Tyler Young, a sophomore at McDowell High School, will get the chance to work side by side this summer with a doctor in the field of cancer research.
Young was announced recently as one of the 100 award recipients for the second year of the PBS Learning Media’s and Stand Up to Cancer’s Emperor Science Award program. The Emperor Science Award program is an initiative designed to encourage high school students to explore careers in science, specifically cancer research and care, through a unique mentoring opportunity.
“I was very astonished that I get to represent North Carolina for this,” Young told The McDowell News recently.
Young and the other 99 Emperor Science Award recipients will have an opportunity to conduct research in a lab, virtually, or a combination of both, work with an esteemed scientists on a rewarding multi-week cancer research project. They will receive a Google Chrome computer to enhance their work and to facilitate mentor access remotely and a $1,500 stipend for expenses. Those entering the program for the first year can also apply for a second year.
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“I will have the opportunity to work under a mentor. I want to be able to not only interact with patients at the center, but also get a feel of what the research is and feel what the job is like, and if I really want to be a pediatric oncologist,” said Young. “This will be the greatest opportunity to see if I want this job or not.”
Starting Monday, Young and her mentor, Dr. Bethany Kerr from the Wake Forest School of Medicine, will devise a plan for when school lets out. Young said she could work anywhere from three to four hours a week through Aug. 27.
Kerr’s work in Wake Forest focuses on understanding how prostate cancer spreads thought out the body in hopes to design new treatments to prevent the spread of cancer. Young hopes to open up her own cancer center someday.
“I would love to get my doctorate and open up my own practice where you don’t have to be approved by insurance before you receive treatment,” said Young. “A lot of patients, lower income patients, are turned away until they have insurance to cover them when they could be treated earlier. And I think that’s really unfortunate.”
PBS Learning Media, a digital educational resource library for teachers and students, and Stand Up To Cancer, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, received nearly 800 applications from eligible 10th and 11th grade students in 44 states throughout the U. S. who are interested in pursuing a career in science research. Prominent scientists served as judges and evaluated the students’ applications. Students wrote essays addressing why scientific research is so important in finding a cure for cancer, what scientific field they would study and why.
“I basically talked about how I would put it toward stem cell research, and how I thought that was they way to go in terms of the cancer field,” said Young. “I think there is a lot of things you can do with stem cell research.”
Pat Gross, GEAR UP Facilitator for McDowell County Schools, said she found the scholarship opportunity while searching on the PBS Learning website and forwarded it a few students she thought might be interested.
“When I read what she (Young) had written, it was apparent that she feels passionately about cancer research and has a deep desire to help others. I am confident Tyler will enjoy her experience this summer and I look forward to hearing what she learned by working with a medical professional,” Gross said.
Students from rural, suburban and urban communities in 29 states comprise the second class of Emperor Science Awardees. These students demonstrated awareness of emerging developments in cancer treatment, including precision medicine, immunotherapy and epigenetics, and have an impressive range of research focuses and interests, including nanotechnology and engineering, basic cellular biology, gene mappings, bioinformatics, DNA splicing and computational sciences.
“After an amazing inaugural year, we are proud to welcome a new class of students to the Emperor Science Award mentorship program,” said Sara Schaprio, vice president for PBS Education. “The students selected for this year’s class are leaders in their schools and communities and it is our hope that through this unique opportunity they are able to tangibly explore careers in cancer research. I wish to personally congratulate them on all they have already accomplished and am looking forward to their future success.”
At MHS, Young participates in DECA, FBLA, FOR Club, Science Olympiad, cross country, soccer and plays violin in the band.