At Camp Med, South Side Senior’s Summer Featured ‘Cardiology 101’

“I’ve always imagined myself in a white coat helping people,” says Alvin Bonner, Jr. A senior at the University of Chicago Charter School, Woodlawn Campus (UCW), Alvin dreams of becoming a psychiatrist and helping people overcome trauma. 

Over the summer, Bonner took an important step on the road to achieving this dream. He spent three intense days at Albion College’s Camp Med. It’s designed to help high school students gain insights about medical careers.

At this summer’s camp, Cardiology 101, Bonner learned to use an EKG and studied the heart’s internal anatomy. He learned about the symptoms of heart disease and how differently a heart attack can present in men compared to women. “That was a surprise,” he said.  “I thought that men and women both show the same symptoms of a heart attack.” Though Bonner is more interested in the workings of the brain than the heart, he said the experience was engaging from beginning to end.

A medical school admissions officer also gave Bonner’s group tips on how to prepare for the competition to get in. Bonner discovered that internships and related experiences count more than an MCAT score. “I am getting a head start,” he noted with pride. He also earned a quarter-unit of college credit.

It Takes A Village to Get to Summer Camp

Perhaps most importantly, he enjoyed getting a taste of college life. Now he’s starting senior year fired up. His mother, Javonne Jones, said he came home “very excited to attend college and know[ing] the hard work it’s going to take to reach his goals.” These kinds of experiences are one more tool in the toolbox in Chicago’s effort to support more kids of color to and through college.

Bonner’s got to Camp Med thanks to his college counselors at UCW. An anonymous donor supported summer experiences at Camp Med for Bonner and four UCW classmates. The gift also funded summer experiences for students attending Wheaton College’s BRIDGE program, Carleton College’s Liberal Arts Experience, Balfour Scholars Program at Indiana University Bloomington, Northwestern Academy (two students), and UChicago Collegiate Scholars (two students).

“Alvin’s camp experience has led to enormous growth,” his mom raved. “It’s like a light bulb came on in his head. Programs like this are important because it opens young people’s eyes and helps them set goals for college. We are so grateful that Alvin was able to have this wonderful college experience.” 

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Maureen Kelleher

Chicago Unheard blog manager Maureen Kelleher also serves as a senior writer and editor at brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and brighter future for every child. Before joining the brightbeam team, she spent a decade as a reporter, blogger and policy analyst. Her work has been published across the education world, from Education Week to the Center for American Progress. A former high school English teacher, she is also the proud mom of a middle-schooler. Find her on Twitter at @KelleherMaureen.

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