Clinical Informatics Hosts STEM Symposium for Local High Schoolers
In May, the Office of Clinical Informatics (OCI) hosted a STEM Symposium for local high schoolers showing interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. A joint effort between Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) and the Del Valle High School STEM Academy, the symposium was created to encourage borderland natives to pursue careers in health care and biomedical sciences — fields in which El Pasoans are vastly underrepresented.
High schoolers learned about the medical, nursing, and biomedical sciences programs available in their own community by listening to personal success stories from native El Pasoans and soon-to-be-graduates of TTUHSC El Paso. The keynote speakers, including Chief Medical Officer Ogechika Alozie, M.D., M.P.H., CPHIMS, addressed the 185-student academy in hopes of setting the students on the path to applying to TTUHSC El Paso in the future.
It’s no secret that minorities are majorly underrepresented in STEM fields — a trend that the university hopes to address by reaching out to young learners in the community.
“Education today is no longer local or regional; it is global and STEM promotion allows students to compete on a global stage, providing them with the needed skills to compete in careers that provide economic mobility,” said Dr. Alozie. “If we in El Paso are able to overcome the U.S. math and science rankings, local students who may be more apt to stay local can create a human resource talent pool that enhances the El Paso economy long-term.”
To help illustrate the connection between health care and real issues in their community, symposium organizers tasked the students with creating a mini poster using a STEM field to address a community issue. Poster projects included converting recyclables into biocrude fuel; combating light pollution with LED lights; and using STEM principles to research the autoimmune disease immunodysregulation polyendocrinopathy enteropathy X-linked (IPEX) syndrome.
The symposium concluded with an award ceremony recognizing three of the students for their mini STEM posters. Prizes were donated by the OCI team.