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NIH Record

Latino Students Explore Health Research Opportunities

One hundred-sixty high school students of Latino heritage from 19 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico saw the inner workings of different health research and policymaking agencies during this year's National Hispanic Youth Initiative (NHYI), in two busy sessions during the month of July.

At each weekly session, a group of 80 NHYI participants was immersed in the world of health care in the federal sector. Following tours of NIH's research facilities and meetings with scientists, the students were treated to a full week of conferences and briefings at the Office of Minority Health, FDA, HRSA and EPA laboratories, where top officials and leaders in health and research discussed issues that centered on the health needs of Hispanic communities.

Andrea Borghese of Lehman College in New York City, along with other NIH Latino interns, discusses hands-on research training and experience with NHYI participants.

NHYI aims to encourage Latino youth to pursue careers in health and medicine. NIH and other agencies gave orientations on academic opportunities and careers. The students also sat in on a White House briefing and a meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Participants in NHYI are juniors and seniors who have grade point averages of at least 3.5 and are recommended for the program by their science teachers. The program, in its ninth year, is administered by the InterAmerican College of Physicians and Surgeons and funded by HHS, different ICD's and private foundations.

John Medina, Diversity Program manager at NIH and member of the NHYI board, said NHYI plays a pivotal role in President Clinton's Executive Order 12900, "Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans" and Secretary Shalala's Hispanic Agenda for Action.

Most of the program's participants eventually enroll in institutions of higher education and seek out careers in science or health-related areas, he said. A good number of NHYI alumni return to NIH to do their internships, he added. "The program is our main pipeline in developing future Latino scientists and researchers for NIH and HHS."

Several students from this year's National Hispanic Youth Initiative look forward to a tour of NCI facilities.

After giving a tour, Dr. Ofelia Ana Olivero (seated), NCI research associate, pauses for a photo.

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