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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Health Science LEAP benefits original graduates, current students

From a corps of about 30 students who began the Health Sciences LEAP program at the U four years ago, only four graduated on the LEAP track-but all of the graduates began careers in health care this year.

The program was started in 2001 to assist students, particularly those from minority backgrounds with educational, social or economic disadvantages, in pursuing health science professions.

“The main goal was to provide a four-year pipeline through college linking programs like Health Professions Academy in high school with graduate education,” Carolyn Bliss, LEAP program director, said.

“Health Sciences LEAP realized the importance of developing different skills and character dimensions in students who want to be a part of the health sciences,” said Anmy Tran Mayfield, a nursing student who completed the program.

The 2001 students made up the initial class, but the program is ongoing, Bliss said, with changes made each year to fix problems they have seen in previous years.

“I had a really good experience doing community service, which normally I might not get a chance (to do) if I hadn’t known about this program,” said Jun Luo, a first year medical student who completed the program.

When students complete the program, they are awarded a “Health Sciences Scholar” seal on their degree certificates.

Luo said the LEAP program helped him determine which path to take in the health field.

“This program not only helped me find what I wanted to do in life, but it also taught me a great deal about a lot of life skills,” Luo said.

Luo said he improved his study habits and learned the importance of not getting discouraged and finishing what he has started.

Besides the experience benefits, Mayfield said it was a great support system because of the small class sizes.

“This group becomes friends, sees (itself as) a unit faster than any other group, and so (its members) get the benefits of community faster,” Bliss said. “This is a way (for members) to have the support, encouragement and cohort that they need.” Program participants have two seminar classes the first year. The fall seminar focuses on minorities who bridged the gap in their careers; the spring seminar focuses on ethical philosophy and links those ideas to current issues in medicine.

In the second year of the program, students shadow professionals in their future fields and hear lectures about current issues in health.

The third year gives students the opportunity to work in paid research lab positions and write about their research in a form appropriated from medical journals. The student’s research is then published in the U’s research journal and presented at the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

In the last year of the program, students must research, propose, implement and evaluate yearlong service projects by looking at a community’s assets and needs. Then the students present their research at the Undergraduate Research Opportunities conference.

Sunny Nakae-Gibson, director of the Office of Diversity & Community Outreach, said students are only admitted during their freshman year and cannot join the program midway through.

Students interested in getting an application for next fall should contact Zeta Tsagaris at (801) 587-9917.

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