College of Osteopathic Medicine student Jacob Salner at a whiteboard.


NYITCOM STEP Introduces Young Students to Technology

August 26, 2021

Pictured: NYITCOM student Jacob Salner leads a workshop after a reading of Rory’s Adventure Through the Respiratory System. Salner illustrated the books that he and his classmate Melody Young wrote.

Over the summer, the NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) Science Technology Entry Program (STEP) partnered with two organizations that inspire young students from elementary school through high school. The Envision National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine offers immersive career exploration and leadership development programs for high school students across top college campuses around the country. The Glen Cove Youth Bureau provides a safe and welcoming environment so that youth, families, and the entire community achieve their potential.

Envision National Youth Leadership Forum

NYITCOM STEP hosted 360 high school students at the Envision National Youth Leadership Forum in Medicine. Yllka Valdez, an alumna of NYITCOM STEP and now a sophomore majoring in biology at New York Tech, co-hosted the events with Diane Williams, M.Sc., manager of NYITCOM STEP. Due to the pandemic, the two-day event was held virtually.

The students, who were divided into two groups of 180, participated in presentations by NYITCOM and College of Arts and Sciences faculty. Michael Hadjiargyrou, Ph.D., chair of biological and chemical sciences and director of the Osteopathic Medicine D.O./Medical and Biological Sciences Ph.D. program, spoke about the dual degree, a seven-year program designed to prepare students in clinical care and life-changing biomedical research. Sheldon Yao, D.O., chair of osteopathic manipulative medicine, explained osteopathic medicine. Paula Ryo, D.O., associate professor of family medicine, separated the students into 25 subgroups, each under the guidance of medical students, where they learned about doctor-patient care. The students then participated in role-playing, performing as doctor, patient, scribe, and chart reader. Julia Molnar, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy, and Kelsi Hurdle, research technician, presented a workshop using a Micro-CT scanner (micro computed tomography is a 3-D imaging technique). Michael Granatosky, Ph.D., assistant professor of anatomy, discussed his research on locomotion (the analysis of animal motion). During this presentation, his students, Hannah Fischer and Melody Young, spoke about their research on parrot locomotion and explained how they gather and analyze data. Navin Pokala, Ph.D., assistant professor of biological and chemical sciences, presented his work on gene manipulation.

Each day ended with a panel discussion led by David Oroza, assistant director of admissions, and NYITCOM students, who also presented their research. Among them: Risa Kiernan discussed “Obesity, diet and how it relates to cardiovascular disease;” Rachel Lubinga presented “The importance of skincare at this critical age;” and Katherine Keever discussed “The importance of networking in landing internships and research projects.” The students also spoke about their journeys to medical school.


NYITCOM Assistant Director of Admissions David Oroza (center, bottom row) leads a panel discussion during the Envision National Youth Leadership Forum. Joining him are Manager of STEP Diane Williams (far right, bottom row), and New York Tech student Yllka Valdez (center, second row)

Glen Cove Youth Bureau

For four weeks, NYITCOM STEP partnered with the Glen Cove Youth Bureau to host Science Tuesdays, welcoming 60 students enrolled in the summer program.

The weekly program included:

  • Author’s Day, where K-3 students listened to NYITCOM students Jacob Salner and Melody Young, along with Zachary Levy, a physician assistant student from St. John’s University, read three of the books from their “Rory’s Adventure Series,” including Rory’s Adventure Through the Cardiovascular System, Rory’s Adventure Through the Respiratory System, and Rory’s Adventure Through the Musculoskeletal System. After each weekly reading, NYITCOM student Yllka Valdez led the children in a project relating to the book of the week. They capped off the fourth week by learning about the brain and making a “brain hat.”
  • Grades 4 and 5 learned about robotics. The young students worked with an Edison robot, an educational robot to help students understand the basics of coding. Williams, who led the workshop, gave the example of robot-assisted surgery, and explained how robots aid doctors in saving people’s lives. The purpose was to show students how with basic coding they can program robots to do various tasks.
  • NYITCOM medical students Rachel Lubinga and Yllka Valdez hosted a workshop for grades 6 through 9 about the intricacies of dermatology and the importance of skincare.

NYITCOM STEP works with underserved middle and high school students (STEP scholars), focusing on the technology of today and the technology that will be relevant as they advance from academics into careers. The program offers scholars the flexibility to tailor the program to their interests while maintaining a unified structure. Each working group features discussions and activities that develop scholars’ critical thinking skills and boost their capability to “Do. Make. Innovate. Reinvent the Future.” Learn more about the program.

This article was contributed by Diane Williams, M.Sc., NYITCOM STEP manager.