OUTREACH: Native Hawaiian high school students from the Neighbor Islands spend a day in medical school

The Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence and the Department of Native Hawaiian Health hosted a group of high school students from the Neighbor Islands during the students’ spring break on March 19, 2013.

The high schoolers are part of Nā Pua No`eau (the talented flowers), a program for gifted and talented Native Hawaiian children from kindergarten through 12th grade, at sites throughout the University of Hawai`i system (on all major islands). Nā Pua No`eau is an educational project funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

JABSOM faculty of our Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence (NCOE) and Department of Native Hawaiian Health (DNHH) programs wore kīhei and performed an `oli to welcome the students. JABSOM knows our future health professionals can be found in classrooms throughout the State at any grade level. The Native Hawaiian Center of Excellence, like Nā Pua No`eau, exists to reach out to young people, encourage them to consider health careers, and to empower them with the knowledge that they can succeed in any number of professions by using their unique talents.

JABSOM Dean Jerris Hedges greeted them at mid-day in the Biosciences Building, where the promising young scientists received anatomy instruction from Steven Labrash, who also coordinates JABSOMʻs Willed Body Program.

Dr. Sasha Fernandes, a JABSOM graduate and NCOE Health Careers Student Recruitment Specialist, led the students in a session in JABSOM’s Center for Clinical Skills. The center features a suite of examination rooms where MD students learn first-hand, encountering volunteer “patients” who are taught to present themselves as patients with certain markers of illness or disease.

The high school students also enjoyed a visit to the Native Hawaiian Healing Garden on the JABSOM grounds, where DNHH nurtures Native Hawaiian traditional healing plants. The plants, including kukui, popolo, `awa and `ohi`a lehua, are also depicted in carvings, wall hangings and etchings on the JABSOM 9.9 acre campus.

The JABSOM Kaka`ako complex was built with monies the Hawai`i State Legislature dedicated to the school from the Master Settlement Agreement with major tobacco manufacturers, to settle legal claims over illnesses connected to smoking.

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