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DENMARK -- Twenty-one students from across South Carolina were invited to participate in the South Carolina AHEC Summer Careers Academy at the Medical University of South Carolina June 2-7.

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Denmark Technical College sophomore Mary Forrest was among the select group identified through a competitive application process facilitated by the MUSC College of Medicine. Paula Jones, MBA, Director of the South Carolina AHEC Health Careers Program, described Forest as an “enthusiastic student who displayed a passion for medicine”.

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A resident of Gainsville, Georgia, Forrest is a Denmark Tech honor student with aspirations of becoming a physician. Her summer academy experience included clinical and didactic sessions that provided detailed insight into the medical student experience, workshops that increased awareness of the application and admissions process, and service learning that addressed the public health issue of mental health. Forrest completed the week-long immersion experience having earned a certification in Mental Health First Aid, a national certification administered by Mental Health America and facilitated by Mental Health America of South Carolina.

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As a member of a project team, Miss Forrest was challenged to collaborate in the creation of an anti-stigma project. The intent of the project was to jump-start conversations within a targeted community that helped to change attitudes and perceptions surrounding mental health and that sought to reduce prejudices towards individuals who experience mental illness. Projects were presented to a team of judges comprised of practicing health professionals and MUSC faculty. Forrest and her team walked away with a first-place win for their group presentation, “Breaking the Silence: A Suicide Prevention Initiative,” designed to target the teen population.

Chris Powers, MSM, Manager of Recruitment and Diversity Education with the MUSC College of Medicine, noted Forrest’s “strong interest and abilities that will support her preparation and pursuit of a career in medicine”.

When asked to name the favorite part of her Summer Academy experience, “The week was great!” Forrest said. “Having the opportunity to meet with Dr. (Michael) de Arellano, Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Diversity in the College of Medicine, and members of his team showed me how to best prepare and be competitive in the admissions process. I appreciate the faculty and staff of Denmark Tech who made me aware of the AHEC opportunity, helped me to successfully apply for the Summer Academy and equipped me with the foundation that allowed me to be academically competitive with students who attend major colleges and universities”.

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Forrest will return to Denmark Technical College to complete her final semester of study prior to a December 2019 graduation. She is currently exploring her options for transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor of science degree prior to applying for medical school.

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