Howard University Hosts 'Day of Discovery' for Middle School Students

WASHINGTON - Over 70 middle school students and parents from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington visited the Howard University colleges of Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, and Allied Health Sciences for a day of discovery on Friday, Nov. 1, to hear from Howard students and faculty why they should consider careers in health sciences.

The tour, titled the "Rebecca Lee Crumpler Morning of Discovery," was the third in the series of events sponsored by the Percy Julian Institute. The institute is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics program for middle school children interested in the fields of medicine and science.

Students were provided breakfast and a series of health presentations in the morning in Howard University Hospital. After lunch, they were divided into groups before touring the various colleges.

Dr. Donna Grant-Mills, an associate professor in the College of Dentistry and one of the tour facilitators, said it was important that the students see all of the health sciences units to understand how they fit together.

"Inter-professional education collaboration is now becoming the frontline of the health science departments," Grant-Mills said. "We don't practice solely as dentists or doctors or pharmacists anymore. Now we see our disciplines as a collaborative team, all of us working seamlessly as a unit to advocate proper healthcare."

In the College of Dentistry, dental hygiene students provided poster presentations for the middle school students to view. The presentations were on a variety of dental subjects, from dental forensics to the effects of hookah smoking. The dental hygiene students engaged the middle school students in the poster presentations before leading them to the other departments in the College of Dentistry.

At the end of the dental tour, students and parents were given gift bags with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and a pamphlet detailing the Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program offered by Howard University.

Lauretta Miles, a mother from Charlestown, Md., whose seventh grade son wants to be an animal scientist, said she was glad she and her son came.

"I believe it's an excellent program," said Miles, who, along with her son, has attended every event this year. "It allows the kids to see where all they can go now instead of getting to college and trying to figure it all out then."

Grant-Mills also sees the program as a good way to get middle school students to think of the future.

"If, at this age, students can build an interest in science inter-professionally," Grant-Mills said, "it will give them a deeper understanding of health that isn't fragmented. They will see how it all connects."

Created in 2011, the institute is a part of the Daniel Alexander Payne Community Development Corporation, a Maryland corporation that supports for charitable and educational programs.

"Black kids don't usually get this experience," said Gladys Gary Vaughn, chairman of the corporation's board of directors. "That's why we wanted them to come to the university to see the equipment, see the students and ask questions. We involve the parents so they know how to prepare their children for these college career paths now."

The program is named Rebecca Lee Crumpler, the first African-American woman to become in physician in the United States, as a way of providing hope to the participants. Students from STEM schools throughout the Washington area attended. Those schools included Dorothy I. Height Community Academy Public Charter Schools and Howard University Middle School for Math and Science, both in northwest Washington, Walker Mill Middle School and Greenbelt Middle School, both in Prince George's County, Md., and Gunston Middle School in Arlington, Va.

Error in news search box