Some 217 students from area high schools and Meridian Community College got the chance to learn more about careers in science, engineering, medicine and other STEM positions when the College hosted its 15th annual Pre-Professional Student Day Friday in the Tommy E. Dulaney Center.peakers from Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Mississippi Rural Physicians/Dentists Health Scholarship Program, East Central Mississippi Health Network Family Medicine Residency Program and MCC delved into the topics of majoring in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, veterinary medicine and engineering.
“It’s one of our biggest academic outreaches,” said Stephanie Brown, MCC science instructor who coordinated this year’s Pre-Professional Day. Brown said many students do not understand what it takes to become a doctor, pharmacist, engineer or other STEM career positions and the Pre-Professional Day sheds light on the expectations and pathways to these careers.
“Pre-Professional Day puts them in contact with deans and directors of the programs,” Brown said, adding, “that initial contact is so critical.” MCC sophomore Alliyah Sims agreed. She came to Pre-Professional Day to specifically meet with Mississippi State University Veterinary School officials Dr. Brittany Moore-Henderson and Dr. Allison Gardner.
The event also yields another benefit. “It helps the professional schools in recruiting as well,” Brown said. Meredith Pyle, admissions counselor for the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, concurred. “We see so many great kids coming to this,” she said.
A senior at West Lauderdale High School, Maddie Fields spoke to Dr. John Smith from the University of Mississippi Medical School about dentistry. “I wasn’t thinking about dentistry until I heard you talking about it,” Fields told Smith. “I’ve always been interested in medicine, but didn’t know where I wanted to go,” she said. Another West Lauderdale student, Kaylee Brown, said she came to Pre-Professional Day to broaden her horizons. “I wanted to learn as much as I can.”
And, the event serves as a way for MCC to reach out to the community. MCC President Dr. Thomas Huebner Jr. told the audience, “I’m excited to see so many of you who are interested in these pre-professional programs.
“We’re trying to develop programs to what they need in industry – whether that industry is in health care, engineering or STEM-related fields. It’s important that whatever choice you make after high school that you are well equipped to be whatever you want to be, and we take that task very seriously here at Meridian Community College,” he said.
Citing the predicted upcoming shortages in health care industry in the next decade, Huebner said to the students, “if you are smart enough, if you have the passion and the drive and most importantly, you care about people and making a difference in the community, then you’re going to want to pursue a career in those types of fields. And if you do that, we hope you start here at Meridian Community College.”