Burke High students graduate MUSC cancer research program

Burke High students graduate MUSC cancer research program (WCIV)

The future is looking bright for some students at Burke High School. Thursday was graduation day for 17 students who are now celebrated S.C. CURE scholars.

They are the first graduating class part of an exclusive collaboration between Burke High School and MUSC’s Hollings Cancer Center. The program is designed to spark interest in biomedical cancer research.

“We really felt a strong commitment to Burke High School, it’s one mile from MUSC,” said Marvella Ford, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Population Science and Cancer Disparities division of the Hollings Cancer Center. “It’s very important to show students that they can make money through science and maybe that will peak their interest and now they might actually have an interest in science for the sake of science.”

Ford said each student was immersed in the world of science and research, which focused on cancer biology, epidemiology, and health disparities.

“This training that we’ve given them has really given them an opportunity to seek career paths that they may not have known about,” Ford said. “Now they know about those fields and some of them have actually made a commitment to go into those fields now.”

London Bellinger already knows what she wants to do. The Burke senior said the program helped her realize she likes fixing things and helping people.

“It helps me with college because my major [will be] biomedical engineering, I want to specialize in prosthetics,” Bellinger said. “I got to really see insight to the field that I want to be in and working at MUSC knowing it’s where I grew up, I like that too.”

Larry Singletary, Jr., said it was a very challenging two-year commitment, but said the hands-on experience working under laboratory scientists was invaluable.

“We worked with cancer cells and we actually worked with rats, lab rats,” Singletary said. “So, that was something that was completely different for me, I had never worked with that.”

Some of the scholars will receive 15 MUSC college credits, which is helpful for ambitious students like Singletary who have a lot of school ahead.

“I want to be a prosthetics and orthotics athletic trainer, so I want to work with athletes who have prosthetics” he said. “If I could be a Paralympics trainer, that would be a dream job.”

The program is only offered to 20 rising sophomores and seniors at Burke, but Ford said there are plans to grow the program over the next few years.

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