Inspiring Students in Our Local Communities

Photo courtesy of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science
As Latino youth pursue higher education opportunities, they face several challenges, including financial cost and the lack of role models. The Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science hopes to address some of these challenges by piloting the Impart New Scholastic Potential and Illuminate Rosalind Franklin Education (INSPIRE) Summer Research Program.
The INSPIRE program provides high school students from underrepresented populations the opportunity to engage in hands-on biomedical original research with faculty and graduate student mentors where they learn laboratory techniques, bioethics, experimental design, data entry and analysis. Students also receive guidance with the development of personal and professional goals through weekly meetings with their graduate student mentors.

Four underrepresented minority students from Waukegan High School and St. Martin de Porres High School, also in Waukegan, Illinois, were selected as candidates for INSPIRE based on their academic potential, progress and passion for the health professions.

“Not only do we want to teach them to think like scientists, but we also want to be a part of their extended academic family, offering the support they need to succeed now and in the future,” said Hector Rasgado-Flores, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics and INSPIRE program director.

The program paired the high school students with University graduate students, faculty and staff who facilitated access to research opportunities, lab experiences and safety protocol education in the healthcare field. Thanks to a generous grant award, the University was able to offer the high school students a stipend and gave support for supplies to each of the laboratories.