Grade 12 student at Medicine Hat High, Maria Fernanda Perez, and Grade 8 student from Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre, Harman Singh, both participated in the level one pre-med Harvard Academy. MHN PHOTO SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Harvard Student Agencies were recently offered for Grade 7-12 students in the Medicine Hat Public School Division.

Corey Sadlemyer, associate superintendent inclusive mindset explained, “We received an enquire from the Harvard student’s agencies. They are a group of undergrads from Harvard, and they run eight different classes each year within four categories – pre-med, pre-law, business/entrepreneurship and computer coding – each at level 1 and level 2. The lower level is a prerequisite for the higher one.”

The programs were run on weekends with level 1 pre-med and coding offered, as the pre-law and business/entrepreneurship classes are U.S. Focused. Saturday focused on theory, the students received overnight homework and worked on a group project on the Sunday, followed by a presentation.

A maximum of 10 students were permitted for each class and all received a certificate from Harvard Student Agencies for completing the course.

“They can stay connected to those people (from Harvard Student Agencies), that is part of the agreement is that they can be mentors.” explained Sadlemyer. “If they have questions later this year or into the future, they can email them.”

The classes are promoted as an enrichment experience and to provide experiences for students they aren’t normally exposed to.

Grade 12 student at Medicine Hat High, Maria Fernanda Perez, had a good experience in the academy. Perez has been accepted to McMaster University as a Bachelor of Science student and hopes to enter medical school in the future.

“Some of (the material) I did know, but even then, I had so much other information thrown at me that I think it was really beneficial.”

Grade 8 student from Dr. Roy Wilson Learning Centre, Harman Singh, was in the same class as Perez with all students covering the same material.

“I found it interesting because they broke down how DNA works, how genes work and how they are carried from person to person all the way down to the sugars,” said Singh. “We talked about how genetic mutations happen, such as monogenic diabetes, what are some risk factors. Overall, it was a fun experience because I got to learn something new and got a certificate for taking the course.”

He also noted the undergraduate Harvard Student Agencies instructors were good at explaining concepts and allowed students enough time to absorb them before moving onto the next topic.

Perez and Singh were in the same group for the final project, which were all on genetic and autoimmune diseases. Each group selected a disease to research and create a presentation on.

Perez was team lead in her group and they chose monogenic diabetes. The group researched how it is passed on, risk factors, ongoing research, treatments and side effects of treatments. They put together a slide show and each member of the group presented different slides. A third party, also from Harvard Student Agencies, joined for the presentation, asked questions and gave feedback.

“It was a great opportunity for me,” said Singh, “because I want to be a doctor when I grow up so having that information will help me in the future.”

Singh plans to take the level 2 course if it is offered in the fall.

Cellular-molecular biology interests Perez, “Which is the major of the student who gave us the pre-med course. I found that really great that he was studying the same thing. He gave us so many insights about it, it was beneficial to me and gave me an idea of what I would be focusing on in my second year.”

By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 19, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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