AURORA, Colo – Leaders with Aurora Public Schools held a celebration to thank the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus, along with other community businesses and partners, for their support and engagement for programs that are truly having an impact on the education.
“We have clear evidence that the programs in the Aurora Public Schools (APS) are unique to the nation,” said APS Superintendent John Barry. Barry cited a recent comment by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan calling the work “significant.”
That work includes the Aurora Lights program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Denver campus and the health careers pathway that spotlights the BA-BS/MD program with the CU Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the CU School of Medicine.
Physics Professor Randall Tagg, PhD, also supports the science pathways at APS, working with students on special projects in the new Innovation Hyper Lab at Vista Peaks. The lab gives students an opportunity to work in a university-level lab while they are in high school.
As part of the celebration, students showcased their work, which included a simulated hospital room with mannequin patients (see photo) where the students shared their hands-on medicine experience. Staff from the WELLS Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus provided the mannequins while students discussed health care simulation and education. The students credited programs like Aurora Lights, the Saturday Academy, and more, with providing them opportunities to network with health care professionals and stimulate their interest in health professions.
Associate Professor Charlie Ferguson, PhD, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who runs the BA-BS/MD program on the Denver campus, said it’s thrilling to see programs like the health pathways and Aurora Lights integrate with both campuses.
“That’s the power of our urban campus,” said Ferguson. “To provide opportunities for these students to go to college in environments where they are most familiar. They come to realize they can go to college and pursue their dreams.”
Professor Allegra Milello, MD, School of Medicine, said the students really do start saying, “I’m good enough. I’m going to college!”
Aurora Lights student Janet Mensah echoed that when she shared that she has been accepted into the BA-BS/MD program. The William Smith High School senior has been involved with Aurora Lights since middle school. With its courses, she said, she developed a fascination with the digestive system, researched careers and landed on becoming a gastroenterologist.
“I can proudly say, I’m going to medical school!,” Mensah said with a smile. A statement – and experience – worthy of the standing ovation she received.