It’s only March and two of the Oncofertility Saturday Academies (OSA) have already completed their graduation ceremonies. With this newest class, the Oncofertility Saturday Academies have educated more than 240 students across the US. Last weekend, Mary Zelinski, PhD, who heads one of the Oncofertility Consortium‘s research projects, wrapped up this year’s Oregon academy at the Oregon Primate Research Center (ONPRC). Here’s what she had to say:
By Mary Zelinski, PhD
The Oncofertility Saturday Academy held at the Oregon National Primate Research Center and Oregon Health & Science University graduated on February 25, 2012. The students celebrated their accomplishments by sharing outstanding posters, delicious pizza and interesting views on some ethical issues involving this rapidly evolving field. Ten high school students from the Portland metropolitan area met for six consecutive Saturdays to learn about the field of Oncofertility through hands-on labs and lectures. This year, we even had the sister of one the students in our first ‘official’ Oregon OSA graduating class!
On our first day of class, each student was assigned a cancer patient needing information and guidance about their fertility, and by the final class, the students shared their recommendations for fertility preservation options specific to their individual patient. Another highlight of the graduating class was a morning of very moving presentations by young cancer patients, both of whom had been recently diagnosed, and their quest to preserve their fertility. This really put the entire content of the class into a real-life context for the students.
The Oregon OSA was again a big success, thanks to the efforts of Diana Gordon, Director of Education Outreach at ONPRC, Mary Zelinski, Associate Scientist at ONPRC and class instructor, Lynda Jones, Oregon OSA Curriculum Development Coordinator, and Dr. David Lee, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, OHSU. Here are some student comments:
“We were trusted to do real experiments and really got to dig deeper into current research about oncofertility.”
“I really enjoyed being able to participate in hands-on experiments and explore a field that is relatively new in science.”
“I loved talking to Dr. Lee and the cancer patients, and I loved ultrasounding the monkey. I would make there be an Oncofertilty II class that I could take!”
“The hands-on labs and interactive parts (like the suture lab…) were FANTASTIC!”
“I liked the size of the class, the opportunities given by the instructor were unique, and I absolutely loved all the activities we did in class.”
“So much fun, amazing instructors!”
We will look forward to continuing Oregon OSA for as long as we can. Our future efforts are aimed at polishing our curriculum that is using Oncology/Cancer as well as Oncofertility as major themes, training area high school teachers in using this curriculum, and basically disseminating these classes and labs (including those in NUBIO) throughout the Portland area.
Congratulations to all current and future OSA alumni !