Observing brain surgery isn’t typically part of a high school curriculum, but with the Hopkins High School ProPEL (Professionals Providing Experience for Life) program one student got to sit in on four.
Grace Wallace-Jackson participated in the ProPEL program during her senior year at Hopkins, a class geared toward exploring a career field of interest. She chose a mentorship with a neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota.
“ProPEL pushed me to join an environment that I had never been a part of, in a professional setting, with people wildly more intelligent and successful than myself,” Grace said.
In fact, as part of her mentorship with Dr. Noam Harel, Grace found herself in a room with two surgeons, three neurologists, one anesthesiologist, one manufacturing representative, some nurses and researchers.
Through the experience, Grace challenged herself to think about her future and question the path she had laid out for herself. She is now considering a major in neuroscience in college and potentially pursuing medicine as a career.
The ProPEL program has been around for 11 years. Students who participate in the program spend the first half of the year learning about interviewing, resume writing, making speeches in front of people and more. The second half is spent with a mentor in their field of interest. Students end up spending about 80 hours with their mentor in total.
“I think it’s a great way for students to get exposed and be fully immersed in an industry that they are thinking of … which is so great for them to do now,” said Kirsten Slinde, Hopkins High School ProPEL instructor.
This year, a total of 31 students participated in the ProPEL program, gaining experience in a variety of career fields that piqued their interest.