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2011 Oncofertility Consortium Conference: High School Students Attend First Scientific Meeting

The 2011 Oncofertility Consortium Conference incorporated many new activities and attendees. One new special group of attendees were high school students from the Oncofertility Saturday Academy, the informal science outreach program run by the investigators of the Oncofertility Consortium around the country. A new scientists in the group, Katy Ebbert had the chance to spend some time with these young ladies and told us about her experiences with them.


Photo by Galdones Photography

Photo by Galdones Photography

By Katy Ebbert—As an offshoot of the Oncofertility Consortium Conference that took place October 12-14th in Chicago, high-school students from Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Diego convened to learn about the field of fertility preservation and to explore the possibilities of pursuing an education in the sciences. These young women are all students of the Oncofertility Saturday Academy, the education outreach program of the consortium. The students not only attended most of the consortium’s presentations, but they also displayed their own posters and answered questions about the research with which they had been personally involved. Over the course of the three days the girls were exposed to the progress made by the researchers of the consortium, as well as they were given a glimpse into anticipated research and future projects.

Having recently received my bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, I accompanied the girls on their trip to Northwestern’s Evanston Campus where they attended an info session and participated in a tour of the campus. Interested students were also given a quick showing of Dr. Tom O’Halloran’s laboratory in the new Silverman building on the northern end of campus. A whirlwind experience, the girls were greeted by the lively environment provided by the giant purple-shirted crowds from undergraduate orientation and were given an overview of the scientific community present at the university.

Personally, I found the girls themselves to be the most impressive part of the experience. These young women were attentive, well-spoken, and clearly driven to achieve. Eager to have their questions answered, the girls pressed the staff at the Office of Administration with questions pertaining to courses available in each school, application requirements, and many expressed a particular interest in the seven-year Honors Program in Medical Education series (a 7 year program which offers direct entry into Northwestern’s medical school). To put it simply, they kept their tour guides very busy.  It became immediately clear to me that these girls had long-term goals in mind while attending the Oncofertility Consortium Conference. They were passionate about science already at their young age, and they seemed both excited and committed to the idea of exploring all options available to them as they approached the next chapter in their education. Overall, it was a wonderful trip, and I have no doubt that either at Northwestern University or elsewhere, these young women are prepared to excel.


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