High School Students Sample Biomedical Science at UVM Summer Academy

Destina Suren wants to work in biomedical science someday, but, at 17 years old, she’s not sure exactly what she will pursue. The high school student from Essex, Vermont, is delving into college-level health science this summer to explore options. She’s participating in UVM Summer Academy, a four-week residential and online program offered to high school juniors and seniors to explore areas of study and earn transferable college credit.

For two weeks in July, Duran joined peers from high schools across the U.S. in the laboratories and classrooms of Rowell building learning about human diseases, molecular genetics, clinical biochemistry and laboratory procedures. They developed skills in processing and analyzing biological specimens, maintaining instruments and relating lab findings to common diseases. The students continue to learn and correspond with each other through UVM’s online learning system.

 “It’s very hands-on and I’ve learned a lot that I didn’t know before,” said Katherine Ducharme, 16, of Marblehead, Massachusetts. “I wanted a real life look into what this field of study would be to see if it’s something I want to study in college.”

Max Heath, 18, enrolled in the course to become familiar with the UVM campus and facilities. An incoming first-year student from Southington, Connecticut, Heath will pursue a B.S. in Data Science.

“I’m considering biomedical science as an application field for data science, working with medical data,” Heath explained.

During the residential portion of the course, the students lived in central campus housing and explored campus amenities including the Davis Center, Howe Library and the athletic complex. Evening and weekend activities included outings to the UVM Adventure Ropes Course, Church Street Marketplace and a cruise on Lake Champlain.

Summer Academy gives high schoolers the opportunity to learn what college life is like first-hand while getting a head start on postsecondary studies.

“It’s cool to learn about my options for college,” said Isabella deKuyver, 17, of Haddonfield, New Jersey. “I want to do something medically-related, potentially at UVM.”


Janet Lynn Essman Franz
Biomedical and Health Sciences Lecturer Koela Ray demonstrates a lab procedure for students in the UVM Summer Academy, including Max Heath (right).
High-school students Adam Zuchowski (left) and Griffin Schneider prepare a DNA sample gel during a UVM Summer Academy course.