A few months ago, 16-year-old Peninsula High School soon-to-be junior Hailie Devers visited the Key Peninsula Lions Club seeking assistance to fulfill her ambition to serve as a delegate at the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in Lowell, Massachusetts, June 26 to 27.
It is a congress for high school students interested in going into the medical field.
“I first heard about the Congress when I opened up a letter sometime in January saying that I had been selected,” Hailie said. “Being selected was only the first part. Besides the tuition we had to pay, there was also travel and lodging expenses.”
So for the next few months, Hailie and her mother reached out to different family members through a GoFundMe on Facebook and sending letters to multiple community groups including the KP Lions, the Gig Harbor Elks, and more. Not only were there money requirements, but Hailie also had to have a confirmed minimum G.P.A of 3.5.
As the date got closer, she received emails from the congress about an award she would get from the teacher who nominated her after she attended.
“At the time, I had no clue how I got nominated, so for a couple days I went around my school asking all my teachers, even some that I’d had the previous year,” Hailie said.
She either got ‘I haven’t heard of the congress,’ or ‘No, I didn’t nominate you.’ Eventually, she called and learned that on a standardized test she put that she was interested in going into the medical field and had the grades to get in.
KP Lions and others were proud to assist Hailie, who noted that she had help from Laureate Gamma Eta, “They were the first organization to help me,” she said.
Hailie, her mother and grandmother boarded a plane to Washington D.C. then took another to Boston. They arrived June 24, a day before the Congress. The first day of the Congress started at 4 p.m. and went until 11 p.m. The last two days started at 10 a.m. and went until 11 p.m.
“During the Congress, we listened and took notes on different speakers. It’s not as boring as it sounds,” said Hailie. “All the speakers made jokes, and after every couple of speakers we’d have a break. We could send questions to the speakers through Twitter and post pictures using Snapchat. There were speakers from all different areas of the medical field, including young prodigies, multiple Nobel Prize winners, doctors, and three patients of astounding feats of medicine.”
During the two-hour lunch and dinner break, Hailie could visit and talk to the different speakers.
At the end of the third day, there was a dance.
“It was a great opportunity to hang out with all the people who came and have some fun,” Hailie said.
“All in all, it was a great experience,” she added. “I was given the chance to hear from many different people and meet students my age with the same aspirations from all over the country. We were given amazing advice from all the speakers, including an ‘easy’ nine-step plan to win a Nobel Prize. I came back more inspired and determined than ever before to make my dreams come true.”
Hailie plans to become a veterinarian for large animals such as horses, cows, sheep and other farm animals. To get there, she first plans on attending Washington State University and majoring in zoology. After four years, she wants to attend the Veterinary School on the Pullman campus.
I, for one, am confident you will do just that, Hailie. All the best!
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.