Taiana Corchado, a junior at Cathedral High School in Manhattan, was one of four Cathedral students selected to participate in a two-year internship at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The students’ science enrichment program began last June, will go into next summer and throughout their senior year.
“My favorite part of the program is being able to meet new people who have the same career interests I do, and being able to learn about different medical careers,” said Taiana last week in an interview at school with CNY.
“I didn’t know there were so many different careers that could be implemented in the medical field. We’ve been learning many new things about cancer.”
Taiana, 16, plans to be a nurse. Memorial Sloan Kettering is a renowned cancer research institute on East 68th Street in Manhattan.
The other three Cathedral juniors who are interns are Thais Peña, Skyla Collado and Annette Malan. All are 16, and they each plan to become a doctor. The four girls expressed gratitude for the MSK program coordinators and instructors.
Thais called her internship “an opportunity to learn more about the medical field and to advance. I feel thankful, and I appreciate that they’re taking their time to teach us about what they do in their field.”
The internship program at the MSK Cancer Center helps high school science students learn fundamental skills in a clinical environment to explore career paths in medicine. In the first year, the students take weekly courses in cancer, biology, lab skills and professional development. In the second year, they participate in lab work and clinical research/trials.
The students were nominated for the program by Cathedral’s Medical Gateways Academy staff based on academic eligibility. Memorial Sloan Kettering reviewed all applicants and named finalists last June. Eleven students are participating in the MSK program this school year, including the four Cathedral girls.
The other students are from Brooklyn Latin High School and Lincoln High School in Yonkers. In the past, students from Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx have participated.
Taiana, Thais, Skyla and Annette have attended professional development talks and discussions, faculty luncheons and created LinkedIn pages in addition to their scheduled classes focused on building their awareness of cancer research with a laboratory setting. They will conduct a research project next summer and submit a paper in August.
Maria Spagnuolo, principal of Cathedral High School, said programs such as the MSK internship dovetail with the school’s Medical Gateways and STEM academics to provide avenues for students “into professional pathways for future success in college and beyond…These girls are pretty impressive. I’m really proud of them. Once we put in all the applications (a dozen or so), they were the ones who were chosen by MSK to be part of the program.”
Dr. Debyani Chakravarty, assistant attending and one of the Science Enrichment Program teachers, told CNY that the enrichment program “gives options to underserved students; they may say that they want to be a doctor or a nurse, but there are so many opportunities that lie in the field of cancer research, and in the scientific field, that they may not even be aware. It opens their eyes to many opportunities.”
“It’s such a pleasure to be part of something big; it’s a very well-known institution,” said Annette, whose medical pursuits may end up in pediatrics. “MSK opens barriers into my future.”
Skyla noted, “My favorite part has been the seminars and the talks. The researchers and doctors give lectures, and they have Power Points laid out. They explain their research, and what they have found.”