Leadership is a quality colleges look to instill in their students.
At least one Mitchell High School senior will have a head start in that department when he heads to college next year. Casey Miller recently returned from the National Student Leadership Conference at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and said the experience helped strengthen his desire to pursue a career in medicine after he graduates with the rest of the Class of 2020 in the spring.
Miller first became interested after his brother took part in the conference when it was in Washington, D.C.
“My brother did one of these trips when he was a junior, except he went to Washington, D.C., for his. I went through the same program, but we found the one at Harvard Medical School,” Miller said.
The annual conference invites a select group of middle and high school students to participate in interactive summer sessions, according to the organization website. Tens of thousands of students from around the world have taken part in the event since 1989 for the opportunity to share, discuss and debate issues that affect them, the nation and the world.
Miller said he and about 70 other students from around the world spent eight days being introduced to the world of medicine, including issues in ethics, domestic and international health care, healthcare administration and public health. The group also toured medical and science institutions.
“We got into small groups and got to know each other, and from their we did the leadership and speaking activities,” Miller said. “We also went to medical lectures, and those were pretty interesting. We saw the leadership techniques in those lectures. It was a good way to unify the program.”
There were also hands-on portions of the program. Students dissected a pig heart and a cow eye, among other activities.
Miller, the son of Rick and Kay Miller, of Fulton, traveled by himself to the conference in late July before returning in the first days of August. He said most of the participants were from the east coast, but there were some international students on hand for the conference, as well. Meeting those students was one of the most enjoyable parts of the experience, he said.
“Just getting to know other people. It was great to make that connection, especially going into the medical field, it will probably come back to help me in the future,” Miller said.
Miller has had his eye on a career in medicine for some time. His mother, Kay, is a veterinarian, and watching her work while he was growing up left and impression about what he could do to help others.
“My mom is a veterinarian, so it was always fun to watch her work with animals,” Miller said. “I think humans would be a little more fun, because you can figure out what’s wrong with them.”
The recent leadership conference at Harvard Medical School was a fantastic experience, he said, but he is thinking locally when it comes to his choice of medical school. Right now, Augustana University and the University of South Dakota are his choices for education after high school.
And until then, it’s more classes until graduation.
“I’m pretty much just sticking to classes, I don’t really have any other (conferences) like this, but summer comes around, and you never know, I guess,” Miller said.
His time in Massachusetts interacting with other like-minded students was definitely worth the time and effort, he said. He would most definitely recommend giving a similar experience a try. Simply meeting and working with other talented, motivated students in an environment away from home can broaden your horizons, he said, and that can give you perspective you may have been missing before.
He’s taking those lessons with him to the next stage of his life, and he said others should think about doing so, as well.
“I definitely would encourage them to go do something like this. It gives you an understanding of how small you are. You may be the smartest person at your high school, but you’ll meet people smarter than you,” Miller said.