The PCOM Science and Math Summer Academy, now in its 2nd year, is designed to foster
interest in STEM+M careers in minority students.
This week, PCOM kicked off its second annual summer program aimed at improving diversity
in the STEM+M fields (science, tech, engineering, math and medicine) by enhancing
awareness of, and interest in, careers in those fields among African-American and
Latino students from Olney Charter High School.
The PCOM Science and Math Summer Academy (formerly known as PCOM Opportunities Academy) will span two weeks, and the rigorous curriculum will give students hand-selected
by partner institutions ASPIRA, Inc. of Pennsylvania (which oversees Olney) and Esperanza
College the opportunity to augment and accelerate their STEM+M skills, learn about
the college and medical school admissions process, explore career possibilities, and
learn interactively in PCOM’s clinical simulation and anatomy labs and on field trips.
Rising 10th grade students applied to the program, and were selected for participation
based on criteria including academic performance, demonstrated perseverance and drive,
and a strong interest in the STEM+M fields.
Each day, the Summer Academy focuses on a different health topic and is led by PCOM
faculty and medical and biomedical sciences students. In the program’s first week,
students learned about the cardiovascular system with Cathy Hatcher, PhD, assistant professor, neuroscience, physiology and pharmacology; and the central
nervous system with Denah Appelt, PhD, professor, neuroscience, physiology and pharmacology.
As coordinator of the Summer Academy, Dr. Appelt also oversaw the development of its
“The goal of the program is to create a pipeline with our partners at ASPIRA Schools
and Esperanza College that helps foster interest in, and awareness of, STEM+M careers
at the earliest stages, and to help support students and inspire them to pursue their
interest in these fields,” she said. “Our hope is that these students feel empowered
to follow their dreams.”
Surveys from last year’s participants indicated that 57 percent said their plans after
high school had changed since taking part, and 62 percent said they were now considering
going to medical school.
“We want to raise the level of interest in all STEM+M fields among students of color,”
said Marcine Pickron-Davis, PhD, chief diversity officer. The Office of Diversity oversees the program at PCOM. “Our overall goal is to increase diversity in those
fields, but we would love to see them applying to PCOM for medical school.”
During its second week, the Summer Academy will focus on infectious diseases in sessions
led by Dawn Shell, PhD, associate professor, pathology and microbiology; cancer, in
sessions led by Heather Montie, PhD, assistant professor, biomedical sciences; and diabetes, in sessions led by Arturo Bravo Nuevo, PhD, associate professor, neuroscience. First- and second-year DO students from PCOM
also assist with the sessions.
Summer Academy participants will also take field trips to the Franklin Institute,
one of Philadelphia’s leading scientific institutions, and to Esperanza College of
Eastern University, Pennsylvania’s first Hispanic Serving Institution, where they
will learn about life as an undergraduate student, from Nilsa Graciani, PhD, director
of science, math and medical assisting at Esperanza College. “We are excited to be
involved in this collaboration that has a potential to make a much needed difference
in our communities. With the right amount of support, encouragement, and opportunities,
all students, regardless of their background or ethnicity, should be able to succeed,”
said Dr. Graciani.
"We want to thank the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) team for
their faith in our community and commitment to building the Latino and African American
presence within the STEM-M field. It is through partnerships like ours that Olney
Charter High School students will become the home grown leaders they are meant to
be," said Andrea Gonzalez-Kirwin, superintendent of ASPIRA Schools.
The Summer Academy marks the cornerstone of a partnership that spans the academic
year, with PCOM faculty collaborating with faculty from ASPIRA Schools and Esperanza
College on professional and curriculum development and the establishment of practicum
and research opportunities.
Students from Olney Charter High School also participate in the College’s annual Research
Day, and year-round in its affiliations with national programs such as the Health
Professions Recruitment Exposure Program and the Perry Initiative. Students from Esperanza
College’s Science and Medical Assisting programs are provided access to PCOM’s laboratories
and simulated clinical environments. ASPIRA Schools also serve as clinical practicum
sites for PCOM’s School Psychology graduate programs.
The PCOM Science and Math Summer Academy received funding from the 3M Foundation,
AstraZeneca, CSL Behring, Teva Pharmaceuticals and the VWR Foundation.
About Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
For the past 125 years, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) has trained
thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral
scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just
symptoms. PCOM, a private, not-for-profit accredited institution of higher education,
operates three campuses (PCOM, PCOM Georgia and PCOM South Georgia) and offers doctoral degrees in clinical psychology, educational psychology, osteopathic
medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, and school psychology. The college also offers
graduate degrees in applied behavior analysis, applied positive psychology, biomedical
sciences, forensic medicine, medical laboratory science, mental health counseling,
physician assistant studies, and school psychology. PCOM students learn the importance
of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its
community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations.
For more information, visit pcom.edu or call 215-871-6100.
Daniel McCunney Associate Director, News and Media Relations Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Office: 215-871-6304 | Cell:
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About ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania Schools
ASPIRA Inc. of Pennsylvania Schools are community-based and serve the Hunting Park
and North Philadelphia neighborhoods where our organization began. It is our mission
to empower students through advocacy, education and leadership development. ASPIRA
of PA Schools aim to produce youth who, upon graduation, identify as bi-cultural and
socially conscious individuals dedicated to service. We concentrate student efforts
within a comprehensive and supportive educational setting where rigorous teaching
and learning is the foundation of high expectations for all.
About Esperanza College
The mission of Esperanza College, a Christian college program dedicated to the service
of the Hispanic and local communities, is to enhance the knowledge, skills, and outlook
of young people and adults so that they can live even more thoughtful, positive, productive,
and purposeful lives. We achieve our mission through the integration of faith, reason,
and justice and acknowledge the importance of forming this integration within the
academic program, in its instruction, and in the learning of our students, in order
to: 1) develop a Christian worldview that informs intellect, attitude, and behavior;
2) sharpen skills of critical thinking, reflection, and analysis, as well as linguistic
and communication skills; 3) appreciate the sources, values and contributions of Latino
and surrounding cultures to our school that lead to the enhancement of the spiritual,
social, and economic well-being of the individual, the family, and the community.