March 2009

Welcome to Pathways!
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Our goal is to serve as a resource for you as you navigate the pathway through school and, ultimately, to a health career. Each month, you'll receive career and college planning tips, advice and resources to help you make your health career dreams a reality.

News from NC-HCAP...

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NC-HCAP now has a home on Facebook. Stay connected to NC-HCAP and all the resources and activities we offer to help you make your health career dreams a reality.
In This Issue
Motivational Minute
Health Careers 101
Question of the Month
Join our Mailing List!
The North Carolina Health Careers Access Program (NC-HCAP) is located at UNC-Chapel Hill. Additional campus-based centers are located at Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Established in 1971 by Dr. Cecil G. Sheps, we work to increase the number of underrepresented minorities or economically and/or educationally disadvantaged students who are educated, trained and employed in the health professions.

For more than 35 years, we have provided thousands of students with a variety of programs and activities to raise their awareness of opportunities available within the health professions and to increase their competitiveness as a health professional school applicant.

We're always here to assist you. Simply contact us at:

(919) 966-2264
[email protected]
Motivational Minute

How big are your dreams? When you envision your future, what comes to mind? And how do you plan to make your dreams a reality? Are you stuck in the rut of doing just enough to get by, or are you utilizing your full potential to reach success?

If you're not doing all you can, then Dr. Ben Carson, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, says to expand your mind! When you do, you too can go from "worst student" status to that of a successful professional.

Dr. Carson grew up in the inner city of Detroit in the 1950s and is the first to admit that "school was a rock-bottom priority." In the fifth grade, he held the title of "worst student," but Sonya, his single mother, knew he had greater potential. She limited television watching to three shows per week and required both of her sons to read two books each week and report on what they learned.

Carson rose from the bottom of his class in the fifth grade to the top of his class in the seventh grade -- and to one of America's most respected doctors. A 1973 Yale University graduate, Carson went on to earn his M.D. degree from the University of Michigan School of Medicine in 1977. He returned to Johns Hopkins Hospital, the site of his surgical residency, in 1984 and soon became director of pediatric neurosurgery there -- the youngest in the country, at age 33. In 1986, Carson became the first neurosurgeon to perform surgery on a twin while both infants were still in the womb. And in 1987, he was catapulted into the international spotlight with the first-ever successful separation of Siamese twins from Germany.

If thinking BIG worked for him, could it work for you too?

THINK BIG is Dr. Carsons' philosophy which promotes academic excellence and a commitment to assisting others.

T - talent and time: recognize them as gifts
H - hope for good things and be honest
I - insight from people and good books
N - be nice to all people
K - knowledge: recognize it as the key to living

B - books: read them actively
I - in-depth learning skills: develop them
G - God: everyone has his own beliefs. When you think big, what does 'G' stand for in your life?

"I am convinced that knowledge is power - to overcome the past; to change our own situations; to fight new obstacles; to make better decisions."
- Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr.
Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery
Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center
Professor of Neurological Surgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery and Pediatrics
Johns Hopkins Hospital

Dr. Carson was NC-HCAP's Inspirational Speakers in Science (ISIS) lecturer in 1995.

To learn more about Dr. Carson, visit his Web site or watch an excerpt of the Ben Carson story on YouTube.

Source: NC-HCAP Access newsletter, Spring 1995; the official Web site of Dr. Ben Carson.
Health Careers 101
Have your ever heard of an epidemic? Perhaps a flu epidemic? Have you ever wondered how an epidemic might be controlled? Or even prevented? Do you have any idea who would do that line of work?

An epidemiologist, of course

Epidemiology and Epidemiologists
Epidemics usually affect a lot of people at one time or in one place. So, a basic definition of epidemiology is the study of disease in populations.
Epidemiologists are the scientists who identify a disease and track it as it moves through a population. They research its cause and frequency in order to prevent it from spreading to other people or animals.

Salary: $53,000 or more
Education: You will need at least a bachelor's degree in the health sciences, math, biological science or behavioral science followed by a master's or doctorate degree through a school of public health.

Hot Link:
Society for Epidemiologic Research

Source: NC-HCAP Health Careers Information & Enrichment Workshop manual
Question of the Month
Do you have a college or career planning question you'd like to ask? If so, email Mrs. Rivera at [email protected] Each month, at least one question will be answered right here in Pathways.

Question: I'm a high school student who wants to go into some sort of health career, but I'm not sure which one. My teacher mentioned that a lot of students don't think about public health. Can you tell me some of the things you can do in that area? 
Anonymous student,

I'm glad you asked this question. And your teacher is right. Most students immediately think of medicine, nursing, dentistry, or the like, but few consider public health when they're your age. We've already talked about epidemiologists in this newsletter, but there are other exciting opportunities in the field of public health as well. Here are just a few options you might want to explore:

Biostatistician: works with medical data to help solve health problems (
Environmental health specialist: helps get rid of hazards in the environment that affect health (
Health educator: teaches people about health and safety (
International health specialist: works to improve health in developing countries (

Additionally, you might want to consider researching careers in health science administration, environmental health, nutrition, public health practice/program management, and in the biomedical laboratory.

Source: NC-HCAP Health Careers Information & Enrichment Workshop manual
College Planning and Preparation
Find information on college careers & majors, the college application process, and financial aid at
Enrichment Programs
For information about additional health professions enrichment programs, activities, and summer camps in your local area, contact the NC Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) in your area.

Financial Aid
For information to help you plan, apply, and pay for college, contact The College Foundation of North Carolina.

Scholarships are available based on many different criteria: financial need, merit, and chosen college major. Begin your search today at Fastweb.

Health Careers
Explore various health careers, read about students and professionals in the health field, and even locate information on current health-related issues and topics at and
  Meet Mrs. Rivera
As the pre-college coordinator, Mrs. Koyah Rivera is responsible for planning, developing and implementing pre-college outreach initiatives across North Carolina.

Before joining NC-HCAP, Ms. Rivera was employed as a college admissions counselor at Shaw University in Raleigh. She has served as a Language Arts teacher for Wake County Public Schools and TV news producer/writer at two NBC TV stations. She is also the founder/executive director/TV host of Beyond Gifted, Inc., a non-profit organization which produces the "Beyond Gifted" television program to assist K-12 students in developing post-secondary plans to reach school and life success. She received dual B.A. degrees in communications and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.