Local students attend KUMC leadership program





For two Garden City High School students, a recent trip to the University of Kansas Medical Center solidified their decisions to enter the health care field after graduation.

"It was amazing," Corinna Lemke, a junior at GCHS, said. "We got to see the cadaver lab and research labs. It was really interesting, but probably, one of the most interesting parts is we got to go to a college class with some of the KU med students there and learn about how they learn. They learn differently than us.

"They do modules, so they'll do like four weeks on the brain and then test on it, and then four weeks on the lymph nodes, then test on that."

Lemke and Chaitali Marwaha, a senior at GCHS, were among 12 other female students from across the state selected to participate in a University of Kansas Medical Center statewide leadership program, "Women in Health care: The Next Generation," in early November at KUMC.

"A couple of months ago, we opened the contest to anybody and then we took applications from the whole state," Seth Nutt, KUMC's senior coordinator for health career promotion, said. "We ended up with about 30 applications, and then people at KU voted on them."

He said the application required students to write essays answering the following questions: one, their motivation for wanting to participate in the program, and two, what they expected to gain. The girls also had to share their career goals and explain why they are interested in health and sciences.

Both girls said they were pleasantly surprised to hear they had been chosen for the program, which is designed to encourage women to become leaders in health care. It also gave the students the opportunity to interact with health care professionals, students and faculty at KUMC and to attend classes with KUMC representatives from the KU Women in Medicine and Science chapter.

"With so few health care providers in most parts of the state, this program is a unique opportunity for young women to interface with a concentrated group of leaders and role models, many of whom are women," Mary Beth Warren, director of KU Medical Center's Area Health Education Center, said. "Through this event, we also want to inspire the best and the brightest to excel in whatever health field they eventually choose."¬ ¬ 

Marwaha wants to get into neuropsychology, a branch of psychology and neurology that aims to understand how the structure and function of the brain relate to specific psychological processes. She said the experience made her realize she also wants to be a general practitioner, so she can help people in a more face-to-face manner.

Such reasons drove both girls' interest in a career in the health care field.

"My uncle and my grandpa were both family physicians, so I want to be a family physician to carry on the tradition," Lemke said.

Lemke also wants to practice medicine in a rural community, preferably Garden City, to provide greater access to people who need it.

Marwaha said an experience with her mother inspired her to enter the health care field.

"When I was around 5 1/2 years old, my mom got pneumonia and the doctors came and told us she won't live anymore," Marwaha said.

Doctors told the family they could try surgery, but there was only a 50 percent chance her mother would survive, since 75 percent of both of her lungs were damaged.

"And at that time, my dad went to a different doctor, searched around and found one particular doctor and he did the surgery, and that's when my mom got saved and I was like, 'Oh, I want to help people, too,'" Marwaha said.

Marwaha currently is taking a certified nursing assistant course at Garden City Community College while attending the Trade and Health Sciences Academy at GCHS. Her hope is to obtain an associate's degree at GCCC and then qualify for a scholarship to allow her to attend KUMC.

Lemke also hopes to attend KUMC, but said she also is open to attending Kansas State University because of the research possibilities available there.

Both girls said they were grateful to their Allied Health teacher, Jane Schneider, and her husband, Mitchell Schneider, a physical education teacher at GCHS, for sharing the information about the program and encouraging them to apply.

"They're my favorite teachers. They really care about their students and their fields," Lemke said.

"Women in Health Care: The Next Generation" is an annual program. Applications, which include an essay, are due in the fall each year. For more information on this program and other AHEC programs for Kansas high school students, visit www.kumc.edu/ku-ahec.

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