These days, many students are starting organizations and educational programs to help other students, especially as the pandemic has had a huge impact on many students’ education and lives. I’ve found many of these programs extremely helpful and interesting, so here are some of my favorite organizations that have been started by the amazing and creative high school and college students!
1. Wave Learning Festival
I first signed up for this program when quarantine first started, and since then, I’ve attended many different classes about biology, medicine, and technology. Most of the classes are taught by college students attending prestigious universities such as Harvard University, Columbia University, and more, although some of the classes are taught by high school students. They feature seminars that are taught in “Waves” and “Tides,” with each Wave or Tide offering a variety of classes, from cultural influences in the media to college admissions and professional advice to complex topics in science. These courses are mostly targeted towards middle to high school students, although I find that the difficulty of a course varies depending on the instructor. One of my favorite courses is DNA and Genomes, which I really enjoyed because of the instructor’s enthusiasm for the subject and all the interesting information presented in class. Wave Learning Festival also hosts events in partnership with different organizations or professionals, such as the STEMEY x Wave Learning Festival STEMtober event, which featured speakers working in different STEM fields, and Wave x MEDLIFE event, which hosted speakers who had worked and led medical mission trips.
2. Virtual Pre-Medicine Shadowing
With the pandemic affecting many pre-med students’ opportunities to gain shadowing experience, a group of students and physicians from the University of Texas and other universities in Texas formed this organization, which provides opportunities to gain physician shadowing hours by hosting two-hour seminars every week on Tuesday at 7:00pm CST. These seminars include speakers that present information about medical specialities, medical school application processes, and real case studies. While the shadowing hours gained from attending these sessions may not be accepted by all colleges or medical schools, they can still be listed as healthcare experience. To give credit for students who attended the seminar, a short quiz is available after the session and students who pass the quiz will receive a certificate. However, if you aren’t available to attend the live Zoom session, Virtual Pre-Medicine Shadowing posts all of the recordings of previous sessions on their YouTube channel called Pre-Health Virtual Shadowing. Overall, Virtual Pre-Medicine Shadowing is the perfect opportunity for students interested in learning about the medical field!
3. Harvard Vision Global Health Conference
Started by students at Harvard College, Harvard Vision Global Health Conference is a conference for high school students featuring speakers, workshops, and competitions. I had the opportunity to attend the 2020 conference, which was held online through Zoom. Some of the speakers at the conference I attended include Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Alice Chen, the founding leader of Doctors for America, Dr. Norman Sharpless, the Director of the National Cancer Institute, and many other notable individuals. I also participated in the Case Study Competition, where we were given a prompt, which for this year’s case, was about mental health during COVID-19, and we would write a policy paper detailing how we would solve the issue. This opportunity was such an amazing experience for me, since I met so many like-minded students who were all interested in the medical field. The community of students was also extremely supportive, and despite only knowing each other for two days, the chat was filled with encouraging comments and conversations between students. I absolutely loved the conference, and I was raving about it for weeks after it, so this conference is truly a wonderful experience for students interested in the medical field!
4. Junior Medical Academy (JMA)
Started by Lily Yang and Reetam Ganguli, Junior Medical Academy (JMA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching students from all backgrounds about biological science. They teach a biology, medical biotechnology, and bio-innovation curriculum. However, since the courses are only available to areas that have a JMA Chapter, the recordings for the Medical Biotechnology course are posted on their YouTube channel, called Junior Medical Academy. In addition to teaching courses about biological science, JMA also has a mentorship, ambassadorship, and a COVID-19 relief program. The mentorship program pairs disadvantaged students with mentors that guide students through the standardized testing, academic, and college admissions process. The ambassadorship provides students with the opportunity to create their own chapter of JMA, and the COVID-19 relief program provides supplies to underprivileged areas. While some of the programs are a bit confusing about what exactly they do, I do think that the courses on their YouTube channel are extremely interesting and I support their mission to provide science education to students of all backgrounds.
5. Dear Asian Youth
2020 has been a hectic year for many of us, and as a teenager growing up during these times, the social issues that have come to light recently had a huge impact on me. However, Stephanie Hu, founder of Dear Asian Youth, wanted to start a platform to educate other Asian youth growing up during these difficult times, and since then, their Instagram page has amassed over 50,000 followers and they have over 130 chapters globally. Their Instagram page, @dearasianyouth, sheds light on important issues facing people of color, while on their website, they feature lots of poems and other literature written by Asian American youth, and I think this organization is inspirational for all of the teenagers growing up in these difficult times and struggling with their identity.
With the pandemic impacting the education of millions of students worldwide, many high school and college students are turning this setback into an opportunity to share their knowledge with other students. There are so many wonderful organizations started by original and innovative students, so these are just some of my favorites!
6. Content creators on Instagram and other social media sites
Despite what my parents say, Instagram and other social media sites really can be a helpful resource, especially as many students are sharing their tips for high school, college, scholarship advice, and job-seeking advice on social media. One of my favorite content creators is Brianna Bibel, who is a biochemistry PhD student who posts about topics in biochemistry on her Instagram (@thebumblingbiochemist), such as how X-ray crystallography and COVID-19 tests work. Another great content creator who posts professional advice especially for students is Angelica Song, who posts on Instagram (@urcollegesis), TikTok (@_angelicasong), and YouTube. She’s currently a senior at UC Berkeley, and she posts content about college, high school tips, college admissions, as well as professional advice and beauty. Another content creator is Nikhil Desai, who posts scholarship opportunities especially for students interested in medicine on Instagram (@nikhildesai.med) and TikTok (@nikhil.desai). He also has a Discord server for pre-med students, and it’s a great resource for students interested in pursuing medicine! There are many, many, more amazing content creators on social media sites, so while your parents may not agree, social media can definitely be used as an educational resource!