Ashley Hall Students Reflect on MUSC Global Health Symposium

Teachers at Ashley Hall are always looking for innovative learning opportunities for their students.  That’s one of the many reasons Allison Bowden and Patricia Kamua brought 51 high school students from their honors biology and chemistry classes to MUSC’s Global and Public Health Symposium this winter.  Students had the chance to hear from world-renowned experts in the field about many of the facets affecting global health - from socio-economics, cultural challenges to ethical dilemmas.

“This symposium provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about medicine in a broader context and expose them to the challenges many communities face.” said Bowden.  “It’s also a valuable experience for teachers, allowing us to integrate what is discussed at the symposium into the curriculum to make it more meaningful, and brings into the classroom a real-world application that is unforgettable.”

Kamua wanted her students to understand the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of science in our modern world.  “Ever since attending the symposium, the students have shown great enthusiasm not just for learning chemistry, but understanding its application in a broader context of health, medical and cultural perspectives.  A few of the Ashley Hall students shared a glimpse into what they gained spending the day at MUSC.

Maura Mooney:  The Global Health Symposium as MUSC, for me personally, was an exceptional experience. As it is only my first year in high school, my future and my peer’s futures are not set completely. I can say with confidence that this symposium definitely broadened our horizons. To hear from doctors that work across world speak in my hometown was an unprecedented experience to have as only a ninth grade student. There were so many ideas and issues that had not affected me or crossed my mind that could inspire the future medical practitioners. My generation will be the new innovators that will create vaccines, trials, and provide care to those who need it. As of now, cancer is untreatable, but what I have learned from the remarkable doctors that spoke is that giving up is not an option. In the 19th century, HIV did not have a vaccine, but with modern technology and the expansive minds of these medical practitioners, PrEP was designed. With this in mind, a cure for cancer is imminent and very possible thanks to the inspiration from the doctors. Overall, I would love to come back to the symposium next year and am glad to be a part of something much bigger as only a freshman at Ashley Hall.

Austin Givens:  I’ll be honest in saying that I’ve never really had interest in being a doctor, mainly because I get squeamish at blood and surgeries. However, this conference opened my eyes to all of the other elements behind the field of medicine. It showed me that being a doctor isn’t just about cutting people open and saving their lives. It’s about doing what’s best for them. In the discussion about HIV, I learned that the physical outbreak itself isn’t our only concern. It also focuses on finding treatment for those affected, aiding targeted groups, and spreading awareness. Also, the debate wasn’t even on medical treatments. It discussed whether medical mission trips were more beneficial to the travelers or the recipients. All of the doctors there weren’t concerned on getting their next paycheck; they were concerned on how they could help patients so they could get them on their feet again as soon as possible. Their discussions and questions showed me that they aren’t doing this job to make themselves feel better, their prime concern is to help anyone around them who needs it. This conference was really beneficial not only for the medical education, but for the way it opened my eyes to how much doctors care about their patients and stomping out diseases before they even have the chance to become a global outbreak. Coming from a girl that never even jumped on board the Grey’s Anatomy train because she couldn’t stand the blood or sound effects, this conference is truly amazing and can easily persuade those interested or disinterested in the medical profession to honestly consider joining.

Mackenzie Brady:  I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend the MUSC Global Health Symposium. I had the chance to listen to doctors from many different fields and backgrounds, and I got to hear their opinion on current medical issues. Specifically, I got to learn about HIV, stroke, the impact of medical volunteering, and how technology plays an important role in many different STEM fields. It was very inspiring to hear about their research projects and the impact that they could make on the world. One presentation that I really enjoyed was the one given by Dr. Beyrer on HIV and human rights. I found it really interesting how he connected two prominent problems in the world, and explained how they both could be solved in one way. Before listening to his presentation I had no idea that by curing a pandemic you could also overcome social injustices. Being able to attend the Symposium was an opportunity of a lifetime. It was incredible to listen to doctors discuss topics that I had learned about in the classroom just days before. The experience taught me the importance of educating the community on important worldwide issues, and it emphasized that one person’s work could make a difference in the global community. I am now inspired to not only pursue a medical career, but to take my work into the community to make a difference.

Sarah Smith:  When my classmates and I went to the Global Health Symposium in early November, I could hardly wait. I have known that I have wanted to enter the medical field for years and was extremely excited and nervous to get my very first introduction into the compelling world of medicine. I wanted so badly to enjoy the experience and am extremely glad to say, I loved it! The first speaker was Professor Beyrer who discussed HIV and human rights, giving two case studies that sparked my interest in the subject. During his presentation he said that 37,000 people are living with HIV right now, and that 40,000 people have died since the pandemic had begun. His presentation was interesting while also being informative which really helped me to retain the information and understand it clearly. Later was a presentation on stroke screening in rural areas, mainly West Africa. I thought this was specifically interesting because my main interest is going abroad to rural areas for volunteer work or an internship during medical school, and even Doctors Without Borders, if I become a doctor. I want to make a difference in the world, leave a mark that I was there. I want to give people their families and lives back so that they can make their lives as special as I hope to make mine. When I imagine myself in the future, I want to see someone who helps others, not for their own benefit, or to say that they did something amazing, but to know that they made a difference. To know that they spent their life doing what they love and helping everyone around them, because it’s what they love to do, and enjoy every second. This experience was amazing and helped me to realize and understand my interest and love of medicine.           

Charlotte Clark:  I really enjoyed the trip that our grade took to MUSC for the Global Health Symposium. Walking into the presentation room, I felt kind of apprehensive. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to entirely understand the information, and I’d be spending the entire assembly asking my friends for help. However, I was pleased to be able to comprehend nearly all of the information. My favorite part of the day was the assembly on HIV and the challenges for key populations. I was really stricken by the fact that certain groups of people aren’t able to receive the same care as others. Gay men and drug users, for example, often don’t receive treatment for their disease due to the stigma. Not to mention that one of the best ways to prevent HIV is by using a drug called PrEP, but most of the population at risk, can’t afford it. Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, and i feel like I learned a lot.

Hannah Lipschutz:  The MUSC Global Health Symposium was an inspiring meeting that taught my fellow classmates and I how scientists around the world communicate their ideas and discoveries. During the conference, they discussed the global burden of HIV and the Human Rights response, the use of technology to provide aid for global health, the causes of stroke and how the patients fared, and the strengths and weaknesses of sending short term volunteers to third world countries. The majority of the discussions were on topics Ashley Hall students are not usually exposed to. The conversations related to global health issues piqued my curiosity and made me want to learn more. I enjoyed how they talked about issues that affect our world. I also enjoyed how inclusive they were and how welcome they made us feel, even though we were only high school students.

Nancy Kirkman:  On the November 10th, a few biology and chemistry classes from Ashley Hall went to a Global Health Symposium at MUSC. The symposium featured lectures on HIV and Human Rights, Strokes in Africa, a Six-Person Panel Discussion and a Debate. For me, the most interesting thing about the whole day was the lecture given on HIV and human rights. I thought it was very interesting how they incorporated human rights and social studies into such a scientific topic. They gave a very interesting view on a topic I had only thought about scientifically. Hearing all this new information on the global issue of HIV and key populations made me inspired to research further into this topic, and I would definitely like to continue to learn more about this topic in the future.