Kenard Johnson, center, and fellow participants in Camp PUSH observe ECU second year dental student Ryan Wilson while touring the ECU School of Dental Medicine facility. The Camp PUSH program aims to introduce middle and high school students to health- and science-related career opportunities. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Camp PUSH exposes students to careers in health and science

June 26, 2014

By Grace Haskin
ECU News Services

Twenty-five middle and high school students from Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton and Wilson counties took a field trip to East Carolina University on June 18 as part of their week-long math and science camp.

The seventh through 12th grade students enrolled in Camp PUSH (Preparing Underserved Students in Health and Science) learned about health care career opportunities by touring and discussing projects and services provided by ECU. The multidisciplinary tour included the Brody School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine, where they interacted with ECU dental students.

Camp PUSH, provided by Area L AHEC in Rocky Mount, is for minority students with an interest in health and science who may be educationally or economically disadvantaged.
Lamont Lowery, director of admissions at the School of Dental Medicine, spoke with Camp PUSH participants about opportunities at ECU for careers in dental medicine.

The goal of the camp is to promote science, technology, engineering, math and literacy to improve academic skills. Professional development activities include communications, teamwork and personal and social health. Students live for a week on the campus of N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount.

Deborah Woodard, assistant for administrative activities at Area L AHEC, said that field trips like this are “better than just sitting in a classroom. Students want to see what people do in their careers,” she said. “So this is really good for them.”

Tamar Wester, a 10th grade student from Rocky Mount, became interested in dentistry after she attended a health awareness course held by Area L AHEC. “I’m interested in orthodontics because I used to have braces. I think I would like to help people with that,” said Wester. “Having a pretty smile makes you feel good.”

Wester said she enjoyed touring the dental school and would like to go to ECU after she graduates from high school.

Lamont Lowery, director of admissions at the School of Dental Medicine, said the campers were “very receptive.” “Anytime we get to expose kids to (health professions) is an excellent opportunity and one that we should take advantage of,” he said.

Area L AHEC, part of the state Area Health Education Center program, is a non-profit health education foundation, serving Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton and Wilson counties by providing educational programs and services to health practitioners and students.


Middle school and high school students from Camp PUSH listen intently during a field trip they took to ECU to learn about health and science career opportunities.