iana Marquez took a hard look at her life after her best friend was critically injured in a drive-by shooting near her home in South Los Angeles.
She was about to start high school, but didn’t think she could stay focused on her studies in this environment. “I wanted to do something better in my life than claim a hood, but I was hanging out with the wrong group,” she says.
Diana decided to follow her older brother’s lead and enroll at Fairfax High School in West Hollywood. This led her to Cedars-Sinai’s Youth Employment & Development (YED) program, which brings Fairfax students to the hospital in their junior and senior years to learn job skills and receive mentoring from healthcare professionals.
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Many YED students come from disadvantaged homes and difficult environments. Nearly all end up earning high school diplomas and going to college. Some now work at Cedars-Sinai.
Diana’s older brother went through YED and became a pre-med student at San Francisco State University. She recently completed her second year with YED and graduated from high school. Her YED experience included doing office tasks for the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Cedars-Sinai.
Interacting with healthcare professionals at Cedars-Sinai and observing them in their roles broadened her thinking about her future career.
“I love children and I wanted to be a pediatrician, but now I want to keep my options open,” she says.
The next big step in Diana’s life is attending UC Riverside as a biomedical engineering major. When she looks back on her decision to remove herself from a peer group that was influenced by gangs, the word that comes to her mind is “respect.”
“In the hood, you get respect when people fear you. I learned a different kind of respect at Fairfax High School and Cedars-Sinai. I learned that respect is being admired for who you are and what you do.”
he high school students are wide eyed as they walk the corridors of Cedars-Sinai during a tour led by Carmen Adams, RN. At one point, she asks the students to put on scrubs and masks so they can visit an operating room that’s not in use. They’re thrilled to enter a world they’ve seen only on TV.
Daniel Bachar, RN, walks into the OR just after the students and immediately shifts into teaching mode, answering questions about the imaging cameras and other surgical equipment.
When it’s time to move on, the students fold their scrubs to keep as souvenirs. “That was awesome,” says one senior from nearby Hamilton High
School who wants to become a nurse. She’s one of about 125 students from six high schools who have come to hear a series of inspiring talks by Cedars-Sinai nurses and get a behind-the-scenes view of the hospital. The annual event is a collaborative effort involving the Medical Center’s Health Careers Academy and its Geri and Richard Brawerman Nursing Institute.
hen seventh- and eighth-grade students get to perform virtual surgery on a phantom skull using 3-D imaging, they get the idea that a career in this field could be pretty cool.
Keith Black, MD, the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience, created the annual Brainworks event to bring underrepresented students from Los Angeles schools to Cedars-Sinai to experience “a day in the life” of a neurosurgeon.
“Our goal is to fire a passion for science and medicine by giving students a chance to discover the excitement that comes from solving medical problems through research,” says Dr. Black, chair of the Cedars-Sinai Department of Neurosurgery and director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurological Institute, which sponsor the event.