Pre-pre-med Featured

8:12am EDT November 26, 2002
The news that the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic won a $10,000 competitive grant was not too surprising. What was surprising about the grant was that it didn't go to one of the hospital's famous doctors or researchers but to a high school senior at Cleveland's John Hay High School.

Echo Brown, 18, won the grant through a youth smoking prevention program from the Lorillard Tobacco Co. to produce a video showing teens the health hazards of smoking. But Brown didn't submit the grant proposal by herself. She is a student in the Cleveland Clinic/John Hay High School Education Partnership, which offers students at this inner-city Cleveland school a four-year medical/biological curriculum track to pursue a career in the health care field.

The partnership, in its 13th year, is one of the Clinic's most successful community service projects, says Rosalind Strickland, director of community relations for the Clinic.

"The program exposes the students to all types of health careers," she says. "It gives them an opportunity to go behind the scenes and get hands-on experience and then hopefully to go on and become a health care professional."

The program introduces students to careers beyond that of a traditional physician. Other health professions like radiology, lab medicine, ophthalmology, surgical technician and biomedical research are also explored. Instruction includes both in-class work and internships where students help Clinic staff with patient care, research and administrative tasks.

The partnership was named one of two "Learning Models in the Country That Work" in 2000 by the public broadcasting TV station in Boston.

Brown, who worked on a genetic research cloning project at the Clinic during the summer, graduated in June. Even with the program's rigorous college prep curriculum, the honor student earned a 4.6-grade-point-average, which got her a full academic scholarship to Dartmouth College. Many other program alumni have gone on to higher education and returned to the Clinic to work, Strickland says.

"Community projects like this are tied to our mission," Strickland says. "Our mission is about the business of what we do -- which is health care." How to reach: The Cleveland Clinic, (216) 445-6600