Youth Empowerment at Esperanza College’s Minorities in Health Sciences Symposium

October 28, 2022 | Susan Cosgrove

On October 14, Esperanza College hosted their annual Minorities in Health Sciences Symposium. This event empowers youth to explore science that is relevant to our world today, and consider ways to make an impact together. This year’s Symposium marked a return to in-person sessions, and involved a continued focus on diabetes prevention and management. HCIF served as the event’s lead sponsor, through funding from Novo Nordisk to support Cities Changing Diabetes.

Featured sessions included inspirational keynotes, lunchtime panels with professionals in the health and science fields, student poster presentations, and afternoon activities. The hallways buzzed with excitement as students gained hands-on experience with DNA extraction, a dissection lab, virtual reality, 3-D printing, and other interactives from local science and health institutions. About 300 students attended the Symposium.

“There is so much talent in our youth, and sometimes all they need is a nudge, or seeing someone that looks like them that can inspire them to set goals and reach for them,” said Nilsa Graciani, PhD, Chief STEM Officer. “That is one of the reasons we present the Minorities in Health Sciences Symposium. This year the students not only learned about diabetes, but also learned about grit and determination. We really appreciate HCIF and Cities Changing Diabetes, our lead sponsor, and our other sponsors and all the people that care for our youth and brought their energy and expertise to the event to make it a success.”

Students in attendance at the event shared that it opened their eyes to different options, and that the speakers gave a lot of useful advice that they will use. According to one participant, the four keynote speakers, “really helped me have a better understanding of the medical pathways.” Another student said, “It provided a bunch of information in variety of areas in the healthcare field. In addition, the guest speakers who actually had experiences in these fields were very helpful in understanding their day to day life in their field.”

Esperanza College is one of the first Hispanic-serving institutions in Pennsylvania, and has spent the past three decades providing a variety of programs and institutions to build an “opportunity community” where all can live and thrive. As a partner in Cities Changing Diabetes, Esperanza established Champions of Hope, a youth-led diabetes education and prevention initiative, and the companion Diabuddy app that educates and encourages youth to complete wellness activities and challenges.

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