This summer, 11 students from DC Public Schools (DCPS) participated in Georgetown University School of Medicine’s Gateway Exploration Program (GEP), which offers six-week internship opportunities to rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors who are from groups underrepresented in medicine. This year’s cohort researched solutions to health problems that impact their communities, including Type 2 diabetes among U.S. immigrants, the stigma around mental health conditions among Black teens, and cardiovascular disease within the Black community. The program is part of a university effort to provide hands-on experiences for high school students from across the District that prepare them for college and beyond.
“As Georgetown University School of Medicine continues to prioritize extending resources to support local community students who are interested in pursuing careers in the health professions, we remain immeasurably proud of these opportunity programs that provide career exposure, professional development, and academic enrichment activities for students enrolled in DCPS schools,” said Samantha McLaughlin, assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion at the School of Medicine.
GEP matches students to internships in various medical departments that correspond with their high school coursework and extracurricular activities. During their internship, they attend professional development workshops, lectures, and presentations led by medical school faculty; assist with health care administration; develop research and writing skills; network with mentors; and shadow Georgetown physicians. At the conclusion of the program, students present capstone projects on their chosen topics.
Julie Nguyen (H’24), a human science major, recalled how the challenges she faced as a first-generation college student motivated her to work with GEP students as a summer associate in the School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI).
“I often think of all the students like me who could have had the same, if not more, potential but were stalled by life circumstances—the students who didn’t have time to dedicate to writing personal essays and creating college lists because they were busy trying to keep their families afloat or battling mental health issues,” she said. “So many underserved students fall between the cracks from high school to college or university, and pipeline programs are a way to combat this issue.”
Read more about GEP and this summer’s cohort.