested in the combined MD/Ph.D. program which I think is very exciting because we want students to think about careers in academic medicine and as physician scientists.”
Sixteen high school students who participated in the High School Student Research Apprentice Program at the Health Center and Central Connecticut State University gave oral presentations and displayed research posters in Keller Auditorium on Friday.
Also on Friday, HCOP hosted closing ceremonies for the Great Explorations, 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 in Keller Auditorium.
The welcome speakers were Sharon Dalton, vice president of the Aetna Foundation, and Dr. Damian Findlay, a Class of 2006 graduate of the UConn School of Dental Medicine. The keynote speaker was Dr. Mun Choi, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Connecticut.