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Harvard professor, doctor speaks to PSJA ISD middle school students about careers in STEM fields


ALAMO – More than a hundred 8th grade students from Audie Murphy Middle School in Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA ISD) recently got to hear from Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Dr. Seth Rakoff-Nahoum, MD. PhD regarding careers in human health and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. 


The students heard from the guest speaker virtually as part of efforts to expose them to concepts they will be learning as they transition to high school this fall, according to Audie Murphy Middle School Science Teacher Krista Cortez.  


“We hoped to demonstrate to students an example of a path their own lives can follow, so long as they continue to challenge themselves to achieve excellence for whichever field they wish to pursue,” said Cortez who graduated from PSJA Early College High School in 2014 and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Columbia University in May 2018. “By interacting with a physician-scientist of Dr. Rakoff-Nahoum's caliber and learning of his upbringing and winding path to becoming a pediatrician with Boston Children's Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, we wanted students to realize that their aspirations are achievable.” 


In addition to hearing from Dr. Rakoff-Nahoum, students had the opportunity to interact virtually by asking questions and hearing feedback from him on some of their recently completed projects.  


“We also hope the conversations we had during the event-which focused on human health as it relates to the microbiome, probiotics, and the potential for diseases such as diabetes to be understood and treated through innovative methods-empowered students to think about their own health and that of their communities,” said Cortez. 


PSJA Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorge L. Arredondo appreciates Ms. Cortez enthusiasm to bring speakers of this caliber to her students. 


"Thank you for going above and beyond by connecting our students to university level experiences as early as their middle school years," said Dr. Arredondo.