SMHS summer program receives Congressional funding

A congressional earmark in the recently passed stimulus bill allocates $443,000 toward a GW-sponsored summer program for D.C. public or charter school seniors interested in pursuing health careers.

The earmark will aid a four-week precollege matriculation summer course – the D.C. Health and Academic Prep Program – hosted by GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The program will cater to 20 low-income high school seniors selected through a competitive selection process.

“This program is providing opportunities for underrepresented students that they would never have had,” said GW staff member Emily Morrison, the coordinator of the program. “We are cultivating the local youth and their talents despite the inequities that may have existed in their lives.”

Three SMHS students and two students from GW’s physician assistant and public health dual master’s program will serve as mentors for the students during the summer and for the entirety of their academic careers.

“As a mentor I am looking forward to building a relationship with the kids that will help them become successful in the future,” said Chris Riley, a mentor and first-year medical student. “I hope to be an additional resource in their life whether it be academically or on a social aspect.”

He added, “More than teaching, I hope that I am an inspiration for the students to continue their career goals and to keep reaching for the sky.”

Each week of DC HAPP will consist of college study skill preparation, case-based sessions modeled after SMHS teaching methods and a field trip, ensuring that scholars explore the many facets of medical careers.

“The program is worthwhile, it involves GW and the community and it has sustaining value,” principal investigator of the grant and SMHS Dean Yolanda Haywood said. “We are hoping to break down barriers.”

Once completing the program, each scholar is entitled to a $1,000 stipend and eligible for an $8,750 college scholarship. The earmark covers only the next two summers, with $300,000 for this summer and $141,000 for next summer, Haywood said.

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