Exploring Baylor through the eyes of sixth graders

Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan sixth grade students spent a half day at Baylor College of Medicine learning about careers in biomedical science and the health professions, as well as the importance of education and team work. Established in 2013 by the Houston Independent School District, BCMA at Ryan is a unique health sciences STEM magnet school affiliated with Baylor College of Medicine.

“Students at BCMA at Ryan take innovative classes like neuroscience and biotechnology, Latin in all grades and a rigorous pre-AP curriculum, said Dr. Nancy Moreno, senior associate director of the Center for Educational Outreach. “It’s a great example of how schools and universities can work together to improve opportunities for students.”

Dr. Adam Kuspa, Baylor’s senior vice president and dean for research, kicked off the third annual Ryan Open House by giving a brief history of the College and an overview of his lab’s work by comparing white blood cells to Spiderman’s web. Following that, Dr. Tyson Pillow, assistant professor of medicine-emergency medicine, got the 320 students riled-up by stating that Batman was the best superhero. Ultimately, Dr. Pillow’s interactive speech left the sixth graders with three tips for their educational journey:

  1. Education is important and exciting
  2. Find what you’re good at, and dedicate yourself to it
  3. Keep practicing whatever it is that you do

“After 24 plus years of school, I am very lucky to get to do what I love every day,” Pillow said.

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After the opening remarks, students were split into groups and toured the campus for a more in-depth look at all Baylor offers. They received tours of DeBakey Library and Museum from DeBakey High School for Health Professions students and learned about the Willed Body Program from Glen Yarneau, assistant professor of molecular and cellular biology. Other rotations included a panel with Baylor medical and graduate students and a hands-on activity involving cards to teach the importance of team work and communication.

New to this year’s open house was a presentation from the School of Allied Health Sciences. BCMA at Ryan students learned that medical field incorporates more than doctors and specifically learned about Baylor’s physician assistant, nurse anesthesia and orthotics and prosthetics programs.

“It was great to see the Ryan students engaged with our faculty as they walked through a case example,” said Dr. Robert McLaughlin, dean for the School of Allied Health. “They learned how healthcare professionals team up to restore a patient’s functioning after serious injury and seemed fascinated to see the patient take off and put on the prosthetic leg that makes his daily activities possible. We wanted to teach them that being a good student now can set them on the path for any kind of healthcare career.”

-By Julia Parsons

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