BALTIMORE (WJZ) — How do you get young people interested in a career in science or medicine when it hasn’t been a part of their world?
For a couple of years, WJZ has been following a program aimed at answering that question. It’s called CURE and it was set up by the University of Maryland Baltimore to serve the children of it’s West Baltimore community.
Currently, there are 83 young scholars in CURE — one of them is the first in his family to consider a career in science.
Mali Baysay was a sixth grader at Southwest Baltimore Charter when we first met him joining CURE.
For over a year now, he has been spending 12 hours every week outside of school in CURE labs and workshops.
A year later, Baysay and five other scholars are at the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health (CVD) Malaria Research Lab at the University of Maryland School of Medicine learning “pipetting.”
Dominique Earland is one of Baysay’s mentors. She’s also a post-graduate malaria researcher. Earland went through a program in Philadelphia just like ‘cure’.
“It’s amazing that I’m finally able to give back in some way,” she said.
Earland studies blood samples sent from Malawi to see if they test positive for malaria.
“These people are infected most likely, but that’s where coding comes in,” she said.
Coding is Baysay’s favorite activity particularly in the robotics lab.
“All of this studying you’re doing, what would you like to be when you grow up?” WJZ’s Denise Koch asked.
“I want to be a forensic scientist for like the police force, like if there’s a crime,’ Baysay said.
“Did you always want to do that?” Koch asked.
“Not really,” he said, “always wanted to play sports.”
Each of the 83 CURE scholars has five mentors, generally grad students, who guide them through anatomy, chemistry, engineering, robotics. and a social worker monitors any challenges that may come up at home.
But, the real key to CURE’s success, Earland believes, is the one-on-one.
“I think it’s just having someone to talk to in this program is amazing,” she added.
Judging by the concentration of this group, she may be right.
“We really do have the opportunity to change the trajectory of our students’ lives and make them feel they can be successful in these STEM fields,” Earland said.
CURE has students from three West Baltimore schools. The teachers and mentors involved plan follow the scholars through high school, college and whatever graduate studies they persue.
Learn more about the program on the CURE’s website.