AHS Student to Study Oncology

AHS Student Receives Unique Opportunity to Study Oncology
Posted on 04/25/2024

Jenkins, who is leaning toward pursuing a career in medical oncology, is one of 20 female high school students from across Virginia selected to participate in the Summer Healthcare Experience in Oncology Program. The program is offered through the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center in Richmond. The center offers pathway programs for students interested in biomedical sciences, specifically cancer research. 

Sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the Summer Healthcare Experience in Oncology Program seeks to identify female student leaders and expose them to the vast career opportunities in oncology, a field of medicine that is seeing a fast-growing demand for qualified healthcare professionals. Just in the short term, the American Society of Clinical Oncology projects a shortage of more than 2,200 hematologist oncologists and medical oncologists by 2025. Demand for cancer treatment is expected to grow 40 percent by 2025.   

In July, Jenkins will be part of a two-week virtual experience  for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors. The students are sent a lab kit to complete experiments the first week. In the second week they focus on career exploration in cancer research and medicine with students all over the nation. The online experience will include workshops, panel discussions, and hands-on research activities. Jenkins will also receive a $500 stipend as part of her participation in the VCU program. 

“It’s a huge honor for Taylor to be chosen for this program where she can connect with students nationwide who share an interest in oncology and healthcare leadership. Taylor has a passion for healthcare, and a strong drive to be successful in pursuing her educational goals to achieve an advanced healthcare degree. She will use her time in the summer and devote it to cancer research. It just says a lot about Taylor and her drive and her passion for the medical field,” said Ginni Phillips, Alleghany Highlands Advancement (AHA) coordinator for Alleghany Highlands Public Schools.

As part of the application process, Jenkins recorded a video to highlight her interest in oncology. She became interested in that field of medicine after watching her grandmother battle cancer.

“My grandmother really loved her doctors and nurses, and everyone who cared for her. As I saw that, I said, ‘I want to be like that for somebody else,’’' she said.

Jenkins is enrolled in an Introduction to Health Sciences Course at Jackson River Technical Center, and she is also part of an Advanced Healthcare Pathways program offered by AHPS. Advanced Healthcare Pathways started in fall 2022 as a pilot program with Randolph-Macon College in Ashland. 

The Advanced Healthcare Pathways program is designed to expose students to a wealth of opportunities that are available through Virginia’s colleges of universities, including those beyond becoming a physician.  The program was recognized for excellence through the Virginia School Boards Association (VSBA) Excellence in Workforce Readiness awards program in 2023. It offers mentoring opportunities for students interested in healthcare careers, including those that require advanced degrees. The program is the first-of-its-kind in the Commonwealth.   

“We are always searching for unique healthcare opportunities for our students. There are many specialized fields in healthcare, and this invaluable internship will assist Taylor with an insight in the oncology field, giving her hands-on experience to help shape her future” Phillips said. 

Jenkins says that Advanced Healthcare Pathways and the Introduction to Health Sciences class at JRTC have helped her chart her future in the medical field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in healthcare are expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2032. About 1.8 million job openings are projected each year. 

“I have been exposed to medical fields that I didn’t even know existed,” she said. “The class at JRTC has helped me start learning the basics. As an example, we learned about bones recently and all of the medical terminology. It’s really helping me along my career path.”

In the fall, Jenkins will likely attend the Jackson River Governor’s School at Mountain Gateway Community College. The governor’s school offers programs to highly capable high school juniors and seniors who have an above-average interest in math and science. 

At AHS, she is involved in the Key Club, the Pep Club, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also runs track and cross country.

“Taylor is part of a group of students who are very driven and interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. They are interested in anything that is out there to help prepare them for their career path, and that is so exciting to see,” Phillips said.

With approximately 2,700 students, AHPS was created when Alleghany County Public Schools, Covington City Public Schools, and Jackson River Technical Center merged in July 2022. The school division is jointly funded by Alleghany County and the City of Covington.  The school division’s strategic plan highlights student engagement including through programs such as AHA: Healthcare.  

AHPS news and events are regularly updated on Facebook at AHPublicSchools and Instagram at ahpublicschools. Information is also available at www.ahps.k12.va.us.

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