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Perry Outreach Program coming to UNM on Feb. 24

February 22, 2024 - by Kim Delker

photo: Students participate in the 2024 Perry Outreach Program at UNM.
Students participate in the 2024 Perry Outreach Program at UNM.

The University of New Mexico will again be hosting the Perry Outreach Program Perry Initiative, a one-day, hands-on workshop designed to attract more young women into the fields of orthopedic medicine and engineering.

The Perry Initiative will be held Feb. 24 at UNM Sandoval Regional Medical Center in Rio Rancho.

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 have the opportunity to perform mock orthopedic 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 UNM Department of Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation and special assistant in the School of Engineering for Health Sciences Center relations, is passionate about the power of the program and its ability to spark interest in the field of orthopedics. Her involvement in the program dates back to her time as an intern at University of California at San Francisco at the start of her Ph.D. program. She now serves as co-chair of the advisory board for the national organization.

“In more than a decade of hosting the event at UNM, many Perry alumni have enrolled in our engineering programs and many have worked in my lab as undergrads and grad students,” said Salas, who is also the director of the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program in the School of Engineering. “This continues to be an amazing pipeline into our STEM programs at UNM.”