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The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

The Student-Run News Site of Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska. Keeping you WIRED in to all things Westside.

Westside Wired

UNMC High School Alliance builds future careers

Jonathan Wood
Freddy Ortiz (Omaha South), Paul Wood, Salah Khair Allah, and Jonathan Wood pose at UNMC’s campus before class.

Four Westside students have been given the opportunity to learn from healthcare professionals and researchers through UNMC’s community partnership with metro area high schools.

Senior Paul Wood was accepted into the rigorous program, and said that he was inspired to apply as preparation for his future career.

“I’ve always thought about going into the health profession ever since I was a kid,” Wood said. “My dad’s a doctor and so is my mother, so I’ve always wanted to go into medicine. I knew that going into the high school alliance would give me one step ahead towards that goal.”

During his time in the alliance, Wood has the opportunity to take classes and work with professionals.

“There is obviously the lecture aspect, we’re always going to have that,” Wood said. “But they make it really fun. [The instructors] include a lot of labs that have to deal with the work that you’re doing and they just make it a fun experience.”

Dr. Maurice Godfrey instructs a genetics course, and said that the large variety of students from the metro enhances student experience.

“When they’re there, they have experiences that are beyond what they would have within their more homogeneous high school experience,” Godfrey said. “They get to work with students from other schools, who have other backgrounds, other experiences, and that’s something that’s one of the unique factors that we have, because there’s a lot of teamwork required in some of the classes, a lot of cooperative learning.”

Wood also acknowledged that studying isn’t the only important aspect to participating in the program.

“I was definitely hitting the books,” Wood said.  “But once I actually got into [the program], I realized that I need to do something different if I really want to get the full experience or get all the aspects of it, and so I did that. Honestly, it’s just been really amazing how many people I’ve gotten to know.”

According to Wood, the relationships students create in the program doesn’t stop at the peer level.

“They bring in doctors from different areas and programs at UNMC,” Wood said. “I got to meet an optometrist, I believe he is the head of optometry at UNMC; I have his phone number, so I can call him. If I needed some kind of job opportunity, I can ask him.”

As a professional, Godfrey spent many years researching, where he says satisfying discoveries didn’t occur with a high degree of regularity. Now, he finds satisfaction in his students’ learning.

“you could be working on something for a year or two before you make some kind of great discovery and that’s extraordinarily gratifying,” Godfrey said. “But when you’re working with students, you find that gratification almost every day. You’re getting impact to the student and you’re getting feedback and you’re getting excitement. I just enjoy the challenge of exciting the students.”

For many reasons, Godfrey believes the program is a great stepping stone for students interested in medicine.

“In many instances, they’re more prepared for the rigors of college,” Godfrey said. “I’ve had students thank me for the challenges because it has made their college experience so much easier. It opens eyes for students to learn about multiple areas within biomedicine and not just medical school. We’re giving them a unique vision that working together is what Biomedicine is all about.”

Godfrey also recognized ways in which the program can influence students’ career choices.

“In some instances, it shows students early on that maybe it’s not what they thought was their chosen path,” Godfrey said. “Maybe they need to choose something else because it’s just not what they were expecting or not what they thought it would be, and they learn early.”

Wood plans on using his time in the program to bolster his resume for medical school, which he plans to complete to become a doctor.

“I’m going to UNO for college and then I’m hoping that being a part of the health alliance program will then help to bolster my resume,” Wood said. “My end goal is to go to UNMC, eventually med school itself. I hope I can get there.”

Through the program, Wood has learned the value of creating relationships with those around him.

“The biggest takeaway is just really putting yourself out there,” Wood said. “It’s way more impactful going out and talking with people to get those relationships.”

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About the Contributor
Tanatswa Chivero
Tanatswa Chivero, Co-Editor in Chief
Hi! My name is Tanatswa Chivero, and I am a Co-Editor in Chief for Wired. I am currently a senior, and this is my fourth year in journalism. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at [email protected]!
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