In late June, students from all around the country came together for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Boston, MA. Among those attending was Chantai Chevannes, who recently finished her freshman year at Windham High School.
Chevannes was nominated to represent Maine at the congress by Dr. Connie Mariano, the Medical Director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists, which sponsors the congress. Chevannes said the nomination came as a big surprise.
“I got a letter in the mail,” she said. “It was totally out of the blue. I never knew I was actually good enough for something like that until now.”
A press release described the congress as an honors-only program for high school students interested in becoming physicians or going into medical research fields. Its purpose is to honor, inspire, motivate and direct these students to stay true to their dream, and also to provide a path, plan and resources after the event to help them reach their goal.
“This is a crucial time in America when we need more doctors and medical scientists who are even better prepared for a future that is changing exponentially,” said Richard Rossi, Executive Director, National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists. “Focused, bright and determined students like Chantai Chevannes are our future and she deserves all the mentoring and guidance we can give her.”
The rigorous schedule included hearing Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science winners speak, advice for participants from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school, inspiring stories told by patients considered to be modern medical miracles, and teen medical science prodigy speakers, opportunities for questions, and other group activities.
Chevannes said she enjoyed meeting people from all over the country, and was impressed by the speakers she heard. One of these, Dr. J. Craig Venter, was someone she had written a science report about in eighth grade.
“It was really cool to see him in person,” she said. Another portion of the Congress that made an impression on her was watching surgeons in action via video chat. This taught her how surgeons use teamwork to perform surgery, she said.
Chevannes said she has thought about becoming either a genetic engineer or a surgeon. She said she was a little surprised to be selected for the congress, she said that it felt great. “I’ve always known I wanted to do something in the medical field, but after this congress I really feel like I can,” she said.
On the final day of the Congress, participants took the Hippocratic Oath. “After taking it, it just felt like my future locked into place,” said Chevannes.