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Proviso East High School Students Come to UIC to Imagine their Futures in the Health Sciences

a groups photo of all students and faculty who participated in the event, all gathered in the robotic surgery lab
a large group of diverse high schools students in winter attire and wearing bright red UIC backpacks walking down a brightly lit and colorfully decorated hallway in the robotic surgery lab

On Wednesday, January 17th, on one of the coldest days of the year, a group of 64 students from Proviso East High School in Maywood, Illinois, were invited to UIC to learn about opportunities in the health sciences and a future in health care.

These students were in for a full day of activities spearheaded by Dr. Phyllis Hayes, Assistant Vice Chancellor for External Engagement in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, who worked with Maria Garcia and her team from the UIC Office of Enrollment Managements to plan an exciting and engaging day for these young minds. Dr. Hayes has a long history of building strong relationships across Chicago, primarily focused on high school students from underrepresented communities, to introduce them to the health sciences and STEM disciplines and to spark their imaginations about their futures.

The itinerary for our young visitors and prospective UIC students began with a welcome from Dr. Sandy Wayne, Dean of the College of Business, and remarks from current UIC students who shared their college experiences and answered questions. You could see the connection the Proviso East students were making as they listened to our students speak about their own goals, aspirations and accomplishments at UIC. They could easily see themselves in our students who made a strong impression on them.

a large group of students turning to look at a digital display in the lab

Next, our guests loaded onto UIC buses to visit the College of Medicine’s Surgical Innovation Training Lab (SITL).

Dr. Liaohai Chen, professor in the department of surgery, and his residents hosted a 20-minute lecture on the impact of robotics assisted surgery. Dr. Chen and his team spoke about the history of robotics as they’ve been applied to surgery and discussed the differences between traditional surgery and the use of technology to enhance the capabilities of surgeons by using mechanical arms and devices as an option to traditional surgery. After the presentation, our visiting students had the opportunity to take turns using the robotic arms in a simulated surgical setting.

Then they moved on to the UIC College of Nursing and the M. Christine Schwartz Experiential Learning & Simulation Laboratory, where they were able to explore several state-of-the-art simulation environments used to teach future nursing professional including the10-bed lab featuring fully equipped functional head wall units and up-to-date technology which can also be converted to a simulated ER.

Finally, they completed their tour with a visit to the UIC Flames Athletic Center, the Makerspace Roosevelt Road Building, and a special luncheon.

Bringing these young people to UIC for a day of discovery has opened them up to a wide range of opportunities for their own futures. UIC and UI Health are committed to continuing our community outreach and collaboration with high schools such as Proviso East and West and other community organizations. In this way, we are putting UIC on their radar and establishing a pathway in their minds to enrollment.

One of the university’s goals is to introduce and expose students from historically marginalized communities, who may not have considered the healthcare profession, to an endless array of careers primarily focused on healthcare. This is crucial to bringing diversity to the city’s health care system and to health care systems throughout the state and country.

There are plenty of thanks to go around for all the participants who made this day an extraordinary one for the students from Proviso East, and especially Dr. Hayes and Ms. Garcia for their efforts to plan an exciting experience for what we hope will be UIC alumni and the health care leaders of the future.