Zhi-Yang Tsun

M.D. – Ph.D. Candidate
Sabatini Laboratory, The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
MIT Department of Biology
B.S., Bioengineering, University of California San Diego
B.S., Molecular Biology, University of California San Diego

E-mail:   ztsun <at> mit <dot> edu

Zhi has been committed to educational outreach ever since his experience mentoring a high school student through UCSD’s Preuss School, a college preparatory school that supports motivated students from low-income families who would be the first in their family to go to college. It was an incredible experience for Zhi to watch the student who he mentored grow over three years, and the two have been in close contact ever since.

As a first-year medical student at Harvard Medical School, Zhi became involved with Health Professions Recruitment & Exposure Program (HPREP), a high school outreach program aimed at recruiting minority and underserved students into science and medicine. The program’s ultimate goal is to eliminate disparities in scientist and physician training, as well as health care treatment and access.

Zhi feels fortunate to lead the program in its growth from 8 students graduating in 2008 to 58 students graduating in 2012. They have revitalized the curriculum to include a human organs showcase, in which their students view and feel normal and diseased organs, followed by a guided histology review on the microscope. They have also initiated a microbiology lesson in which students sample bacteria from their environment and themselves. They culture the bacteria and gram-stain them, enabling the students to see firsthand the bacteria that they collect. This year, a teaching fellow from Harvard’s Science and Cooking course also taught basic principles of physics and chemistry though food demonstrations.

One of the challenges that enrichment programs such as HPREP face is that, although the students are exposed to new experiences and opportunities, they are often not well supported to apply to college, the next step in the path to becoming a scientist or physician. The next goal for HPREP will be to partner their high school students with talented undergraduate students from MIT and Harvard who will help them with scholarship and college applications. This way, students who are inspired by the program’s curriculum will also be supported in tangible ways so that they can achieve their goals. Zhi and his colleagues are also preparing to expand HPREP to include a hands-on lab curriculum for students who have graduated from their regular curriculum.

Zhi firmly believes that educational outreach to the underserved will eliminate disparities in scientist and physician training and will ultimately benefit society as a whole. He intends to continue his outreach efforts throughout his training and career.

Related websites:

Health Professions Recruitment & Exposure Program Website
URL: http://sites.google.com/site/hmshprep/


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