Lawrence North hosts youth summit

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Black health professionals from across the U.S. visited Lawrence North High School Nov. 12 to speak and inspire Black students within Lawrence Township to pursue their dreams of being in the medical field.

Indiana’s first-ever Black Men in White Coats Youth Summit at Lawrence North was presented by Indianapolis-based Community Health Network. Nearly 500 students, parents, educators and community leaders participated in the daylong event meant to provide mentorship and networking opportunities to encourage Black youth to consider careers in medicine and health care.

Black Men in White Coats started in 2013 in response to a report that showed a decreasing number of Black men applying to medical school. By working closely with medical schools, high schools and physicians, the organization aims to provide inspiration and mentorship to youth who may be interested in health care as a profession.

Juneus Smith aspires to be a cardiologist, the first in his family. Image by Rebecca Fending.

The summit featured speakers, breakout sessions and opportunities for students to participate in hands-on activities and simulations. One student shared his aspirations and what he hoped to gain from the summit.

Juneus “J.R.” Smith, a senior at Lawrence North, wants to be a cardiologist.

“A lot of people of color have heart issues, especially Black men,” Smith said. “It’s important to be comfortable with your doctor when dealing with important issues, and I’d like to help make them comfortable.”

Smith, who is sorting his college options, said events like the youth summit are important for creating connections.

“None of my family is in the health field, so with events like this, I really want to make connections with professionals,” he said. “I’m looking at the University of Cincinnati, historically Black colleges and Tuskegee University. But since Cincinnati is closer to home, it’s probably my best option.

“For the future, I love learning. That’s all I want to keep doing.”

For more about the initiative, visit blackmeninwhitecoats.org/.

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