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By Bernadette Russoniello

Bernadette Russoniello

Summer is usually the time for students (and teachers) to take a much-deserved break from work and studies. Families frequently travel; reunions and family barbecues dominate the schedule. For these Maricopa High School students, academic experiences and application-based learning dominated the short summer break.

Freya Abraham at TGen

Freya Abraham
Program: TGen BioScience Leadership Academy*
Location: TGen Institute, Phoenix
Length: Two weeks, business work days
Size: 20 students
Focus: Broaden understanding of bioscience field and connections to the medical community, patients and medical data/research
Highlight: Shadowing researchers and laboratory directors; bioscience incubation lab for biomedical entrepreneurs; visiting PhoneixNAP, host of supercomputers for the area
Insight: Inspiring experience at the Center for Rare Childhood Disorders, learning first-hand the power and impact of genetic sequencing to identify rare conditions and helping patients/doctors get immediate help and support
Achievements: Awarded Outstanding Student, class-elected speaker

* Freya also participated in the Future Health Leaders of Arizona and Arizona Girls State


Airen Fortunato
Program: Future Health Leaders of Arizona
Location: Arizona State University’s downtown campus
Length: 1 week, overnight stay in dormitories
Size: 40 students
Focus: Learning about health careers, experiential activities, college admissions, sports medicine and food science
Highlight: Touring facilities including SimLabs
Insight: There are so many career fields within medicine; be open to options. There’s plenty of time. You don’t need to have it all worked out at this moment.

Madyson Hampson
Program: Project Puente
Location: University of Arizona Agricultural Center, Maricopa Center
Length: Eight weeks, business work days
Size: 25 students
Focus: Evaluating data from the EPA for pesticide usage
Highlight: Real work, lab-based research, earning three college credits and a small stipend; working side-by-side with scientists and researchers
Insight: There’s so much more to agriculture than tractors and farms.

Breanna Fitch
Program: MedStart
Location: University of Arizona
Length: Six weeks, overnight in dormitories
Size: 50 students (400 applicants)
Focus: Learn about medical careers, receive basic first aid, CPR and medical training including suturing
Highlight: Presentations from medical professionals, toured multiple state universities, participated in hospital observations
Insight: Inspired my personal plan and provided direction for college and career
Achievement: Recognized as Most Determined Writer

Saige Horsely
Program: National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine
Location: University of California-Berkeley
Length: Nine days, overnight in dormitories
Size: 100 students
Focus: Exposure to medical careers and fields
Highlight: Speakers, surgical observations, EMT training, wilderness survival
Insight: Reinforced medical career interest, expanded field of work consideration, provided quality contacts and networking
Achievement: Outstanding EMT award

Angello Gianni Hernandez-De La Pena
Program: Summer Academy for Math and Science
Location: Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Length: Six weeks, overnight in dormitories
Size: 130 students
Focus: College level coursework delivered through summer experience at top-tier university; Computer Science, Calculus I, Game Development and SAT Prep
Highlight: Speakers from the university system, earn college credits at Carnegie Mellon, tips and benefits to college admissions process, free
Insight: Cemented interest in computer science as both a college major and career choice
Achievement: 10 college credits from Carnegie Mellon University

Aylleen Alvarez (right) with State Treasurer Kimberly Yee

Aylleen Alvarez
Program: Arizona Girls State
Location: University of Arizona
Length: One week, overnight in dormitories
Size: 300 female students
Focus: Women in politics, government, legislation and policy
Highlight: Speakers; develop a business, city and county; provide leadership, justice and decision-making
Insight: Great experience but reinforced that politics was not for me
Achievement: Best Store in County

Yasmeen Hanania and Daniela Romero
Program: WP Carey Fleischer’s Scholars Program
Location: Arizona State University
Length: Seven days, overnight in dormitories
Size: 30 students
Focus: Exposure to business and entrepreneurship
Highlight: Met Mort Fleischer (billionaire businessman), innovate an original idea and pitch to investors
Student Insight: Navigating college admissions, scholarship opportunities, applied learning and networking opportunities

This article appears in the September issue of InMaricopa.