CCOM Holds Annual Mini Medical School for Aspiring Healthcare Students

Midwestern University’s Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM) students hosted local high school students and select undergraduate students from Saint Xavier University.

  • IL - Downers Grove
Aileen Leyva, Andrea Uzdzinski and Noah Cartegena.
(From left to right) Aileen Leyva and Andrea Uzdzinski tied for second place, and Noah Cartegena won first place.

 

Midwestern University's Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM) students hosted local high school students and select undergraduate students from Saint Xavier University in Chicago for the 2023 Mini Medical School, which was held over five weeks. Medical students offered the participating students mentorship and led the exploration into medical careers, organ systems, anatomy, physiology, and first aid. The weekly sessions for the high school and college students covered several topics including cardiology and pulmonology, neurology and orthopedics, infectious disease and immunology, and family, internal, and emergency medicine. The Mini Medical School culminated with poster presentation projects between about 200 mentors and the high school students, which were judged by select Midwestern University faculty and students.

First place in the poster competition went to Noah Cartegena, a junior at Lane Tech College Prep High School who worked with medical student Azaan Khan (CCOM '26) on the project "A 38-Year Old Man with Altered Mental Status and New Onset of Seizures." Two high school students tied for second place, Aileen Leyva and Andrea Uzdzinski. Aileen is a junior at Morton West High School and worked with medical student Mohamed Zaher (CCOM '26) on "A 38-Year-Old Pregnant Woman with Headache and Visual Symptoms." Andrea is a junior at Joliet West High School and worked with medical student Kelsea Kernosek (CCOM) on "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (change in brain functionality) in an Iraqi War Veteran with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) who Committed Suicide."

 

Students presenting their posters to visitors for the CCOM Mini Medical School.
About 200 medical students, high school students, and select undergraduate students from Saint Xavier University gave their poster presentations that lined the lobby of Cardinal Hall.

Medical student and president of Mini Medical Club Nina Pacion (CCOM '26) said, "We have a great team and mentors. The students this year were so engaged. They asked brilliant questions. They wanted to explore different aspects of healthcare. This program is something I didn't have in high school. I would have loved the experience." Nina added the projects were tailored to the students' interests. She also said the medical student mentors "learned more about mentorship and leadership and connected with students and shared their own experiences."

Medical student and co-vice president of the Mini Medical Club Amanda Abrams (CCOM '26) said, "I really enjoy working with young high school students and college students and inspiring them to go after their dreams. The students deserve to feel like they can get wherever they want to go in life."

 

Mathew Lagerstrom and Leslie Garces pose with their poster presentation.
Matthew Lagerstrom (CCOM ’27) worked with Leslie Garces, a junior at Morton West High School on “A Newborn Girl with Hypoglycemia.”

Several mentors and students shared their experiences. Medical student Matthew Lagerstrom (CCOM '27) worked with Leslie Garces, a junior at Morton West High School Leslie said, "It's fun. My mentor was helpful. I have new knowledge in the medical field." Matthew added, "It's been great to work with high school and college students. Inspiring them is rewarding. This was my first time working with people younger than me. I am really enjoying building new relationships."

Medical Student Claire Manhard (CCOM '27) collaborated with Areej Binmahfooz, a junior at Glenbard East High School. Areej said, "I thought Parkison's was interesting. I brought it up to the attention of my mentor, who was supportive." Claire said this experience gives medical students a chance to expand their knowledge and spoke of her experience working with Areej. "We learned the topic together," Claire said and added, "I feel like I'm getting a lot of opportunities for mentorship and working with the community to be a well-rounded person. As a physician, your role in the community is to teach and be a mentor to others."

 

Claire Manhard and Areej Binmahfooz pose with their poster presentation.
Claire Manhard (CCOM ’27) collaborated with Areej Binmahfooz, a junior at Glenbard East High School, on “A Case Report of Parkinson’s Disease with Acute and Unmanageable Myoclonic Dyskinesia.”

Zoeh Olmedo-Muniz, a sophomore at Lane Tech High School, was mentored by medical student Ava DiGirolamo (CCOM '26). Ava enjoyed her mentorship experience and learning about the case they studied together. Ava said, "It was nice to look at medical cases from a different perspective."

Mallica Cary (CCOM '27) and Azul Partida, a senior at Morton East High School, valued their experiences with Mini Medical School. Azul said, "I was taught a lot about how to get into medical school. I like the hands-on experience. It's really useful." Mallica said, "It was fun to work with younger folks and give them advice I didn't have when I was a senior in high school. Azul came in well-prepared, and she's going to go on to do great things. She taught me a lot."

 

Joseph Gewarges and Prad Jadhav pose with their poster presentation.
Joseph Gewarges (CCOM '27) worked with Prad Jadhav, a sophomore at Neuqua Valley High School on “A 19-Year-Old Man with Shock, Multiple Organ Failure, and Rash.”

Medical student Joseph Gewarges (CCOM '27) worked with Prad Jadhav, a sophomore at Neuqua Valley High School. Their sessions concluded with their study of a case of a man who became severely ill after eating leftover takeout. Prad said, "Be careful what you eat. This could happen to anyone." Joseph said he and Prad took weeks to piece together the project. "It's always good to pass down some information. That's how we all learn. No one gets here without having a mentor and passing it down," Joseph said.

 

Anuoluwapo Salami and Hannah Lansberry pose with their poster presentation.
Anuoluwapo Salami, a senior at Rich Township High School, and medical student Hannah Lansberry (CCOM ’27) presented “Localized Childhood Vulvar Pemphigoid: A Rare Case Study.”

Anuoluwapo Salami, a senior at Rich Township High School was mentored by medical student Hannah Lansberry (CCOM '27). Hannah appreciated her mentorship role. "I definitely felt prepared to instruct and explain my scientific knowledge. Midwestern University is a great medical school and teaches what it means to be a physician."

Medical student Jasmine Zhai (CCOM '27) and Jessie Bowen, a senior at Morton West High School collaborated over several weeks concluding with a project about aftereffects of COVID-19. Jasmine commented, "COVID-19 led to a lot of medical issues. COVID-19 didn't just kill through the lungs. It killed through every other system as well." Jasmine also shared her experience at Mini Medical School helped prepare her for her future career as a healthcare professional. "I expect to be training people in the future," Jasmine said. Jessie also valued the educational experience of Mini Medical School. Jessie said, "It helps me to understand the process of becoming a medical student."

Volunteer work and giving back to the community are integral aspects of a Midwestern University education. Medical students in the Osteopathic Medicine program are also stepping into their role of preparing future healthcare professionals through programs like the Mini Medical School. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degrees are offered at the Downers Grove and Glendale campuses.

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