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STEM summer camp goes virtual

Drone shot of Smith Mall

The Metropolitan Indianapolis Central Indiana Area Health Education Center (MICI-AHEC) hosted a virtual version of the summer high school Hoosier Health Academy. The program began more than 10 years ago through a grant from the Human Resources and Service Administration as a way to help increase diversity in healthcare professions. 

Dedicated volunteers, including University of Indianapolis faculty and project coordinator Jillian Lain, worked diligently to transition this competitive Indianapolis-based STEM program into an online setting to prepare students for summer learning.

In order to move to a virtual format, we had to get creative and utilize the resources that were available to us through the university’s technology,” said Lain.

The Hoosier Health Academy is one of several Health Careers Opportunity Programs coordinated by MICI-AHEC. The program is geared towards students with educational and economically disadvantaged backgrounds, which Lain says is important because “in order to provide a culturally competent workforce, we need a wide range of representation in the health field in order to best serve the patients that come into healthcare offices.” In addition, “data shows that students from underserved and underprivileged backgrounds are actually more likely to go back to serve in those communities in which they come from, which often have a high demand for healthcare professionals. “

Among the topics offered during this year’s six-week program were forensics and chemistry, crime scene investigation, Medical Sociology, Public Health, PT, OT, financial literacy, and biomedical engineering. Volunteer faculty included Doug Boxler, criminal justice adjunct faculty, Liz Ziff, associate professor of sociology, Heidi Rauch, associate professor of kinesiology, and graduate students from various programs.