Skip to Content
Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

DCEG Supports NIH Summer Enrichment Program for High School Students

During the summer of 2016, Jackie Lavigne, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of the DCEG Office of Education (OE), along with several DCEG fellows, developed a curriculum and presented topics for the NIH High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP). HiSTEP was designed to expand opportunities for financially disadvantaged high school students interested in STEM-M (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medically-related) fields. A total of 26 students chosen for the program spent five weeks in a full-time internship at NIH learning about biomedical research.

DCEG volunteers to the Hi-STEP program

DCEG volunteers (from left): Diane Wigfield, Arena Del Mar Morillo, Pavel Chernyavskiy, Jackie Lavigne, Tracy Layne

OE staff and fellows presented two sessions. The first took place during the week-long session focused on research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The DCEG portion focused on the role of public service announcements (PSAs) in drug or alcohol abuse prevention. Dr. Lavigne gave an overview of public health communications. Students were then divided into groups to develop video PSAs related to one of five topics: abuse of prescription drugs, synthetic marijuana, alcohol, heroin, and marijuana. Dr. Lavigne, Diane Wigfield, and several DCEG fellows served as facilitators. Each group considered the goal of the PSA, the appropriate message for the video, and its target audience. They developed a concept, final message, and produced a short video PSA.

DCEG volunteers to the HiSTEP program

DCEG volunteers (from left): Shakira Nelson, Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Diana Withrow, Megan Herr, Payal Khincha

In their second session OE volunteers discussed “hot topics in public health.” Dr. Lavigne presented the fundamental concepts and language of epidemiology. DCEG facilitators split the students into two groups, one focused on the Zika virus, and the other on the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. The Zika group discussed the approach of epidemiologists dealing with the crisis and role-played how different individuals might decide whether to travel to the summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil, where Zika is endemic. The students focused on Flint reviewed the history of the crisis, the role of health professionals and community members, and the steps needed to resolve the problem.

DCEG fellow and staff participants included: Pavel Chernyavskiy, Arena Del Mar Morillo, Vanessa Gordon-Dseagu, Megan Herr, Payal Khincha, Tracy Layne, Lydia Louis, Shakira Nelson, Diana Withrow, and Diane Wigfield.

"The volunteers unanimously concluded that HiSTEP was an incredibly rewarding experience,” said Dr. Lavigne. “We envision bright futures for these high school students, and we hope a few will go on to become public health professionals!"