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High school students on the path to success

Woodhaven teen Janine Nazario, 16, decided she wanted to be a physical therapist after her cousin became paralyzed from a gunshot a few years ago.
“I hope I can help him walk again,” she said.
Tazio Whyne, 17, from Cambria Heights, has his sights set on becoming a pathologist. He got turned on to microorganisms after getting a microscope at the age of 10. More recently, a high school microbiology course sealed the deal.
“I’m fond of diseases,” he said.
The two Medical Science Institute juniors at Hillcrest High School in Jamaica recently got one step closer to achieving their dreams. Both have been accepted into the Bridge to Medicine Program at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education.
“They’re the perfect type of student,” said Hillcrest principal Stephen M. Duch, adding that Nazario and Whyne are the kind of dedicated students that principals wish all students were—even their own children.
“These two students really deserve it,” said Amar Nepal, a Hillcrest science teacher and director of its Medical Science Institute. “They have worked hard. These are two students who are goal oriented and know what they want.”
Nonetheless, “They have their work cut out for them,” he said, giving a nod to the rigorous nature of the intensive pre-college program that will include Advanced Placement courses in English, calculus and chemistry four days a week to help prepare them for careers in medicine and science.
Nepal said that Hillcrest students have a long tradition of entering the year-long program, which was created to prepare highly motivated minority and disadvantaged high school seniors for coursework at Sophie Davis and other selective colleges and premedical programs.
“Luckily we’ve gotten them in year after year,” Nepal said.
As seniors next year, Nazario and Whyne will spend their mornings at Hillcrest and their afternoons at nearby York College four days a week. One day a week they will visit to colleges and cultural institutions, hear speakers and experience other enrichment opportunities. They will also have mentors.
Students must be in the top 10 percent of their graduating class to qualify for the program, according to the CUNY web site. They must have also successfully completed high school chemistry and eleventh-grade math and be leaning toward a career in the medical or scientific fields.
“It’s a firm foundation for the future and puts us in a mind frame to succeed,” said Whyne.
“It’s a great start,” said Nazario. “It’s a push to help you start and lead you in the direction you want to be.”

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