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SUNY Upstate wins $1.1 million grant

SUNY Upstate Medical University has received a $1.1 million federal grant to direct a new program designed to prepare students from underrepresented groups from the Syracuse City School District for careers in the health professions, officials announced this morning.

The program, known as the Health Careers Opportunity Program or HCOP, will provide students with academic support through high school and into college so that they may improve their potential for admission into graduate school or professional training programs in the health professions. The program also includes $50,000 for the purchase of science equipment for the Syracuse City School District.

"These students have the desire and drive to excel in this field, but what they need is enhanced academic and professional support to help them compete on an even playing field," said Barbara Hamilton, assistant dean for multicultural resources at SUNY Upstate. "It is imperative that we as a community combine our efforts and resources to ensure that all students have the opportunities to become tomorrow's doctors, researchers and health care providers."

Syracuse City School District Superintendent Stephen C. Jones said, "We are very excited about this venture. The district has a long and distinguished record in preparing students for health care careers and this grant will allow us to accelerate and expand our efforts. We are very pleased with our partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical University."

While the program will be administered by SUNY Upstate, a number of area colleges and other institutions have agreed to support the program in a variety ways, such as providing student internships and offering academic advising. Institutions signing on as partners are the Syracuse City School District, Colgate University, SUNY Morrisville, Syracuse University, Syracuse Community Health Center, Cazenovia College, LeMoyne College, Onondaga Community College and the Onondaga County Department of Health.

HCOP is comprised of three distinct educational components: the Summer Academy, Saturday Academy and the Health Care Summer Program (HCSP).

The Summer Academy, which will be offered this summer, is an eight-week program open to 30 pre-ninth graders from the Syracuse City School District. Students will be selected on the basis of academic performance, teacher recommendation and a stated desire for a career in science or health care. The academy will introduce students to research and health career opportunities through presentations from professionals and tours of area health care facilities, including SUNY Upstate Medical University. Students also will be taught test-taking strategies and other studying tips and tactics. In an attempt to offset the loss of wages from a summer job, the Summer Academy will offer a $500 stipend to each enrolled student. The first Summer Academy will begin June 25.

Students who complete the Summer Academy successfully will be eligible to join the Saturday Academy, an 18-week program beginning in the ninth grade and continuing through 12th grade. The Saturday Academy will offer enrichment courses in English, math and science.

"These academies will reinforce the instruction students receive in their school as well as provide them with a firm foundation of knowledge on which to excel in their studies," Hamilton said.

Hamilton said that throughout the two academies, students will be prepped for college entrance examinations and offered insight into how to develop an outstanding college admissions application. "We want these students to be competitive at the very best schools," she said. "We'd certainly like them to considered pursuing their degrees at Upstate Medical University."

HCSP is a program designed to enhance and enrich science education for college students. The eight-week program, which starts June 25, is opened to students in the summer of their sophomore year who are attending Cazenovia College, Colgate University, LeMoyne College, Onondaga Community College, SUNY Morrisville and Syracuse University. Students enrolled in the program will receive a $2,000 stipend to offset the loss of summer wages.

"The focus is similar to the high school program in that HCSP offers additional work in math and science for students, as well as helps develop test-taking strategies," Hamilton said. The $1.1 million grant, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, covers each program for three years.

For information on how to apply for any of the above programs, please contact Barbara Hamilton at 464-5433.