Thursday, February 21News That Matters

'Ladder Program' gives at-risk students a chance to experience medical school

Elementary, middle, and high school students took part in the first-ever installment of the Ladder Program at UW-Madison on Saturday morning. 

The program, which gives students from the Boys and Girls Club an opportunity to learn from doctors and other medical professionals within the school, 

Dr. Brian Gittens, who serves as the Associate Dean for Human Resources Equity and Inclusion at the U-W School of Public Health, said programs like this are crucial for showing kids they can enjoy careers in the medical field. 

"When you talk about children who are underrepresented, it's not just the academic part of it," he said. "It's 'How can I be cool and still be smart?'"

"It's important for our students to see themselves in an array of professions," said Alex Gagnon, vice president for school-based education at the Boys and Girls Club. "It's important for them to find that mentor."

When it comes to the mentorship role, the teachers understand the importance.

"It means so much to me now that I have reached my goals to be able to put back into the youth," said Dr. Jasmine Zapata, who is the co-director of the Ladder Program. 

The program will meet once a month for the next several months, where students will learn about a wide variety of medical subjects. 

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