In a University where perfect scores on science Advanced Placement exams and SAT subject tests are not surprising, Cardea Fellows allows science classes to be a bit less daunting. Cardea Fellows, a four-year pre-health program that incorporates creative seminars and interactive courses in biology and chemistry, helps students who may not have had such an opportunity to develop strong backgrounds necessary for health professions. This program, in its first semester, reflects this vision for not only the students but also for the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. “We really want students to know when to collaborate and to compete—and when to collaborate to compete,” said Lee Baker, Trinity dean of academic affairs. The program consists of Chem20, a required course of the curriculum, and Bio49S, “Medical Biology,” a freshman seminar. The curriculum still follows all Trinity requirements and it is managed in a flexible way, Baker said. Eighteen students were admitted this year, from two international countries and almost a dozen states. The students are selected by looking at their academic experiences, commitment to science, teamwork and their interest in Chem20. “True to our mission, we were seeking high-achieving students who enjoy working with others, but with limited backgrounds in science and math,” Alyssa Perz-Edwards, director of the Cardea Fellows Program, wrote in an e-mail. The program covers its expenses without any new funding from the University—it uses resources like the Academic Resource Center and pre-health advising staff, Perz-Edwards said. Duke has also been receiving donations from external sources, Baker noted. “The beauty of this is that this is an innovative program from a constrained budget,” Baker said. The special freshman seminar for this program is taught by Dan Scheirer, chief pre-health adviser and Trinity associate dean. His course uses interactive media that he wrote and designed called “Biology Basics” to replicate experiments by scientists Francesco Redi and Louis Pasteur. The seminar focuses on broad views of biology—the consistent and evolving knowledge base in the science—as well as new dynamic relationships between biology, politics, religion, business and technology. “The importance of this approach is that medical schools do not require applicants to be biology majors, or even science majors, although many are,” Scheirer wrote in an e-mail. “So my goal is to ‘bring biology to life’ for students with all kinds of majors.” With the help of these classes, the program helps students explore their career options as well, participants said. “I think that the program will help us understand the breadth of options in the health care field, and it will include programming specially targeted to improve our knowledge of medicine and health care,” freshman Andrew Lay, a program participant, wrote in an e-mail. Freshman Mariah Hukins, a Chronicle cartoonist, said the program changed her mind about medicine, opening her to the various aspects of the health field and “not just the stereotypical types.” As a new program with strong goals and purpose, the Cardea Fellows program centers on students’ potential and needs—not only academically but also socially, Perz-Edwards said.
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