A nationwide competition sponsored by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently channeled $7,000 to Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU). This sum is due to the efforts of second-year medical student Caroline Kaigh and her classmates Darshan Patel and Denise Garcia.
Kaigh and her counterparts will use the $7,000 - the competition's Grand Prize - to expand the Upward Bound Science on Saturdays program, for which they all serve as volunteer teachers who help non-English speaking students learn about professions in mathematics, engineering, technology, and science.
What helped her group win was likely the fact that they each already had a strong background in teaching high school. Before coming to CMSRU, Kaigh taught high school math in Jacksonville, Florida for two years.
But it didn’t start there. As a high school student, Kaigh tutored her peers in math and science; this continued into her college years. One summer off, Kaigh signed up to work as a counselor and was assigned to a community service educational program for homeless high school students. Little did she know her first day with the program would change her life. The teacher responsible for instructing the class never showed up. Armed with a vast amount of tutoring experience, Kaigh was tasked with stepping in and taking control. It was then that she realized she had a love for teaching.
Shortly after graduating from Haverford College in Pennsylvania, Kaigh decided she wanted to take her teaching to the next level. Having studied Public Health as an undergraduate, she lacked the credits required to follow a teaching career via the traditional route, but this didn’t stop her. As a solution, Kaigh joined the Teach for America program, an alternative route which helps train non-traditional students through extensive professional development. While training with Teach for America, she was assigned to Jacksonville. One of Kaigh’s proudest moments took place at that school. In a program called Marathon High, she trained 70 inexperienced students to finish a half marathon together. This is a milestone which will stick with her, and the students, forever.
Teaching wasn’t Kaigh’s number one career ambition as she grew up. Instead, she had big dreams of earning a Medical Doctorate, and when she opted for a career change her family offered a tremendous amount of support. Kaigh applied to several medical schools, but felt like CMSRU hit her at the core with its mission and emphasis on student wellness, and feels fortunate to be here today. In particular, CMSRU desires students who place a value on community service. What better place for Kaigh to fit in?
Nevertheless, Kaigh's life as a teacher didn’t end when she walked through the doors that first day as a medical student. Her teaching experience served well when she was seeking a service project to fulfill a curriculum requirement. Kaigh joined Upward Bound's Science on Saturdays and got to work teaching. This experience showed her that students in Camden lack the appropriate technologies and laboratory materials to truly work hands on with science. Fortunately, the award money from AAMC is substantial enough that Kaigh and her counterparts can introduce dissection supplies, cloning supplies, and other advanced equipment for students to use.
After finishing medical school, Kaigh hopes to work as an OB/GYN. It is important to Kaigh that she is able to follow her patients longitudinally, and she plans to stress the significance of women’s health. Growing up, Kaigh’s friends always told her that she would end up as an OB/GYN, but she never believed them.
Everything she was on her way towards in childhood found a way back to her, even when it seemed life was taking a different direction.