After volunteering at Ochsner Hospital in Kenner for the past two years, Brooke Scardino was encouraged by her College Counselor, Mrs. Jessica Reeg, as well as an Ochsner employee to apply to Ochsner Hospital’s STAR (Science Technology Academic Research) Program. This rigorous STEM program gives high school students who have an interest in pursuing careers in science and medicine an opportunity to participate in hands-on medical care and scientific research in a laboratory setting.
After an extensive application process, Scardino was selected as 1 of only 16 high school students in the Greater New Orleans area to participate in the program. Scardino explored over 80 different career specialties, some of which included cardiology, neurology, pediatrics, surgery, pharmacy, and oncology. She also observed surgeries, shadowed a doctor, and learned basic medical skills such as suturing, intubation, starting IVs, and patient treatment. Additionally, Scardino worked alongside three fellow STAR students and translational research scientists to explore the connection between the genetics of taste and the risk of colon cancer. The result was a professional science poster, which her lab group proudly defended at the STAR Culmination Ceremony.
Scardino was also given a personal medical school mentor from the University of Queensland – Ochsner Clinical School to help gain better knowledge about preparing for medical school. In addition, she interviewed Ochsner executives and resource groups to learn more about the business operations of the hospital. Scardino states, “I know I have the potential to go to medical school, so the mentorship aspect of the program was extremely beneficial to me.”
When asked about Scardino’s contribution to the program, Associate Program Manager, Stephanie Messina, MS, commented, “Brooke brought a sense of creativity and curiosity to the program, which challenged her fellow classmates to grow as future healthcare professionals.”
In speaking of her interest in a career in science, Scardino added, “one of my teachers, Mrs. Drez, has inspired me tremendously. She has such a passion for science and truly cares about her students’ successes. She makes science interesting and always encourages me to explore.”
Brooke concluded, “My experience was unforgettable. I most enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the program and I hope to inspire my peers to explore similar opportunities.”
Scardino looks forward to her senior year, currently serving as Mu Alpha Theta Vice President, National Art Honor Society Vice President, STEM Club Historian, and as a member of National Honor Society, Student Ambassadors, and CHIPS, a peer mentoring group.