Stony Brook Medicine’s Health Occupations Partnership for Excellence (HOPE) program held an inspiring “graduation” ceremony for 19 high school students on May 7 at Stony Brook University Hospital.
HOPE’s goal is to decrease healthcare disparities by increasing the number of healthcare providers from underserved and underrepresented racial and ethnic minority communities. Since 2005, the HOPE program has launched the college careers of 160 young people interested in pursuing careers in health care.
Students in the HOPE program spend two years afterschool on the Stony Brook campus and discover everything from the college application process to the inner workings of an operating room.
This year’s 19 graduates from the Brentwood, Longwood and Wyandanch school districts have been accepted to colleges such as Stony Brook University, Farmingdale State College, Queens College, Morgan State University, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Plattsburg, SUNY Binghamton, Hofstra University, Adelphi University and the University of Tampa.
Attending this year’s ceremony were two HOPE alumni who are currently undergraduate students at Stony Brook University. Both are volunteers in the HOPE program because they want to give back to a program that had a positive impact on their lives.
Smelanda Adam is a Health Sciences major with a concentration in emergency medicine. She has a minor in Health and Wellness and is on the pre-physician assistant track. When reflecting on her high school experience in the HOPE program, Smelanda said, “The HOPE program was the first outlet that gave me the opportunity to be exposed to the health field. Being in the hospital and learning about the different careers reinforced my need to work in the health field.”
Zerrin Kamal, a rising junior studying Biochemistry with a minor in Health, Medicine, and Society, plans to attend pharmacy school in the near future. She credits HOPE with being “extremely influential in shaping my career choices, as it exposed me to a variety of occupations, especially lesser known ones, and allowed me to further explore why I even chose to pursue a career in healthcare.”
“The HOPE program gives promising young people amazing opportunities to explore healthcare careers so that they can make educated decisions about their future – decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives,” said Yvonne Spreckels, Director of Community Relations for Stony Brook University Hospital and Director of the HOPE program.