The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-8032; fax (319) 335-8034

Release: Immediate

Waterloo students visit UI to learn about health sciences

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Twenty-nine students from the Waterloo school district are learning about the health sciences at the McElroy Summer Science Camp on the University of Iowa campus June 15-28.

The project, a collaboration between the UI and the Waterloo school district, is intended to address Iowa's need for more minority health care practitioners by introducing young minority students to college life and health science careers.

During the two-week camp, the ninth- and 10th-grade students are introduced to health professions through a series of guest speakers and field trips. They also learn how to promote their own health and the health of others.

A $15,000 grant from the McElroy Trust allows the UI to offer the camp. According to Dr. Benny Hawkins, UI professor of dentistry and camp co-director, the grant opens the door for students who could not afford to attend otherwise.

Although the camp is targeted at economically disadvantaged and minority students, there are other requirements for admission. Of 65 applicants, 30 students who demonstrated an interest in science and were highly recommended by their teachers were selected.

A committee of Waterloo educators and UI faculty and staff worked together to develop the camp and select the participants. The UI members listened carefully to the school district's ideas, Hawkins says.

"The project was under the direction of the school district," he says. "It was not the UI running it."

Waterloo-area committee members include the principals of all three high schools, an administrator from the school district, a high school counselor and a representative from the University of Northern Iowa Center for Urban Education. UI committee members are Hawkins, UI Associate Vice President for Health Professions Education and camp co-director Dr. Elizabeth Swanson, and Opportunity at Iowa staff member and camp coordinator Lew Montgomery.

Hawkins said the camp is unique because it covers all the health sciences, rather than focusing on just one area. During their two weeks at the UI, the students will be exposed to careers in dentistry, pharmacy, nursing and medicine. They will also learn about the physical therapy and physician assistant programs, the UI Hygienic Laboratory, the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, magnetic resonance imaging and other medical imaging facilities, and the UIHC emergency room and burn treatment center.

The first week of camp has gone very well, according to Montgomery. "There has been a tremendous amount of enthusiasm about the program," he says. "The university has been tremendously responsive to having the kids on campus."