On Saturday April 6, 2019, we hosted our 16th Annual High School Outreach Conference at UCSF. Our theme was space and our tag line was “Explore the Unknown at UCSF.” In alignment with our theme, we invited the high school students to reach above and beyond their limits, to really get out of their comfort zones. We welcomed them to participate and engage in every activity we had planned for them. We reminded them to reach for the stars, to ask all of their questions, and to remain curious.
Although we have been hosting this event at UCSF for 16 years now, a lot of people still do not know what the High School Outreach Conference is. This year, we had our first ever videography committee and we will release a new promotional video since there hasn’t been on in nine years. For those that do not know, the High School Outreach Conference is an event in which we bring hundreds of high school students from the Bay Area to UCSF for a fun, educational day where they can learn more about the different healthcare professions.
This year, we had a planning committee of 23 students from the 7 different programs: Clinical Lab Sciences, Dentistry, Graduate Division, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Physical Therapy. The day of our event, we had over 100 volunteers distributed throughout the day that helped with set up, registration, the different demonstrations or activities, clean up, etc. We were also lucky enough to have DDS/PhD student Shaun Abrams and Clinical Pharmacist Dr. Cocohoba present speak with the high school students about their journeys, offer advice, and inspire the high school students.
Speaking with the high school students reminded me of when I was in high school and when I had dreams of going to dental school. At the end of the event, it sounded like students became more certain of either wanting or not wanting to pursue a career in healthcare. My goals for the students were to have them discover, learn, and grow. I hope that this conference allowed the high school students to get one step closer toward their dreams.
At the end of the conference after our evaluations and raffle were over, I decided to speak to some of the high school students. There was one student that said, “I did learn a lot. I know that I do not want to go into medicine.” Although this student did not find an interest in a career in healthcare, this student became more certain in their path for the future. That is what the event is meant to do. It is meant to not only inspire the next generation of healthcare providers but to also allow these high school students an opportunity to learn more about themselves and their options for their own futures. I also received numerous emails from parents thanking us for hosting this event, stating that their child got into their car after the conference and said that they were interested in a career in healthcare and did not know that they had so many options before. Commentary like this emphasized how much of a difference we made and how significant the High School Outreach Conference is.
For me, one major takeaway that came from organizing this conference was the importance of teamwork. The High School Outreach Conference ran very smoothly, but it was only because of the team that we had and the leadership that came before me. The previous ADEA Outreach Coordinators, K.C. Hemstreet, Brittany Zhang, etc., paved an incredible path for us to work with and grow from. I was reminded yet again that in your efforts and pursuits, it is vital to bring other people in. Do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it. You will be surprised with how much you can accomplish when you collaborate.
Keep reaching for the stars.