Starting on pathways to potential careers, students who attended a camp at Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School (FSEM) completed their summer of exploration Aug. 14 with an exercise in a moot courtroom and some real exercise in a pool.
The children, ranging in age from 9 to 14, came to the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law to learn about the topic of freedom of speech, guided by a group of second-year law students who are devoted to community outreach. Next came a last chance to splash and swim in the URecFit pool.
Earlier this summer the youngsters had engaged in activities designed to introduce them to the disciplines of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and social work. The regimen, sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), was intended to open their minds to their own academic potential in the future.
It’s been like this for six weeks, as the youngsters spent one day each week at UMB for a learning activity at the various schools, capped with fun and fitness made possible by URecFit. The finale on Aug. 14 was special in several ways, and not just for the eager children. They had a chance to meet UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, and Elsie Stines, DNP, MS, CRNP, of the President’s Office.
Perman gave them advice about dreaming big and sticking to their goals, overcoming the discouraging words they might hear from naysayers. “Pay them no mind,” he said. And one day, he said, they might become physicians like him, nurses like Stines, or attorneys like Kirk Crawley, JD ’88, the founder of the camp.
Or perhaps a social worker, a pharmacist, a physical therapist, or a dentist. The idea was to make such professions real to the youngsters, who on July 10 got a lesson in financial capacity from a social worker and, on July 17, a behind-the scenes look at a model pharmacy at the School of Pharmacy. They interacted with robotic patients in simulation laboratories at the School of Nursing on July 24, received an anatomy lesson at the School of Medicine on July 31, and created molds using dentists’ materials on Aug. 7.
On Aug. 14, as camp concluded at the Southern Management Corporation Campus Center (SMCCC), the children had been let in on the secret that it was Perman’s birthday. “You are all so nice!” he exclaimed after the group greeted him by singing “Happy Birthday.”
One of the youngest campers, Zoe Fisher, was anticipating her own birthday on Aug. 16, when she would turn 10, and the cutting of a birthday cake had a special meaning for her, too. The oldest camper, Precious McKnight, told an observer how she had been inspired by the freedom of speech exercise at Maryland Carey Law.
“You don’t necessarily have to know what you want to do, quite yet,” said the 14-year-old. “But you have to look for that one thing that gets you passionate.”
“I really want to experience and be involved in law,” she continued, “to speak for people who don’t have a voice for themselves and because I like to debate and get the other side.”
In a sendoff, the children received certificates of completion. Gathered for the ceremonies were Ashley Valis, MSW; executive director, strategic initiatives and community engagement; Brian Sturdivant, MSW, director, strategic initiatives and community partnerships; and William “Bill” Joyner, MSW, coordinator, community engagement, all of OCE. Each had participated in one or more camp activities over the summer.
Representing URecFit were William “Bill” Crockett, MS, RCRSP, executive director, campus life operations and SMCCC; and Meghan Bruce-Bojo, MSW, assistant director, URecFit. They bestowed gift items of URecFit buttons and reusable totes.
Alumnus Crawley collaborated with OCE so that the activities on campus would supplement those conducted at the public school, which is located in the Franklin Square neighborhood, one of seven neighborhoods partnering with UMB and others in the Southwest Partnership.
FSEM Principal Terry F. Patton supported the camp, whose staff included a science teacher at FSEM; Crawley, who is a social studies teacher; and others such as former participants who are now adults.
“The camp at UMB has provided my students an opportunity for career exploration in pathways that they could have only imagined before, causing them to be excited and committed to learning,” said Crawley.