The University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Medicine recently hosted the John P. Freeman Future Leaders in STEM Program White Coat Ceremony. The program is a year-long initiative to promote access to STEM education for children in grades 3-8 at the John P. Freeman School of Choice in Memphis.
With a focus on science literacy, career exploration, and the development of STEM identities, the program provides a dynamic and supportive environment for students to collaborate and explore their interests in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Melissa Collins, EdD, Chair of the School’s STEM Committee and 2022-2023 Tennessee Teacher of the Year, and Alina Nico West, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, 2019. founded the program. They shared a vision to create an engaging and creative space where students could develop their critical and creative thinking skills while discovering the world around them and engaging in research and problem solving through collaborative STEM projects.
The White Coat Ceremony at UTHSC represented a significant step in recognizing the achievements and potential of these young future STEM leaders. More than 40 UTHSC College of Medicine students who will participate in the program’s mentorship training led by Drs. West.
UTHSC Chancellor Peter Buckley, MD, and other faculty recognized the importance of educating the next generation of scientists and healthcare professionals. Through this partnership, UTHSC aims to inspire and empower young minds to pursue careers in STEM, ultimately contributing to healthcare advancements and scientific discoveries.
The College of Medicine’s participation in the John P. Freeman Future STEM Club White Coat Leaders Ceremony demonstrates its commitment to fostering community engagement and inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders.
Elementary students also interacted with sponsors from MLGW and Universal Engineering Sciences, Inc. Interestingly, the ceremony was held at the Nash Building on the Memphis campus, where Dr. West began his research career more than 30 years ago.
“We believe that STEM is all around us, and we can use this perspective to create an engaging and supportive environment that can ignite these young students’ passion for STEM,” said Dr. “We wanted to create a space where students could really dream. We hope to develop critical thinking and collaboration skills, curiosity, leadership and a sense of personal development as they are taught in exciting projects this year and work to explore their interests in science, medicine and other STEM related fields.
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