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Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings Addresses Summer Research Program Graduates

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

 The students gather with the congressman for a photo after his inspiring speech.

“Go where the big boats are,” declared Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, addressing a select group of West Baltimore high school students who were completing the eight-week Summer Research Program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). He congratulated them for not lingering in the small, familiar harbor that is their current lives, and encouraged them to keep venturing out and taking advantage of opportunities such as this program as they pursue a more successful future.


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. Now in its third year and growing bigger every summer, it 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, including medicine, nursing and law.


Many of the students work in laboratories at the School of Medicine, getting a peek into what a life in medicine might be like. Jordan Warnick, PhD, professor of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and Assistant Dean for Student Research at the School of Medicine, who oversees the Summer Research Program, hopes it will help these students take a step toward “a four-year school and even, after that, for them to come back here for graduate school and study medicine or physical therapy or pursue a research career.”


Some of the students expressed doubt that they could go so far, but Congressman Cummings urged them to toss aside their lack of confidence. “If there are people who are telling you that you can’t do this – and I don’t care who they are, your boyfriend or your mom or whoever – you have got to prove them wrong,” he advised the students.


The congressman shared the story of a school counselor who told him he would never amount to anything and how those words have stayed with him all these years, sometimes discouraging him but more often inspiring him to work harder (especially when the counselor had to come to him for legal representation years later). “Go for your dream,” he told the students. “If you pursue your dreams with everything you’ve got, even if you don’t succeed, you still succeed. You succeed because it’s not always about the end, it’s about the journey.”

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