LOS ANGELES - Children in kindergarten recited by memory different body parts like the lungs, the heart, and the liver and described their function without looking at notes—using only their memory.
|All photo by Laurell L. Black
They were among more than 200 students from pre-K to 12th grade, who were honored at the Saturday Science Academy II Jr. White Coat Ceremony. Students were applauded for their academic achievement in the program, which is administered at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles.
Recent figures have shown that out of 112 students who attended the academy from 2000 to 2008, 95% of those answered a survey saying they were attending or had completed a degree at a four-year college.
Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, urged the students to excel in their studies so they could return to South Los Angeles as medical professionals. “If you want to help this community, learn as much as you can, be as good a doctor as you can possibly be, and then come back to Watts, Compton and provide your service to someone who otherwise would not be able to receive it.”
The academy is a rigorous program for all students. who benefit from intensive teaching and a strong curriculum. Classes are a hands-on learning experience, designed to help students flourish in math and science, while learning about health careers. Those who complete three consecutive sessions –about 50% this year—receive a white lab coat, a universal symbol of those in the health professions that signals a transition into clinical practice from book learning.
While a symbol of achievement, the white coat also stands for a student’s interest in helping others, said Angela Nossett, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Hospital to the students. She added to remember: “It doesn’t mean you’re better than someone who doesn’t have it.”
In showing appreciation for the program, the president of the Charles R. Drew Medical Society, a professional group of African American doctors in Los Angeles, made a large donation to the to the program. William D. King, M.D., J.D., the organization’s president, presented Lorraine Grey, who heads the Saturday Science program, with a $5,000 check.
The ceremony also included a showcase of oratory skills, as students in the program impersonated Martin Luther King Jr. , President Barack Obama and other famous African Americans. The audience of several hundred people applauded warmly throughout the oral presentations, as well as when students received their white coats.
“I thought it was fantastic, very well done,” said Ann Shaw, whose daughter Cortney received her white coat during the ceremony. Cortney intends to pursue a degree in the health sciences in college, she said.
Saturday Science Academy II Oath:
“I, as a student of Charles R. Drew University’s Saturday Science Academy, promise by this oath that I shall treasure what I have learned in this program and continue my quest for higher education.
“Despite the obstacles that I may face in the future, I shall recognize that I have the power to overcome them and become a better person.
“And to show appreciation to those who have taught me, I shall accept the responsibility to teach others and to share my knowledge with everyone. I shall uphold these values to the best of my ability.”