Duo participates in oncology program at UK’s Markey Cancer Center
The University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center in Lexington, Kentucky has expanded their successful oncology training program to include high school students.
Whitley County High School Junior Katelyn Nigro and Sophomore Spencer Shelton were selected to participate in the Appalachian Career Training in Oncology (ACTION) program. The program is funded through a grant from the National Cancer Institute.
While most students are unsure of their future, Katelyn and Spencer’s desire to pursue a health career was reinforced as they spent five weeks this summer working beside research mentors learning valuable information through cancer, ethics, and career workshops.
Katelyn had two grandparents succumb to small-cell lung cancer and knew she wanted to pursue a health-care career to make a difference. ACTION provided her an opportunity to jump-start her health care career that she may have not otherwise received. While at U.K., Katelyn worked with the lung and prostate cancer research division using a tumor suppressor. The process includes over-expressing the tumor and observing how it interacts with different cells. “It has been an eye-opening experience for me to be a part of this research. There is a lot of work and dedication that goes into cancer research, which is primarily done without a lot of patient interaction. I plan to attend medical school and explore the field of research since I have been fortunate enough to participate in this program,” Katleyn said.
Spencer was impressed when the ACTION Program Coordinator came to the high school and talked about the program and felt that the program shared his passion for wanting to help others. The lab he received training in was split into three categories; Total cancer care, Clinical trials, and Laboratory. “I worked on cell lines and saw how different chemical extracts and cell lines work together. The program was out-of-this-world. The mentors were very learner-oriented; everything they did was directed at helping me learn,” said Spencer.
Superintendent John Siler said, “I am extremely proud of Katelyn and Spencer for being selected to participate in the Applachian Career Training in Oncology. Being selected to take part in the University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Centers’ research program speaks volumes to the quality of students they both are.”
Katleyn and Spencer wrote essays as part of the entry process that depicted how cancer has affected them and their communities. Both essays will be published in a book. “I am 15 and I will be published author at 16 years old,” Spencer said.
Both students will continue their participation in the program for a 2-year period. They will return to U.K. once a month for further training and will organize an event relating to cancer in their communities. Considering the many health careers available, Katelyn and Spencer have unending possibilities because of this experience.