Last June, Senior Skylar Mower and sophomores Trinity Cook and Brooke Newtown attended the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Mass. Over two and a half days, they listened to Nobel Prize winners, Google and Intel science competition winners, educators, and motivational speakers. They attended sessions that talked about medical fields and how to get into competitive college programs.
The three young women agree, the event changed their lives.
“I grew up a lot in two and a half days. I am thinking more about the future and what I want to do,” Brooke said.
“I definitely know what I want to be now. I learned I can’t handle surgery. I want to become a psychologist or a pharmacist.”
Like Brooke, Skylar learned more about her personal interests. She plans to pursue a nursing at SUNY Delhi after CVA, but even that is now up in the air.
“It makes me want to go into research. Many of the speakers started their research in high school. I want to be a nurse, but there is so much more. It makes you think,” she said.
All three agreed the trip opened their eyes to seemingly unlimited opportunities.
“A lot more is possible than I thought before. I thought you have to wait until after high school to start a career,” Trinity said.
Planning a future
One of the biggest challenges for students is deciding on their futures. The media is filled with tales of wasted college classes and tuition, college loans for career paths never followed, and time lost trying to figure out what to do with life.
For Brooke, Skylar and Trinity, the congress helped them develop a focus and a sense of excitement for their futures.
“It was very motivational and very informative. We started at eightish in the morning and went to 11 at night,” said Trinity.
Brooke said every moment was high energy. They heard the word “energy” 50 times a day.
They heard Carmen Blandin Tarleton tell her inspirational story of physical and emotional recovery. She received a face transplant after her husband disfigured her with a baseball bat and burned 80 percent of her body with industrial strength lye. They heard 18-year-old Stanford University student Paige Brown discuss her high school research to develop a cost-effective way to remove phosphorus from storm water systems before it can pollute streams and rivers. They watched a live feed of a Boston surgeon performing a hip replacement. From 30 miles away, the surgeon explained the procedure and answered student questions as he worked.
As an added bonus, they had a chance to interact with students from across the country. Some of those conversations revealed the wealth of opportunities available to students in more affluent school districts. Although Central Valley lacks such a wide range of classes and resources, all three admit that most students don’t take advantage of all CVA has to offer.
One drawback to the program is its cost. Program fees, travel, and hotels can total more than $1,500. Although expensive, Brooke, Skylar, and Trinity are thankful their parents enabled them to attend. What they learned and the people they met have given them a new perspective on and focus for their futures.