Northwestern Medicine

Summer Intensive Provides High School Students Advanced Look at Cardiology

Northwestern Memorial Hospital August 07, 2012

Westinghouse College Prep students spent three weeks learning about the heart through Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program

CHICAGO, IL – Isa Alvarez beamed proudly as she spoke to a crowd of 50 supporters who intently listened to the 16-year-old describe various approaches to preventing heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. Unlike most teens who enjoy their long summer days outdoors, the rising junior spent much of her summer inside Northwestern Memorial Hospital learning from renowned physicians, professors and mentors. Alvarez, along with 11 other classmates from Westinghouse College Prep, is part of the Northwestern Medicine® Scholars Program, which offers the classes a head start on careers in medicine through live surgery broadcasts, mentoring, lectures, tours and other hands-on learning experiences.

Each summer, the students spend three weeks at Northwestern learning from experts in their field. This year’s summer intensive focused on cardiology and was led by Clyde Yancy, MD, chief of the division of cardiology and associate director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute and Mercedes Carnethon, PhD, assistant professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The students’ days consisted of learning about various cardiology topics and how to perform CPR, viewing a live surgery broadcast, dissecting cow hearts and touring the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

“I’ve wanted to be a cardiologist since I was a little girl, so this summer was especially exciting for me,” said Alvarez. “I learned so much about the heart that I didn’t know before and I can’t wait to share everything the rest of my class.”

To culminate their summer intensive, the students gave oral and poster presentations to physicians, family and friends, and leaders of Northwestern Memorial and the Feinberg School.

Rising sophomore Pragya Jha echoed Alvarez’s sentiments about her experience. “Learning about the cardiovascular system has made me want to make a change in people’s lives for the better,” said Jha, who particularly enjoyed learning about cardiomyopathy, which refers to diseases of the heart muscle.

Yancy, who was impressed with the Scholars’ enthusiasm and growth throughout the intensive, hopes they will take to heart the lessons the physicians have shared with them about cardiology.

“What I really hope you’ll take away from this experience is three things: to be resourceful, lessons in perseverance and most of all, self-confidence,” said Yancy as he addressed the Scholars. “The amount of time you’ve devoted this summer is inspiring and our program is building upon the wonderful things you’re learning at Westinghouse.”

The Scholars Program, now in its second year, spans the students’ high school tenure and was co-founded by Erica Marsh, MD, reproductive endocrinologist at Northwestern Memorial and Maria Lin, program director, Human Resources at Northwestern Memorial. Marsh and Lin, along with other members of the program’s advisor board presented the students with certificates to signify the completion of the summer intensive.

Dr. Janice Jackson, Westinghouse College Prep principal, admires the growth and benefit of the program for her students.

“It’s great to see how much the program has grown in such a short time,” said Jackson. “The relationship between Northwestern and Westinghouse is a true partnership and the level of time and resources that are dedicated to our students is humbling.”

Northwestern Medicine is the shared vision that joins Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and the Feinberg School in a collaborative effort to transform medicine through quality healthcare, academic excellence and scientific discovery.

The Scholars Program is part of Northwestern’s longstanding commitment to the community, which includes several initiatives designed to expose young people to careers in medicine.

Learn more about Northwestern Medicine Community Initiatives or the Northwestern Medicine Scholars Program.

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