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Students Excel at PMSA’s 3rd Annual Research Symposium

Each year PMSA students conduct intense research and work side-by-side with mentors/community partners from an array of professional fields in preparation for PMSA’s Annual Research Symposium. At the Symposium students present and defend their year-long research to the entire community. This year PMSA opened its doors for the third time as students lined the halls ready to draw in symposium attendees to whom students detail their journey of discovery. The research mentorship is a flagship of the Academy in which students work with professionals, conduct research, and venture into their fields of interest.

“This program helps our students get out into the real world and experience what life is like in a business, a hospital, an educational organization, or a research facility,” said PMSA research workshop teacher Robert Markus. “It offers them a clearer perception of what their futures will be once they graduate college. It is a lot of work and it is hard work, but once they get used to it they always excel. I’m tremendously proud of them. They all came through with flying colors.”

All PMSA students participate in research from freshman to senior year. During the final two years, students partner with professionals to learn in various fields including: science, education, medicine, health, pop-culture, film, and government operations.

PMSA seniors Aunaja Senior and Nalisha Logan went to UIC for their mentorship. They studied the biology in UIC’s medical lab with bio-chemist and MRI specialist Dr. Robert Kelps. They both say the experience was life changing and well worthwhile.

“The mentorship program was a great experience for me,” said Senior. “It was a good way to prepare me for college and it allowed me to experience new things. When I graduate I am going into the medical field to become an obstetrician. During my mentorship, I had an opportunity to use some of the same machines that I will use in college.”

Logan agreed, “The mentorship program gave me the chance to be introduced to the UIC campus, which is where I will be attending college,” she said. “The whole experience really prepared me for college research, my college transition, and independence. As we do our research, we learn so much. We have to maintain professional relationships with everyone we meet, we have to be committed to our research projects, and we have to do the research on our own. It was good preparation for college and the workplace.”

Their mentor, Robert Kelps, is a second year community partner within the mentorship program. He stood beside them as they presented their research to the world. When asked what he hoped his mentees learned, Kelps said that critical thinking is a major tenet he hopes he has passed along.

“The students conducted chemical research,” said Kelp. “They organized and learned the lab equipment. They did various literature searches to support their research. They were involved in everything that the real-world requires. Overall, I hope they learned to think more critically about what they are told. I hope they learned not to just accept the way things are done but to analyze why things are done the way that they are.”

PTHS 209 Superintendent Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart and the PTHS 209 Board of Education expressed their gratitude for the various mentors and PMSA’s flagship program-- calling it a catalyst for growth, development, and academic excellence.

“We are very fortunate to partner with so many dedicated professionals across our communities and the Chicago-land area,” said Collins-Hart. “They take our students in. They teach them professionalism and scholarly excellence and that is something that they can take with them to college and beyond.”

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