By Wendy Sarubbi | July 9, 2012 1:18 pm

High school students from Orange and Osceola counties will be working in the DNA and microbiology laboratories at the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences as part of the College of Medicine’s first summer camp for teens debuting this month.

Students from Jones High School’s medical arts magnet program and students nominated by Osceola high school principals will be visiting Burnett school facilities on UCF’s main campus and the medical education building at the UCF Health Sciences campus in Lake Nona various days from July 9-25.

“This is about helping students understand how to prepare so they have lots of options in college,” said Dr. Lisa Barkley, assistant dean for diversity and inclusion at the College of Medicine and coordinator of the medical school’s Health Leaders Program. “It is our responsibility to reach into our community and give students the educational opportunities to get jobs right here in our medical city. And for that, they need to be well educated.”

The summer camp that includes on-campus visits and a virtual biology course is a continuation of the medical school’s Health Leaders Program, which began last year in partnership with Jones High School.

This partnership is designed to increase the diversity of students in medical education and better prepare those youngsters to enter health-care professions. For the past year Jones students have met with UCF students and faculty members who have mentored them. The UCF volunteers work with the high school students on everything from basic study skills and SAT preparation to homework and basic research fundamentals. This past year, the high school students planned and implemented a health survey at their high school to better understand health access and need in their community.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students and we’re elated to be able to be part of such a great partnership with UCF,” said Jones High School Assistant Principal Lisa James. “The year-long program has been so beneficial to the students already. We’ve seen improved focus on their coursework and the mentorship relationships are transferring to classroom learning.”

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