WILKES-BARRE — Kahlil Rust had pretty high hopes from the outset.
“I want to be a neurosurgeon,” the Hazleton Area High School soon-to-be-junior said.
But after spending time on the King’s College campus learning about cancer treatment, he was reconsidering.
“I didn’t know that much about the different treatments, like gamma knife surgery,” Rust said Tuesday while showing off a poster he designed to explain what he had learned. “Now I’m thinking about getting into that instead.”
Rust was one of about 20 students from area high schools who participated in the REACH-HEI (Regional Education Academy for Careers in Health — Higher Education Initiative) program, a federally funded, multi-year effort to help students from low-income families pursue dreams of a career in the medical field.
While the program runs year-round with day visits and trips for the students, it includes a three-week residential summer component when students live on campus and interact with college staff. King’s Hispanic Outreach program assistant coordinator Reyna Logsdon said Tuesday’s event, held outside on the college’s Monarch Court, was a chance for the students to show off what they learned through posters and chats with those who decided to stop by.
The bulk of the program targets high school students, but there is also an offering for middle school students, Logsdon said. They designed a flier touting the program and set up an Alex’s Lemonade Stand, named after a charitable foundation created by a Connecticut girl diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was about 1 year old and who later opened a lemonade stand to raise money for cancer research. Alex died at age 8, but her idea thrives.
“We are hoping to raise $200 today, ” Logsdon said.
The high school students ringed the circular court, built on what used to be a stretch of South Franklin Street, with easels and posters displaying what they had learned, offering as much information as any passerby wanted. Desiree Lewis, also from Hazleton Area, talked in considerable detail about the types of brain tumors, both benign and malignant, and the problems each can create.
“I learned a lot more than I would have if I did the research on my own,” She said. “We did a lot of cool stuff and different stuff. I expected it to be like high school work, but the professors challenge you more.”
Asked if that meant it was worth losing three weeks of summer vacation, Lewis smiled.
“I kind of wanted it to be longer.”