ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. -- Forty middle school students from the Alamance-Burlington School System have a job to do. They have to carefully examine cells in order to find the DNA that matches the sample found at a crime scene. For seventh-grader Lamin Dennis, the task is a fun learning tool.
"It's cool!" Lamin said "You get to see DNA, you get to see things inside of your body. It's awesome!"
While the crime scene is not real, the excitement over science is. Welcome to the Medical Bridge Summer Camp at Alamance Community College. The goal of the first-year program is to carry the love of science into higher grades and get minority males interested in medical careers. In 2014, the Association of American Medical Colleges said 515 black men enrolled in medical school. Compare that to 541 black males that enrolled in 1978.
Lakeisha Vance is the coordinator of the Medical Bridge Summer Camp. She says the camp is what minority males need in order to prepare for the medical school experience.
"These students answer questions, they ask insightful questions, they love the hands on activities," Vance said. "We visited Duke Medical School last week and some of them held a brain. So they were very excited about that."
The Medical Bridge Summer Camp also challenges the students' math and science skills. Research cited by the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that advanced placement classes at the grade school level can help steer students into math and science careers. Vance agrees.
"This is an age where students start to determine what it is they want to do," Vance said. "So this is a good time to reach out to them."
Seventh-grader Christian Conforme feels the three-week camp will make him a better student.
"I have increased my knowledge of science," Christian said. "I already know some stuff about DNA that can help me a lot."
And by being better prepared, Christian is confident that he will be able to achieve his dream.
"I want to become a doctor in the Army because if I become a doctor in the Army, I can help soldiers and people on the battlefield that are wounded," he said.
The 40 students are on the A/B honor roll. They also had to complete an essay in order to become a part of the camp.