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High School Health Careers program immerses students in medical school life

Teens gain knowledge, skills and camaraderie at UMass Medical School

  High School Health Careers Class of 2018 members Kevin Nguyen and Chelsea Boateng

High School Health Careers Class of 2018 members Kevin Nguyen and Chelsea Boateng

In just four weeks, 20 Massachusetts high school students tackled rigorous academics, worked in hospital clinics, learned about health care issues and careers, and were inspired by medical students and professionals. The members of the High School Health Careers Program Class of 2018 at UMass Medical School also made new friends and had a lot of fun.

Created to increase the numbers of individuals from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds in health care and biomedical sciences, the program, now in its third decade, exposes highly qualified high school students to these careers at an early stage in their academic development, and encourages them to set high academic goals and develop concrete strategies to achieve them.

“I was surprised at how quickly we became friends, and how all were so willing to help each other get all of our work done,” said class member Chelsea Boateng, a rising senior at Worcester Technical High School. “I like collaborating with people who are as inspired as I am.”

Boateng is a first-generation Ghanaian-American who watched her mother progress from being a certified nursing assistant to a registered nurse and earn a master’s degree in public health. Both her parents have supported her and her siblings to excel academically and give back to their community.

The program brings likeminded students together with health care faculty and providers in a professional setting on a day-to-day basis so that they can begin to envision themselves in the same setting.

“I realized I wanted to help people with science, which I have a love for and do well in,” said Kevin Nguyen, a rising senior at South High School in Worcester and the son of Vietnamese immigrants. “When I got a new pediatrician at age 14, it was the first time I had seen an Asian doctor. That inspired me.” More interested in neurology than pediatrics at the moment, Nguyen was delighted to be matched with a neurologist for his clinical shadowing experience.

With funding from the Bank of America Foundation, the high school students are housed in dormitories at Worcester State University, giving them an early taste of college life.

“I really enjoyed the program, because I got to understand the work it takes to become a physician, but also understood that the work is not impossible to do,” said Nguyen. “You have to invest time, but if you ever need help, there are a lot of brilliant minds around you to help.”

At closing ceremonies on Friday, July 27, students received certificates of completion, awards were given for the three best health disparities research presentations, and special recognition awards were presented before an audience of proud instructors and family members.

“Because of this program, I am now certain I want to go to medical school,” said Boateng. She will be applying to Massachusetts colleges with solid pre-med programs this fall.  

High School Health Careers Class of 2018

      • Oluseyi Alege, Shrewsbury High School
      • Olusola Alege, Shrewsbury High School
      • Chelsea Amoako, Worcester Technical High School
      • Chizaram Asia, Burncoat High School
      • Obinna Asia, Burncoat High School
      • Chelsea Boateng, Worcester Technical High School
      • Julianny De Los Santos, Holy Name High School
      • Lhiana Essuman, Burncoat High School
      • Elsie Fuakye, Burncoat High School
      • Seun Kolawole, St. Peter-Marian High School


      • Queenly Kyei, Worcester Technical High School
      • Kevin Nguyen, South High School
      • Rolanda Nubuor, Burncoat High School
      • Ruth Opare Darko, Doherty Memorial High School
      • Mariama Sanneh, Worcester Technical High School
      • Khadija Sinkinah, South High School
      • Azka Tanveer, Worcester Technical High School
      • Elsie Tutu, Burncoat High School
      • Jackey Zhang, North Quincy High School
      • Lili Zhao, Worcester Technical High School