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Aquinas High School senior Juliette Gayton was one of only 15 high school students who completed a summer internship in health disparities research with Loma Linda University (LLU) through the Apprenticeship Bridge to College Program (ABC Program).

“I desired to participate in this program in order to understand the health disparities that are prevalent not simply in healthcare, but in our community,” Gayton said.

The ABC Program is a full-time, eight-week summer program that features hands-on biomedical research with an expert scientist, seminars on health disparities among minority and medically underserved populations, and various educational activities.

“From this experience, I learned not only the various health disparities that exist in the medical community that affect various socio-economic groups, but also the idea that as individuals, we should not be afraid of persisting to create opportunities and to make a change for those following our footsteps,” Gayton said.

The program’s goal is to increase diversity in the biomedical workforce in our local community and nationwide. LLU encourages students from disadvantaged backgrounds and belong to groups that are nationally underrepresented in the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines.

“In the San Bernardino area, the absence of access to healthcare, economic and educational resources are a notable discrepancy to the success of the minority civilians who live in our community,” Gayton said. “I am passionate about uniting our community and creating an environment where students take every opportunity regardless of their background or ethnicity.”

The students who participate in the ABC Program are tasked with completing a summer research project with leading scientific faculty at LLU. Gayton completed her research project, which is titled “Postnatal development through LPS/Hypoxia model in response to preterm hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy” and presented her findings to faculty, peers and family.

“I understand that the San Bernardino community has limited opportunities for students to conduct and present research; I am grateful to have had the experience and the support to continue in my education not just to pursue medicine, but to ultimately be the impact and the change in my community,” Gayton said.

Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the Inland Catholic BYTE.