Student Spotlight

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A Taste of ’Cane Life:

High School Junior Finishes College-Level Psychiatry and Health Courses, Immerses Himself in College Life During Summer Program

When high school junior, Zachary, packed his bags to head for a campus dorm room as part of the University of Miami’ Division of Continuing & International Education Summer Scholars Program, he didn’t know a soul in Miami. He chose two classes based on his thoughts of maybe one day becoming a doctor. Three weeks later, he’d met lifelong friends from around the world, secured six college credits and confirmed his desire to pursue a pre-med track. And after getting a taste of life as a ‘Cane, he put the University of Miami at the top of his college wish list.

“It was probably the greatest three weeks of my life!” says the New Yorker. “The level of responsibility I was given made me feel like an adult. It made me feel like I was already a part of the University of Miami community.”

Thinking he might want to pursue medicine as a career, Zachary chose public health and psychiatry courses, one of 15 academic tracks. He spent his weekday mornings on campus in Coral Gables learning about public health – fulfilling the prerequisite for students taking the psychiatry or infectious disease course. After a quick lunch, he and 17 classmates would then ride the Metrorail (Miami-Dade’s elevated mass transit train) with community assistants – University of Miami students who served as counselors in the Summer Scholars Program – to Jackson Memorial Hospital. At Jackson, which is the flagship hospital of Miami-Dade’s public health system, they took an afternoon psychiatry class. “I learned so much,” Zachary says. “It confirmed what I want to study later on. It’s fascinating how you can look at the brain and look at the way people are developing and at what can interfere with that development.”

The courses were intense, Zachary says, but there was plenty of downtime to enjoy the campus and the city. After class, he’d meet up with his friends in the “fish bowl,” an area on the first floor of the dorm, to catch up and study before heading out to play basketball or swim at the on-campus pool. Available off-campus weekend activities included a trip to root for the Marlins baseball team and an outing to tag sharks with the University’s marine biology program. “There were always social activities going on,” says Zachary, 16. “We were all teenagers looking to get into college, and a lot of us had the same interests. We maintained our friendships and still talk all the time.”

There’s even rumblings of a reunion – and maybe another summer at the University of Miami. “Once you go Miami, it’s hard to try to match it with another experience, so I have the option of applying for another summer,” Zachary explains. “But I’d also love to intern at the hospital where I took the psychiatry class.”

About the University of Miami Summer Scholars Program
The University of Miami Summer Scholars Program gives current high school sophomores and juniors the opportunity to earn college credit and explore college life during three summer weeks living on campus at the University of Miami. Students take two courses from 15 academic specialties, earning six college credits in specialties from forensics and psychiatry to filmmaking and international business. Summer Scholars from outside the U.S. can also take a non-credit intensive English program.

The Summer Scholars Program goes beyond the classroom, too. Students have the option to commute or live in dorms at UM’s Coral Gables main campus, eat in dining halls, study together and enjoy university amenities such as the library, pool, and Wellness Center. Weekends include group excursions around South Florida, from special museum trips to snorkeling in Key Largo.