Above, medical student Andrea Bañuelos works with fifth-grader Martina Torres as part of the Educación Primero program.
Dozens of aspiring young medical professionals are learning from the people they want to be when they grow up, thanks to a unique partnership between Eastman Avenue Elementary School and USC’s Latino Medical Student Association.
Fifty fourth- and fifth-graders were selected for the program based on their academic performance as well as a qualifying essay. They will receive regular visits from USC medical students, providing lessons designed to spark their interested in medical careers. The kids will learn about the human brain, heart, lungs and the gastrointestinal and immune systems.
Jennifer Perdomo, teacher and coach chair for the Latino Medical Student Association was pleased at the involvement of the Eastman students and impressed at their level of interest. During a recent session, a fourth-grader’s question about memory prompted a lesson from second-year medical student Andrea Bañuelos about the hypothalamus, a tiny but powerful section of the brain that controls temperature, hunger, sleep and memory.
The association created Educación Primero in 2000 to encourage elementary students in under-served communities to pursue science, higher education and careers in medicine. The medical students tutor, mentor and make presentations. During the final session of the year, Eastman students will get a tour of the USC campus, a certificate of completion and children-size stethoscopes.
“You have someone here, a grown-up, and you can see the possibilities,” said fourth-year medical student Angelia Rodriguez.