(Photo courtesy High Point University)

Drs. Zoe and Michael Draelos have always loved science and have enjoyed successful careers in research and gastroenterology, respectively. When they considered how they wanted share this passion with a younger generation of burgeoning scientists and give back to the local community, they came to the High Point Community Foundation.

The Draeloses knew what they wanted to offer—an intensive university level experience for deserving high school students to work in the lab with research scientists—but they weren’t sure how to get it started. They knew it would take a team effort to fund such a program, provide the experience and find the most promising high school students to take advantage of the opportunity.

The Foundation was a good choice.

The Draelos Science Scholars Program is born

Through the Foundation, the doctors were encouraged to establish a donor advised fund to provide the ideal vehicle for underwriting what would become the Draelos Science Scholars program. And it was through the Foundation’s network and board that the program found a partner in High Point University.

Draelos Science Scholars Dr Blacklodge

Dr. Meghan Blacklodge (Left) works with Margot Behrens. (Photo: Fearghal O’Reilly)

The first Draelos Science Scholars program launched this summer and concluded July 31 with seven students from High Point Central High School. Each student was paired with a mentor—a university scientist—to conduct laboratory research.

“Awesome experience”

Student Margot Behrens helped research organic chemistry and study how bacteria becomes resistant to antibiotics, by growing bio films. She was thrilled.

“This is the best decision I ever made,” said Behrens. “It was an awesome experience.

Dr. Meghan Blacklodge was equally impressed, as Behrens mentor.

“DSP has been a wonderful experience for students and faculty alike,” said Blacklodge. “Margot has been wonderful and has fully engaged with the program. I want to take her to a regional meeting this fall to discuss our research.”

Dr. Keir Fogarty helps Emma Welter with lasers.

Dr. Keir Fogarty helps Emma Welter with lasers. (Photo: Fearghal O’Reilly)

Emma Welter, focusing on chemistry and biology, spent time in the lab constructing a Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) alignment microscope to help prepare for her upcoming collegiate experience.

“I’ve really enjoyed all the research I have done with Dr. Fogarty,” said Welter. “I will be using this to help apply to college”

“Awesome,” is how Dr. Keir Fogarty sums up the experience. “The High School students came in with open minds. All students got involved, started learning and figuring things out. All of them had a great work ethic and we all had a great experience.”

Draelos Science Scholars Dr. Cooke

Kayla West at the microscope is assisted by Dr. Sandra Cooke. (Photo: Fearghal O’Reilly)

“I’ll definitely be using this experience on my college applications and it’s proved to me how much I love science,” said student Kayla West. “It was a lot of fun and I will be recommending this to all my friends when I go back to school at the end of the summer.”

West was paired with biologist Dr. Sandra Cooke.

“Kayla was a great help and showed great insight with the project,” Said Dr. Cooke. “I’m very happy to be involved and this was a great experience for the students and the faculty. The High Point Central students’ enthusiasm is on par with university students.”

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Dr. Veronica Segarra (left) helps Amber Khawaja conduct an experiment. (Photo: Fearghal O’Reilly)

Student Ambar Khawaja wants to continue her pursuit of a career in science, hopefully, at Chapel Hill.

“Great experience!” said Khawaja. “The program will certainly help me in my goals. My mentor, Dr. Segarra, has helped me do much more research.”

Dr. Veronica Segarra had the pleasure of mentoring Khawaja and, like her colleagues, found the Draelos Science Scholars program worthwhile for everyone involved.

“It was great to work with local students and I have been very impressed with Ambar,” said Segarra. “It is good to know that in the local community there are very capable and enthusiastic students. I hope we continue and develop this collaboration with local schools in the future.”

The enthusiasm that High Point University faculty shares with the young scholars is testament to the original vision of Drs. Zoe and Michael Draelos, who wanted to share their love of science and research. Thanks to the entire team, High Point has a unique new community-based science program to augment the public school curriculum.

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Margot Behrens experiments. (Photo: Fearghal O’Reilly)