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Congressman Elijah Cummings Celebrates the University's Summer Research Program

Thursday, August 07, 2008

 Seventh District Congressman Elijah Cummings had nothing but praise for the students who completed this year's Summer Research Program.

In a visit to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings congratulated a select group of West Baltimore high school students for completing a special eight-week Summer Research Program. The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) program gives students from the nearby Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy the chance to work side by side with mentors in their fields of interest from any of the University's professional schools. Ten students successfully completed the program, now in its second year.


"I want to thank you for participating. You truly are special," a proud Congressman Cummings told the high-schoolers during his inspiring keynote speech at a luncheon in their honor. "This is about looking at your life at an early point and understanding with a keen sense of maturity that the things that you do now and in the next five to ten years will affect you until you die. Even if you live to be 110 years old, your choices now will affect every single aspect of your life. You are on a journey to success. And when I look at you, it just makes me feel so good."


The Summer Research Program was born from a conversation between Congressman Cummings and UMB president David J. Ramsay, DM, Phil, both of whom were seeking ways to inspire neighborhood students to pursue a college education. "Vivien T. Thomas students can apply for these research positions and then come here for the summer to work," explains Jordan Warnick, PhD, who heads this program and is also a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Assistant Dean for Student Education & Research at the School of Medicine. "We find places for them based on the mentors we have and the students' interests, so they don't get just any job – we try to match the position with what they want to do."


Some of this year's students were placed in laboratories at the School of Medicine, where they had the opportunity to study such diseases as cancer, HIV and asthma, but others took advantage of opportunities at the Schools of Nursing and Social Work and at the Center for School Mental Health in the Department of Psychiatry at the School of Medicine. "The School of Medicine is always interested in students who want to do research," says Dr. Warnick. "But I'm well aware that not everyone wants to be a physician. I'm here to open these high school students' eyes to something, regardless of whether it's pharmacy or poetry or nursing or social work – whatever they have a glint in their eye about. I want them to flourish in this environment. We try to dispel some of the things they've heard, that they have to be this or that to get into this school. All you have to do is complete the required prerequisite courses."


The Summer Research Program is funded by the Office of the President at UMB. For more information on student research opportunities at the university, visit the Office of Student Research.

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 The students thanked Warnick for all the opportunities they were given to explore their varied interests.

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