Sep 4, 2015

Bontu and Jordy impressed GW doctors!

Bontu and Jordy.
Bontu and Jordy.

Remember Bontu? Three months ago, you received an email outlining her experience with the Teen Health Promotors (THP). Missed that report? You can read about her at this link. Bontu and her friend Jordy, both seniors in high school, sat down with LAYC staff to discuss THP and their summer experience working with the DC Health and Academic Prep Program (DC-HAPP) at George Washington University (GW).

DC-HAPP was an intensive four-week experiential opportunity for rising seniors interested in a career in medicine. Jordy, Bontu, and the other THP students joined other DC youth to work directly with medical professionals to learn about various health career paths, participate in college preparatory activities, receive support with the college application process, and build mentoring relationships for long-term academic and professional success. Throughout the program, the youth had an opportunity to hear lectures from medical professionals and students, visited the Veterans Affairs office and spoke to veterans there, had lunch with the deans of GW’s medical school, and even had a special white-coat ceremony to honor the youth and their work.

Jordy really enjoyed the lectures on projects various doctors were working on, including research on various illnesses and diseases. He remarked, “I liked learning about iron deficiency or anemia because that affects various members of my family. It was cool to learn about it from the medical side.”

Bontu loved the experience of going into GW’s cadaver lab and seeing various dissected cadavers. She mentioned that all of the youth were able to practice medical sutures on pigs’ feet. These two experiences changed her original goal of becoming an anesthesiologist to wanting to become a surgeon.

Both Bontu and Jordy spoke about how their experience with the Teen Health Promoters prepared them for this program. Jordy appreciated the clinical skills they learned in THP like taking blood pressure, CPR training, and knowledge about HIV/AIDS. Jordy mentioned that doctors were so impressed with their knowledge from THP, stating “medical students don’t even know that!” Bontu was assigned to GW’s hospital for her internship with THP, so she felt comfortable in the space and felt ahead of other youth in the program. Bontu said that she credits THP for giving her the confidence to talk to various types of people, and that the program helped them bond with staff.

After the program, Bontu, Jordy, and the other youth participants received a $2,500 stipend as well as continued college application assistance. Both students said they wouldn’t have been eligible for this amazing experience without their training from THP.

As for their families? “My mom never stopped talking about it. Everyone in my family is proud of me and sees me as the future doctor,” Jordy said. Bontu said that her parents are doing the same thing—bragging to everyone. “Now my sister wants to do THP, too!” she said.

Because of you, Bontu and Jordy are closer than ever to achieving their dreams of becoming physicians. Thank you! Every contribution expands the opportunities that these driven youth may access, including hands-on experiences like DC-HAPP, internships, and scholarships. Please consider donating monthly to sustain the Teen Health Promoters program. 

Gracias,

Bontu speaking to the DC-HAPP graduation.
Bontu speaking to the DC-HAPP graduation.
Bontu, Jordy, LAYC staff, and other THP youth.
Bontu, Jordy, LAYC staff, and other THP youth.
Bontu, her sister, and LAYC staff Andrea Thomas.
Bontu, her sister, and LAYC staff Andrea Thomas.
Jul 14, 2015

Meet Stephanie

Stephanie
Stephanie

Stephanie’s mom died when she was five years old. “I was there, she died in her sleep. I was in the room with her the whole time…that’s my last memory of her, trying to wake her up, like, ‘Mom, are you ok?’”

Stephanie’s father was incarcerated for most of her childhood. When he finally was in her life, he molested her.

Stephanie was angry for a lot of reasons—that her mother died, that her father abused her, that she had to act as a parent to her little brother. “I am my little brother’s mother, father, sister… I’m all that to him,” she shared.

A case like Stephanie’s is heartbreaking and dangerously close to tragic. She said herself, “I could be outside on the street right now… I could be dead.”

LAYC’s Street Outreach Program (SOP) meets youth like Stephanie every night. Youth who, for circumstances out of their control, are left with very few options. Youth in unstable living situations have higher instances of mental health problems, substance abuse, criminal activity/victimization, and unsafe sexual practices, as well as face barriers to education and employment (National Network for Youth, “Issue Brief: Consequences of Youth Homelessness”).

SOP staff outreach in the DC community to find homeless or unstably-housed youth and connect them with services. Youth receive case management and counseling, access to housing and education, sexual health education services, and workforce development training. Case managers work one-on-one with youth to determine their individual needs and create a plan for the future. Furthermore, LAYC staff represent permanent adult fixtures in youth’s lives – some of whom have never had such a luxury.

Stephanie, 22, is now working and safely housed, along with her little brother. She meets with Robin, an LAYC case manager, to talk about any issues in her life or to make progress towards her goals. She states, “LAYC is really helping me… I feel like here… they really do want to see you grow and prosper… Robin, I can go to her for anything.”

A donation $50 can provide emergency shelter for youth like Stephanie. Your support can mean the difference between a tragedy and a bright future. Please donate tomorrow, July 15th, starting at 9AM, to access matching funds from Global Giving and double your impact!

Thank you,

Photo of Stephanie with her brother.
Photo of Stephanie with her brother.
Stephanie meeting with LAYC case manager, Robin.
Stephanie meeting with LAYC case manager, Robin.
Jun 9, 2015

Meet Bontu

Bontu, 16, at LAYC.
Bontu, 16, at LAYC.

Dear Future Health Professional Supporter,

Meet Bontu: a driven 16-year-old with the goal of becoming an anesthesiologist. Bontu knows the answer to the ubiquitous question posed to many young people: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" She also knows what it will take to get there.

A native of Ethiopia, Bontu immigrated to the U.S. at a young age. Not knowing the language and customs of her new home, she faced many of the same challenges young immigrants from all over the world face as they adapt to a new school and life.  

"I came to America at the age of 11 and entered sixth grade without going to grades 1-6. My family did not speak, write, or read English. Therefore, I had to do it myself for my family, my community, and my world. I started to study every day and dedicated many hours to reading as well as writing English. I got better at doing those things, but wanted to do something that would help me change how individuals from America perceive Africans or even individuals from other countries. That was the time I discovered science and the impact it had on me," said Bontu.

 

Last fall, Bontu joined LAYC's Teen Health Promoters to pursue her dream of becoming an anesthesiologist. Bontu is completing her clinical internship at The George Washington University Hospital, and the staff there have taken note of her skills. The School of Medicine and Health Sciences Chapter awarded her the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Scholarship to support her education.

On her selection, Bontu says, "Getting this scholarship is very important to me, because I am one step closer to changing how we see the world... My dream is to give equal opportunities to those who deserve it by using science. Many might think it is impossible for me to achieve my dream simply because of where I came from and what I have been through, but as we all know the only thing that matters is where we want to end up."

Not only has Bontu received a scholarship from George Washington University, but she is also one of four Teen Health Promoters who have been selected to participate in the DC Health and Academic Prep program, a four-week summer experience at GWU for rising seniors interested in a health career. Along with a $2,500 stipend, youth will work directly with physicians and other medical professionals to learn about various health career paths, participate in college preparatory activities, receive support with the college application process, and build mentoring relationships for long-term academic and professional success. When remarking on these students’ success, Andrea Thomas, M.P.H., Sexual Wellness Program Manager and staff member at LAYC stated, “When I look at the Teen Health Promotors, I see the health leaders of the next generation.”

Because of you, youth like Bontu truly are becoming the health leaders of the next generation. Thank you! Every contribution expands the opportunities that these driven youth may access, including hands-on experience, internships, and scholarships. Please consider donating monthly to sustain the Teen Health Promoters program and support youth like Bontu.

Gracias,

Bontu measures blood pressure during a THP event.
Bontu measures blood pressure during a THP event.
Heading to GWU: Claudia, Bontu, Jordy, & Leslie.
Heading to GWU: Claudia, Bontu, Jordy, & Leslie.
 
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