STEM, arizona scitech, medicine, careers


Students Explore Careers Related to Medicine

By Claire LaBeaux

The Chief Science Officers (CSO) program, brought to students by Arizona’s Sci-Tech Institute, gives students a place to connect with others who love science, technology, engineering, and math. Beyond that STEM interest, students in the program develop skills as community leaders, learning about possible career fields and engaging others in STEM-connected activities.

With Arizona Parenting focusing on medicine this month, I wanted to know how the CSOs are learning about medical careers and what aspects of the medical field interest them. Here is a snapshot of their perspectives.

CSO Anandi S. is 16 years old and attends school within Chandler Unified School District. Anandi’s interest was sparked during a science lab most of us recall from our days in school. She says “My interest in science and technology evolved from participating in a lot of STEM related activities during middle and high school. The main highlight out of all the activities I had done was the dissection of a shark. Of course, it was quite weird to cut it open, but what I enjoyed the most was that I was able to explore the different organs. This along with the nuances of cell cycle for my AP Biology course during my sophomore year had enhanced my knowledge and enthusiasm to know and learn more about the field of medicine.”

Participating in STEM classes and activities has now inspired a major goal for her in the future. “I personally find medicine as a fascinating field where science and technology collide with each other to create a positive impact in patients’ lives. My interest further developed when I had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Mark Evers, an oncologist, who talked about his interests for oncology and medicine. Like many people can relate to, the St. Jude Hospital’s advertisement had a significant impact on the development of my interest in oncology. Although it sounds dumb, I am the kid who wants to discover the cure to Cancer. It doesn’t hurt to dream, rather it motivates you to take an extra step to discover the unknown” she tells me.

CSO Valentina L. attends BASIS Goodyear and is currently studying abroad in Querétaro, Mexico. Valentina is 15 years old and is interested in a different side of medicine. She says the following:

“For as long as I can remember, I have questioned my surroundings and have enjoyed tinkering with all sorts of things – particularly circuits. Initially, I hadn’t foreseen any uses or applications to this that could contribute to the greater good… that is until I joined the Chief Science Officer Program [in] middle school. The program has opened many doors for me, even to this day as I find myself in my fifth year as a member! Through meaningful experiences and interactions with professionals, I was able to pinpoint my passion to a specific field: biomedical engineering. It is one of the many career pathways situated at the intersection between medicine and technology, which is becoming a thriving and growing industry. I’ve had the chance to witness this myself through all of the opportunities provided by the CSO Program and its partnership with Arizona State University. I joined a research cohort that was started up under the mentorship of ASU professor Dr. Sidney Hecht so that we could not only learn about the many disciplines and concepts of biochemistry, but so that we many also learn about the latest innovations. I also joined what is known as the BioSense Network from the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, which has enabled me to learn about biotechnology with a computational microscope that has the ability to conduct molecular simulations. I am looking forward to the opportunities that are to come as I continue my journey as an aspiring woman in STEM.”

Mica is a first year CSO and is just beginning to explore her interest in medicine. Exposure to a STEM professional from Actuated Medical at a recent CSO event was eye-opening for her.

Mica says, “Before CSO Saturday, I was curious about the advancement of medicine. I was never interested in being a doctor [and] I was determined to be a vet when I was a young child. I do not yet know what I would like to be, but our CSO Saturday that focused on medicine showed me some great career choices.” Mica notes, “I find it amazing that Actuated Medical has engineered many great devices. For example, they created devices that clear clogged feeding tubes, help with bone biopsies, and spinal anesthesia. I was surprised to learn that almost 137,000 people die of a stroke per year. Actuated Medical is working on a device that can clear the blood clot without harming the brain, saving lives of stroke victims every day. They’re also trying to control the prosthetic movement and restore mobility in stroke patients. Electrodes are inserted into the brain using high force air, causing the blood clot to clear. Actuated Medical applies science and entrepreneurship to their new technology. One of their devices, the Tube Clear, unclogs feeding tubes saving money and time while keeping the patient comfortable.”

Maureen L. Mulvihill, President & CEO of Actuated Medical, Inc was a guest speaker at the CSO Saturday that Mica is referring to and what she had to say to the CSO’s really inspired Mica. “Listening to Maureen’s path to success showed me a great career path to take into consideration,” Mica says, “I believe that Actuated Medical has shown me that adding motion to medicine is the future of medicine. The new technology used at their facility will save many lives. Not only has Actuated Medical brought new technology to our hospitals, but they are a great model of applying STEM principles and innovation.”

Students participating in the Chief Science Officers program from around the world joined that medical-themed CSO Saturday Zoom event. In fact, many students were inspired to consider medical and engineering fields as a result. Maureen L. Mulvihill, Ph.D., the speaker from Actuated Medical, was awarded the 2022 International Chief Science Officer Mentor of the Year award. She was chosen from community leaders and professionals who serve as role models for Chief Science Officers in grades 6-12 that want to pursue STEM careers. Not only did she interact with students worldwide during that event, but she also led several high school students during a CSO Shadow Day opportunity where students learned about medical technology and related careers.

The CSO program provides chances for youth to interact with STEM professionals, in the medical field and many others, so that they can picture their possible futures and decide what paths to pursue. Whether your children dream of curing cancer, are interested in biochemistry, are considering becoming a vet or a doctor, or are simply curious about all the options the world has to offer, encourage them to explore their interests! If your student would like to make friends around the world who also love STEM and who want to be leaders in their community, consider the CSO program as a perfect place to make those connections. It may just be the inspiration for Arizona’s next Top Doc.


Submitted by Claire LaBeaux, Communications Advisor for the Chief Science Officers International, a program of the SciTech Institute. LaBeaux shares the benefits and impacts of the CSO program with leaders and innovators around the world. She also coaches student Chief Science Officers on engaging peers to pursue STEM education, as well as communicating with education administrators and regional and national policymakers.