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Worcester Pipeline Collaborative celebrating 20 years

UMass Medical School and Worcester Public Schools partnership reaps education and workforce rewards

  First-year School of Medicine students and Worcester Pipeline Collaborative alumna Marian Younge is among those celebrating the program’s 20th anniversary on April 28.
  First-year School of Medicine student Marian Younge

In 1996, UMass Medical School made a commitment to encourage under-represented and disadvantaged students to pursue careers in biomedical research, biotechnology, and health care professions. Through a partnership with local public schools, the Worcester Pipeline Collaborative was launched, and 20 years later, is celebrating its success. 

“We have built critical mass over the years in terms of the number of youth we are reaching and the way they are becoming employed,” said Robert Layne, MEd, director of outreach programs. “Program outcomes have been encouraging. We are data driven, and we are seeing results.” 

Approximately 5,000 Worcester Public Schools students participate in numerous program opportunities. Structured activities include mentoring, job-shadowing, tutoring, clinical observation, research internships, after-school science programs, visiting scientist programs, a speaker's bureau and family engagement. 

Through these activities, students learn to set high expectations for themselves, as they participate in rigorous K-12 mathematics and science curricula, and develop language skills required to enter competitive collegiate programs. Students also become academically prepared to pursue biomedical research, biotechnology, and health careers in Massachusetts. Many students who have participated in these programs over the years have gained employment at UMass Medical School and clinical partner UMass Memorial Health Care or gone on to graduate school, some close to home at the UMMS School of Medicine, Graduate School of Nursing and Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. 

Marian Younge entered the Worcester Public Schools at age 10 when her family came to Worcester from Ghana. Now a second-year School of Medicine student, the North High School graduate credits her involvement in the pipeline for influencing her decision to pursue a career in medicine, and for helping her gain admission to Tufts University and UMass Medical School. 

“As the oldest child and first person in my family to travel this path, I appreciated all the help I got from this program,” said Younge. 

Now she is paying it forward as a volunteer with the collaborative. Medical students Michael Buckner, Kayla Elliot, Jessica Long and Younge were awarded a 2016 MLK Semester of Service Award for their community service project “Young Men of Today: Medical Professionals of Tomorrow” at North High. It is an enrichment program that assists young men of color in the Worcester area get started in health care careers. 

On Thursday, April 28, Layne and Younge will be among those attending a 20th anniversary celebration at UMMS along with teachers, community members, families and friends of the Worcester Pipeline Collaborative. The event is being hosted by Terence Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine, and UMMS outreach programs founder Deborah Harmon Hines, PhD, professor of cell & developmental biology and vice provost for school services. 

“I love that I get to meet students of all ages who are interesting, talented and eager to learn about careers in health care, biotechnology and biomedical research,” said Layne. “We see students and families in the community who, years later, still remember their Worcester Pipeline Collaborative experiences. That some of these students end up at UMass Medical School is icing on the cake.” 

Related links on UMassMedNow:
Students pursue Martin Luther King’s legacy of service with MLK Semester of Service Awards
Harmon Hines named recipient of Bruce Alberts Award for Excellence in Science Education
UMass Medical School recognized for preparing youth for jobs
Hello, my name is . . . Robert E. Layne