A typical school day for the 75 students in Beverly Hills High School’s Medical Science Academy is actually anything but typical.
“This class-slash-club is more like a family,” explains this year’s MSA President, BHHS junior Chantel Yeshova, “Most people don’t have an opportunity like this!”
MSA students explore learning on three different levels. At the helm of the academic classroom experience is Medical Science Academy Coordinator Colleen Lynch. Lynch teaches the UC approved Lab Science class Introduction to Medical Science, which focuses on clinical work, to year one students. Year two students take the UC approved Lab Science class Biotechnology, in which they hone their lab skills with a focus on research. The classes’ frequent guest speakers are medical professionals at forefront of both clinical and research work in the community.
What’s perhaps even more impressive - it’s the MSA students themselves who drive the leadership and service facets of the program.
“I call it setting them free from the classroom,” says Lynch, “It’s about students finding their own opportunities – finding different ways to get where they want to go.”
For Yeshova, the service aspect of MSA took her to Cedars Sinai Medical Center last year. This year, she plans to work with kids or serve as a patient escort at UCLA Medical Center – which is offering BHHS students in the second year of the MSA program exclusive placement in one of six departments.
“You can see if you like this field, or if you don’t like this field,” says Yeshova.
“It helps us specialize, just like doctors do, to see what our areas of interest are,” adds fellow year two MSA student, junior Gagan Mannur, “It’s about figuring out how to make connections yourself.”
Because MSA is structured as a class and a club, Mannur says it’s never boring.
“This science class is somewhat of a culture,” Mannur explains, “There’s no such thing as busy work – it’s all life skills.”
BHHS senior Michelle Heravi enjoyed her leadership role as a junior in MSA so much, she has now helped launch a mentorship branch for seniors who have completed the program, and what to see it grow.
“It has shaped ALL of my high school experience,” says Heravi, “It put me an environment I would have never had the opportunity to be in.”
That’s something you just can’t get from a textbook or typical classroom setting according to Heravi. Just last year, MSA students added fundraising to their impressive list of activities, which will focus this year on Autism Speaks and UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital. Heravi says the skills she’s learned throughout her MSA experience have provided her with invaluable material for the several college essays and applications she’s submitting this year.
“This is more than just a regular science class,” says Heravi, “I came in thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to do – but I had no clue exactly how big the field is! Now I’m exploring even more. It opens your eyes to so many different things.”
“The personalities of the students really come out when you allow them the freedom to show it,” says Lynch, “With these opportunities to pursue interests in healthcare as they prepare for college and career - you never know where it’s going to lead them!”
Group photo: BHHS Medical Science Academy Year 2 students
Classroom photos: BHHS Medical Science Academy Biotechnology class
Hospital photo from left to right: BHHS Medical Science Academy students Bahar Sepidnameh, Julien Farahmand, Michelle Heravi, and Julien Guilani volunteering at Cedars Sinai Medical Center