In recent years, Americans have seen race-base tensions rise throughout the country. One theory explaining this is that minority groups such as African-American and Latinos are not given the same opportunities as their Caucasian counterparts. To combat the inequalities, programs have sprouted up to educate and make sure minority groups get equal chances at education and career choices. One such program in Sacramento is the Minority Health Professions Mentor Program.

MHPMP Youth

MHPMP Youth

“The program give [the students] the opportunity to meet and get to know health professional who look like them and who are African-American [and] have a lot of similar background to our student [who] have overcome life challenges through perseverance resilience and utilizing their village to become successful,” says Sharon Chandler with MHPMP.

MHPMP is aiming to bring the health profession to minority groups, specifically young African-Americans between the age of twelve and twenty-one. On a recent shadowing experience, youth had the opportunity to take a tour of Sierra Donor Services. The Sierra Donor Services is a nonprofit program that helps provide organs and tissues for transplant all over Northern California.

During the tour, one of the hosts explained what inspired her to join the program, the death of her son. Her son became clinically brain dead after a car accident, and she was proud that he had signed up to be an organ donor.  Youth participants in attendance were very attentive, and some even commented that they would like to sign up to be a donor once they were old enough.

Next, they were taken to one of the labs. Inside they learned what a cornea is and what it does. A surgeon even came in and demonstrated how to prepare a cornea for transplant. The surgeon televised the operation on screen to provide a closer look. The younger ones asked a lot of questions while the older participants observed carefully what the surgeon is doing

Lastly, everyone had a chance to talk to one of the transplant surgeons, Dr. Kelly, who specializes in transplanting organs that are in the abdominal area. He shared stories with the students of how he became a doctor and how long it took him to get his all of his degrees. He told them how he grew up and the challenges he faced when attending school. The older students related a lot to him and asked for advice on what to do in their future medical careers to be successful like him.

All the students came in with an open mind and left with knowledge and a hunger for more education. The MHPMP is working hard to make sure that the students will have opportunities to experience things they wouldn’t have a chance to otherwise.