SMU Students Shaping Young Minds, Year Round
The success of this summer's Youth in Medicine Mentoring Program has Samuel Merritt University students continuing the course year round. Currently the Youth in Medicine program meets in gender specific groups (males in one group, females in another group) every Wednesday evening and provides 15 middle school students with ongoing academic support, mentoring, exposure to careers in healthcare, visual art projects, field-trips, outdoor adventures, and local college tours.
"The mentoring program is designed to support participant's academic and social development during their middle school years," explains Katherine Sullivan, Oakland City Unified School District. "The SMU students become additional caring adults in the girls lives providing them the opportunity to learn about healthcare careers, and the opportunity to get to know university students helps them envision themselves as college students."
Sanjan Ognjenovic, SMU student in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, decided to continue the program because it was an opportunity to transfer her passion and love for nursing to young women. Since October she held open discussion topics on diabetes mellitus, cancer, first aid and CPR for children.
"The subject matter was actually established by the teens themselves. We asked what they wanted to learn about and they came up with this list of serious, important topics like diabetes and cancer. It is something that they encounter regularly in their environment and I believe it is important for them to know how to prevent and manage these diseases."
Youth development research indicates that supportive relationships between young people and caring adults is one of the leading indicators for predicting whether teens will make a safe and healthy transition into adulthood, regardless of their economic circumstances or other risk factors.
"I believe SMU students and the Youth in Medicine Program are giving young teens a great learning opportunity," adds Ognjenovic. "And while children benefit from working with SMU students, I believe the benefit for SMU students is much greater. It is the feeling that in a small but sure way we are changing the world for the better."
Youth in Medicine is a component of Youth Bridge, a 20-year career development program that enables East Bay adolescents to complete high school, gain meaningful employment experience, learn about health-related careers, and pursue further academic and vocational education.
In the next edition of eNews find out how one former Youth in Medicine mentor, who grew up around gang violence and high school dropouts, took the idea of helping young teens to a new level that is helping one student transform his GPA from 1.6 to a 3.0.
View more photos from this story.
Back to front page »