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High School

High-quality STEM and health care curriculum, combined with hands-on learning and the support of dedicated instructors and mentors, inspires high schoolers' confidence, teaches them skills for entering the workforce and helps them prepare for higher education and fulfilling careers.

“I’ve always wanted to go into the medical field and one day be a doctor, but that seemed like such a far-away reality. But with the college preparation work I’ve done in this internship and my involvement in the highly sophisticated hospital setting, I see myself more as a capable, talented individual who will head off to college soon and make this dream a reality sooner than I realize.”

Rush University Medical Center MedSTEM Pathways intern, Summer 2019

MedSTEM Programs

Hands on, workplace-based experience

These intensive academic enrichment programs introduce teens to a variety of STEM and health care careers and strengthen their academic skills. Hands-on learning builds communication, teamwork, critical thinking, leadership and problem-solving abilities; students can also earn industry-recognized credentials in areas such as CPR first aid/basic lifesaving, phlebotomy and ECG Tech.

MedSTEM Explorers is a paid enrichment program for rising high school sophomores and juniors. During one six-week summer session, students attend classes at Rush University Medical Center to explore careers and research real-world issues that affect their Chicago communities.

MedSTEM Pathways is a paid internship program for rising high school juniors and seniors and recent graduates. During the one six-week summer session, students will engage in hands-on learning to strengthen communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. In addition to skills development for higher education and career, students will have the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials.

REACH FOR IT aims to increase the number of low- to moderate-income Black and Latinx youth who are meeting key academic and workforce readiness benchmarks to advance to the next level of STEM education and/or enter the workforce with the skills, experience, and networking connections to succeed in IT careers. This program hopes to diversify the healthcare and IT sector and provide more Black and Latinx youth in Chicago with access to family-sustaining careers.

Learn more about our upcoming cohort and how to apply!

Bridges Mentoring

Bridge to Nursing: The Bridge to Nursing Program is for high school students interested in a career in nursing. Mentoring, career exploration and academic supports will be made available to student participants. Gain the opportunity to learn about nursing careers from current nursing students and practicing nurses! 

Bridge to Medicine: The Bridge to Medicine Program is for high school students interested in a career in medicine. Mentoring, career exploration and academic supports will be made available to student participants. Gain the opportunity to learn about medical careers from current medical students and practicing doctors!

Bridge to Allied Health : The Bridge to Allied Health Program is for high school students interested in careers in allied health. Mentoring, career exploration and academic supports will be made available to student participants. Gain the opportunity to learn about careers from current allied health students and practicing professionals!

Other Citywide Programs

Explore other citywide career pathway programs in STEM and healthcare-related fields.

Career Launch Chicago

Career Launch Chicago – In partnership with City Colleges of Chicago and Chicago Public Schools (new pilot).

Through a collaborative initiative between Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, and the City of Chicago, CLC Youth Apprenticeships offer paid work-based learning opportunities for CPS students that will connect them to college pathways and careers in Information Technology, Advanced Manufacturing, and Healthcare.

Note: Interested students must be Chicago Public Schools CTE students and would start application via their respective high school.


Who: High school students interested in careers in scientific research or medicine

What: Full-time immersion in a cancer research laboratory, individualized mentoring, career and skill-building workshops, faculty lecture series, student research symposium, and group social events

When: 8 weeks, summer

Contact: Megan Mekinda, PhD,
[email protected]


A STEM Ed and maker/hackerspace for middle and high school students and individuals in the Woodlawn community. The program is designed to teach youth how to build websites, make video games, build robots, repair computers, and more! They build long-term relationships with kids working on hands-on projects to build excitement about STEM and involve them in problem-solving. A strong background in tech is not necessary for volunteers, and they receive training upon signing up. Volunteers are also encouraged to bring their own interests and experiences to engage youth at the center. The @rtifice center is currently open Tuesday and Thursday from 4 PM to 6 PM, but can open other days depending on volunteer interest.

Contact person:
William Carpenter, @rtifice Center Coordinator
[email protected]

Chicago EYES on Cancer

Chicago EYES on Cancer is a cancer research training program for high school and college students interested in careers in biomedicine. The program also welcomes secondary science educators. For two consecutive summers, participants work full-time in the laboratories of established cancer researchers at the University. Rigorous research training is complemented with a cancer-based lecture series, skill-building workshops, and a network of faculty and peer mentors dedicated to participants’ success. The program culminates in a research symposium to showcase participants’ work across basic, translational, clinical, and population-based areas of cancer research.

Contact Person:
Megan Mekinda, PhD
[email protected]

Collegiate Scholars Program

Founded in 2003 and operated through the University’s Office of Civic Engagement, the Collegiate Scholars Program (CSP) is designed to encourage the highest-achieving and underrepresented Chicago Public Schools students to apply to and succeed at top colleges.

Approximately 150 students participate in the program each year, with approximately 50 new students accepted as a cohort annually. Students from across the city apply in the spring of their freshmen year of high school and participate until their high school graduation, forming a strong network of high-achieving Chicago Public Schools students. Collegiate Scholars are selected based on academic strength, leadership, and the ability to overcome obstacles, as described in their application essays. Following an orientation weekend in residence on the UChicago campus, they enroll in humanities, social sciences, and STEM courses during the summer. Taught by University faculty and advanced graduate students, these courses also emphasize the analytic, writing, and communication skills required in a top-tier academic environment.

During the academic year, Collegiate Scholars engage in a series of college preparatory workshops and courses outside of their high school curriculum that both expand student skills and prepare them for rigorous, engaged, student experiences at highly selective colleges and universities. Students choose between taking university courses or participating in a University-supported internship or research opportunity, e.g., at UChicago Medicine or the Institute of Politics. Additional activities include intensive guidance on college readiness including the college and financial aid application process, and programming on financial education and cultural awareness.

Contact Person:
Abel Ochoa
[email protected]

TEACH Research

Training Early Achievers for Careers in Health (TEACH) Research aims to prepare and inspire talented Chicago Public School high school students to pursue careers in health-related research by providing exposure to a realistic career experience and a multi-tiered structure of mentors during its summer programming. Students are recruited as rising sophomores from the University of Chicago Collegiate Scholars Program, a three-year enrichment program for high-achieving and talented Chicago Public School students.

Contact Information:
[email protected]

RAPID Illinois

RAPID Illinois 

Resources And Programs for Increasing Diversity in Health Professions

This inventory contains programs for all education levels. Choose from an inventory to see programs accepting participants with each level of education and training.

This inventory is made possible through generous support from the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute.

Contact Person:

Jabari Taylor, MPH

[email protected]