By Catherine Lazenby
The Dean Stuart Feldman Summer Science Institute (DSFSSI) gives high school students an up close look into the college experience – and a glimpse into the many career possibilities in pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences.
Hosted by the UGA College of Pharmacy, the DSFSSI is a week-long immersive program for Georgia high school juniors and seniors interested in this valuable health profession. Wrapping up its 13th year, the science institute is the legacy and passion of one of the College’s former leaders and current supporters.
In 2002, Dr. Stuart Feldman, who served as dean of the College of Pharmacy from 1991-1999,established the Stuart Feldman Academic Support Fund to “…foster and support activities that educate and inform students, faculty, and staff of the importance and value of diversity within the College of Pharmacy, health care, and health professions.” In 2010, his fund supported the beginning of a week-long summer Science Academy for high school students who had a strong aptitude in math and science. In honor of his efforts, the academy was renamed the Dean Stuart Feldman Summer Science Institute.
Still today, the institute exposes teens to unique classroom and laboratory experiences, including an early look at the components students should expect from a college education. The intensive schedule enriches students through engaging discussions with College faculty members, hands-on labs, field trips to research laboratories, a leadership seminar, and much more. The students’ week-long work culminates in a banquet, when they work in groups to present their research findings from the program.
Since its inception, almost 250 Georgia high schoolers have experienced DSFSSI. Of these participants, 20 have gone on to enroll in the College of Pharmacy. Dr. Vivia Hill-Silcott, director of the College of Pharmacy’s Diversity Programs and Academic Support, has led the efforts of the program since its inception.
Said Dean Feldman, “The Summer Science Institute allows high school students from across the state to learn about science, healthcare, and pharmacy as career paths; it also introduces them to UGA. Essentially, this program is a pipeline for diverse students to enroll in health professionalprograms, UGA, and the College of Pharmacy. This kind of pathway leads to a diverse healthcare workforce, which eventually can help reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes in communities across the state and beyond. I am so pleased that Dr. Hill-Silcott and her colleagues took my vision of what a successful program could look like and turned it into reality.”
Twenty high school students from 12 counties across the state attended this year’s summer program. The students caught a glimpse of college life, residing in UGA’s Myers Hall dormitory for the duration of the week. DSFSSI alumni, along with rising second- and third-year Doctor of Pharmacy students, served as program ambassadors, guiding the participants on their week-long scientific immersion.
Said one participant, Kynne, from Lithonia, “With the support and wisdom of the faculty and staff of UGA, I have learned my true passion for medical science through hard work and determination. I cannot wait to not only rejoin the program in later years, but I am excited to join the UGA family and become a PharmDawg!”
Casey, from Duluth, added, “I enjoyed every moment that I was in the program! Everyone who I was with was a highlight of this whole experience, as well as the immersive labs and lectures that really expanded my knowledge.”
A call for applications will be released in early spring of 2024 for next year’s summer program.For further information, contact Dr. Vivia Hill-Silcott.
Dean Stuart Feldman stands among the participants of this year’s Summer Science Institute