SALINAS — Aside from a short trip to Seattle and college orientation at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Gonzales High grad Adilenne Ramirez spent over a month of her summer vacation broadening her horizons by participating in the Summer Health Institute (SHI) at the Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System (SVMHS) in Salinas.
Ramirez, the 18-year-old daughter of Miguel and Alejandra Ramirez of Gonzales, enjoyed the five-week program where she learned from clinical and non-clinical staff.
“I applied for the Summer Health Institute because this summer I was going to be a high school graduate, on my way to Cal Poly as an agriculture major,” Ramirez said. “I was feeling uncertain about my major because studying biology seems like a more traditional thing to do when aspiring to attend medical school. I started overthinking. Was medicine really for me? I needed to find out if working in the clinical setting was something I would like to do. Participating in SHI before leaving for college seemed like the perfect opportunity to make an informed decision for my future.”
She added, “So, I compiled my application materials, asked for letters of recommendation and submitted everything.”
The five-week program was created to introduce students to health careers through class presentations, job shadowing and group research projects. The program’s goal is it to inspire students to pursue health careers with a clearly defined plan.
SHI has been in existence since 2003 and SVMHS runs the program with the help of Hartnell College, the Central Coast Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice, Mission Trails ROP, the Stanford School of Medicine, the University of California at Santa Cruz and NASA Ames Research.
A well-rounded student, Ramirez took extra classes at Hartnell Jr. College while attending Gonzales High, was president of the Interact Class, participated and trained in the Sports Medicine Program and played three seasons of girls tennis while maintaining a 4.3 GPA.
Sports Medicine Program teacher Fidencio Cuevas encouraged Ramirez to apply for the SHI program and knew that she would benefit from attending and would learn a lot about the medical field.
“Adilenne was a fantastic representative of Gonzales for the SVMHS Summer Health Institute and is an excellent role model for our Gonzales youth,” Cuevas said. “She is a great example of the high-achieving students we have coming out of Gonzales High School and has an extremely bright future ahead of her at Cal Poly.”
Ramirez liked the exposure to the medical careers in a hospital setting, the team-bonding exercises, the SVMHS staff presenters and working on case studies.
“I worked on a cardiac case study and my advocacy project was on heart health,” she said. “My group brought the Healthy Hearts Advocacy Project to Gonzales. We shared heart-healthy lifestyle behaviors with children from the Gonzales Day Camp. Each day was slightly different. My day began at 8:30 a.m. and ended at 3:30. We worked with Hartnell nursing students, participated in the Blue Zones Project kickoff and visited Stanford Medical School’s Anatomy class.
“Wearing my scrubs, lab coat and my SVMHS badge every day was awesome, I felt official,” Ramirez added. “I feel more confident saying that healthcare is something I want to pursue. I started off wanting to be a pediatrician, but that has changed as I learned about other departments. As of today, I would like to go into cardiology, diagnostic imaging or clinical research. My aunt, Ana, is in medical school and she also inspired me to look into medicine.”
Ramirez was the first-ever Gonzales High School student to attend the Summer Health Institute and was the only South County participant, with most of the other students from the Salinas area and the Monterey Peninsula.
“Being a SHI student is huge,” she said. “There are a lot of qualified students in the area and only 25 openings. Thanks to Mr. Cuevas for referring me to SHI and thanks to SVMHS for giving me the experience of a lifetime. I proudly represented Gonzales and was the only one from South County in the program. I hope that many more Gonzales High students apply and participate in SHI in the future.”