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Perry Initiative for high school girls coming to UNM on April 1

February 8, 2023 - by Kim Delker

photo: participants of the Perry Outreach Program

Attracting more young women into the fields of orthopedic medicine and engineering is the goal of the Perry Outreach Program, and once again, The University of New Mexico will be hosting the one-day, hands-on workshop this spring.

The Perry Outreach Program’s Perry Initiative will be held April 1 at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center in Rio Rancho. Applications for the program are due March 1.

The program is open to high school females from New Mexico and surrounding states. The goal of the Perry Initiative is to increase the participation of students who gender-identify as female into the careers of engineering and orthopedic surgery, two predominantly male fields. This is done through allowing participants to act as engineers and surgeons for the day.

During the event, students get the opportunity to perform mock ortho surgeries, working side by side with female engineers and surgeons. They also participate in short talks from female mentors in those careers, experimental testing of repaired bones, observing a cadaveric dissection to learn about human anatomy, and receive follow-up mentorship from the leadership team.

Christina Salas, an associate professor of the Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation and special assistant in the School of Engineering for Health Sciences Center relations, is organizing the program.

“This program is very dear to me, as I was fortunate to help create the program while an intern at UCSF [University of California at San Francisco] at the start of my Ph.D., and I now serve as co-chair of the advisory board for the national organization,” she Salas, who is also interim director of the Biomedical Engineering Program in the School of Engineering.

She said she is passionate about the potential of the program, as well as the impact it has already had.

“This is our 10th year hosting the program, and each year it is a huge success,” she said. “A number of UNM Perry alum have enrolled in our engineering programs and many have worked in my lab as undergrads and grad students. This is a terrific pipeline into our educational programs at UNM.”

“This is a somewhat competitive application, since we can only accept 40 participants,” Salas said. “So, the students should put some effort into answering the questions on the application with respect to their interest in learning about careers in engineering and medicine.”

All participants of the program will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Any individuals or companies interested in sponsoring the program can contact Salas at Sponsorship allows participants to attend the workshop at no cost to them, including materials, supplies, breakfast and lunch. She is also looking for engineering student volunteers who would be willing to sit on a panel at the end of the day to talk about their experience in the School of Engineering, as well as engineering student groups who would like set up a table for about an hour from 2-3 p.m. that day so that the participants can learn more about the School of Engineering and its organizations. Questions or additional information can be directed to Salas.