West­lake biomed­i­cal stu­dents re­ceive white lab coats

Cer­e­mony marks com­plet­ing more than half of pro­gram

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JamieACIndyNews

Twenty-four ju­niors and se­niors in West­lake High School’s Pro­ject Lead the Way bio­med­i­cine pro­gram were hon­ored Nov. 10 for be­ing more than half­way through their stud­ies with pris­tine, white lab coats in recog- ni­tion of their achieve­ments.

West­lake Prin­ci­pal Mi- chael Meiser said re­cent ad­vances in the neu­ro­science and biomed­i­cal fields in­clude de­vel­op­ing means for al­low­ing para- lyzed sub­jects to walk and cre­at­ing ar­ti­fi­cial hands for am­putees.

“This is what biomed­i­cal science and neu­ro­science are do­ing. This is what we hope one of these 24, or all 24 of these kids, are go­ing to tie into and have an im- pact on our fu­ture,” Meiser said, telling the stu­dents, “I’m ex­cited to see where you guys will go.”

Key­note speaker Kerry Clark, deputy di­rec­tor of ex­plo­sive ord­nance en­gi­neer­ing with the U.S. Na- vy’s Naval Sea Sys­tems Com­mand, brought her own dirty, wrin­kled lab coat, and said the mark of a suc­cess­ful sci­en­tist is how non-pris­tine their new lab coats will be­come.

“This lab coat is pretty dis­gust­ing, but it’s mine,” Clark said. “If this lab coat could talk, what would it show? It would show late nights, cold pizza, stale coffee, flat Moun­tain Dew, overnights in the lab … This rep­re­sents me as a chemist. If this lab coat could talk, it would say, ‘This is a chemist; this is a darned good chemist.’”

Clark also serves as a mem­ber of the Pro­fes­sional Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil for Charles County Pub­lic Schools’ biomed­i­cal pro­gram.

“When you get your lab coats, you’re sup­posed to live in it, and learn in it, and love in it, and get it dirty and have those suc- cesses, and have those fail­ures, and grow, and have an amaz­ingly, friendly, warm, dis­gust­ing lab coat,” Clark told stu­dents.

Pro­ject Lead the Way, or PLTW, is a na­tional non- profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that pro­vides STEM (science, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics) re­lat- ed cur­ric­ula to schools across the coun­try, ac- cord­ing to its web­site.

Stu­dents com­plet­ing the biomed pro­gram may be el­i­gi­ble for col­lege credit or schol­ar­ships at par­tici- pat­ing schools.

White coat cer­e­monies for stu­dents in the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion are a re­cent tra­di­tion, dat­ing back to the 1980s at Chi- cago Univer­sity, and are used to mark a stu­dent’s tran­si­tion from the study of pre­clin­i­cal to clin­i­cal health sci­ences, said West­lake Vice Prin­ci­pal Philip Jones.

“You have ded­i­cated your lives to this field so far, and so it is our hope that you will take these coats with you over the next year or two years, and off to col­lege and into the lab,” Jones told stu­dents. “They are not to re­main on hang­ers, they are to be used, they are to be proud of.”

“You are our fu­ture,” biomed teacher Jean Benedetti told stu­dents. “We’re go­ing to look to you to take care of us, and some­day you’re go­ing to do just that.”

West­lake ju­nior Mia Tal­ley said she joined the biomed pro­gram be­cause she wants to pur­sue a ca­reer in phys­i­cal ther­apy. She said the pro­gram is chal­leng­ing.

“The tests get harder and harder, so you real- ly have to study,” Tal­ley said.

Alyssa Perkins said she joined the biomed pro­gram be­cause she wants to pur­sue a ca­reer as a pe­di­atric sur­geon.

“I knew the biomed pro­gram had a hands-on as- pect that could re­ally take me places,” Perkins said.

She said the pro­gram comes with a heavy work­load. “There is a lot of work to do in a cer- tain amount of days, but most peo­ple in the pro­gram, as long as you’re de­ter­mined, you can get through it, so it’s not too big a prob­lem,” noted.

Caitlin Ad­di­son, a se­nior at West­lake, said she joined the pro­gram be­cause she wished to be­come a ge­neti­cist.

“My sec­ond year was most in­ter­est­ing, be­cause we learned all about the hu­man body sys­tems, the bones, the car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem, all that, and it was cool to learn about what’s in­side of you,” Ad­di­son said. Perkins

She said she would def­i­nitely rec­om­mend the pro­gram to any stu­dent con­sid­er­ing en­ter­ing the biomed­i­cal field.

“I would say def­i­nitely do it, be­cause it’s a cool ex­pe­ri­ence and you def­i­nitely get a lot out of it,” she said.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing their white coats, stu­dents shared a read­ing of a mod­ern ver­sion of the Hip­po­cratic Oath.

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