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Biomedical firm offers support for students

Posted: October 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 1, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Kevin Ross, left, and Brooke Bogan listen to a presentation from Stephen Settles at Boston Scientific in Valencia on Friday. Kevin Ross, left, and Brooke Bogan listen to a presentation from Stephen Settles at Boston Scientific in Valencia on Friday.
Kevin Ross, left, and Brooke Bogan listen to a presentation from Stephen Settles at Boston Scientific in Valencia on Friday.

Boston Scientific reached out to the William S. Hart Union High School District on Friday, forming a bridge to the future for black high school students interested in entering the ever-growing biomedical field.

Inspired by employee Stephen Settles, operations program manager II with Boston Scientific, the biomedical firm made a long-term commitment to students launching its Bridge to the Future program in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The Valencia-based Boston Scientific Neuromodulation company is providing monthly one-on-one mentoring and group meetings for students who enroll in the program, scholarship grants and assistance developing skills in science, technology and engineering and mathematics fields.

Students enrolled in the program will be eligible for stipends of $3,000 per year to help defray the cost of higher education, and Boston Scientific will reserve a paid internship for every student who participates in, and completes, the program.
Boston Scientific launched the program at an orientation for some 76 interested high school students Friday.

Community steward
As a major employer in the Santa Clarita Valley, it is important to be good stewards within the community and do our part to ensure everyone can reach the highest level of achievement, said Michael Onuscheck, senior vice president with Boston Scientific.

Boston Scientific employs some 1,200 people from Santa Clarita Valley and local cities nearby. 

“We have an obligation to be of service within our communities and to help enrich the lives and well-being of others within our community,” Onuscheck said.

The Bridge to the Future program is designed to recognize and develop the potential of students by giving them the opportunity to achieve their dreams.

The program also serves as a pipeline to recruiting future talent for the biomedical firm or industry at large. Bridge to the Future supports the development of life-long careers, and perhaps even life-altering innovations, for students and the general population alike.

“I am very pleased that Boston Scientific has chosen to partner with the Hart District in an effort to provide meaningful educational and leadership opportunities for our young people,” said Rob Challinor, William S. Hart district superintendent.

“Our world has become incredibly complex, and success comes to those individuals that are willing to ‘go the extra mile’ to position themselves to succeed,” Challinor said. “Boston Scientific, thanks for caring about our students.”

Future professionals
Golden Valley High student Nandi Moore, 14, attended Friday’s program because she dreams of being a cardiac or plastic surgeon and thinks the program may serve as a path to her future.

Student David Harris, 17, with West Ranch High is interested in computers, and how he can integrate his field with the science of biotechnology.

Students interested in attending Friday’s event were screened and selected by teachers and counselors, Challinor said.
Boston Scientific’s program provided  the opportunity to bring my students over who are interested in working in the field of biotechnology, said Matt Pearce of West Ranch High in Stevenson Ranch.

Several West Ranch students dressed in neatly pressed white dress shirts surrounded Pearce during a break in sessions during the morning-long program.

All were engaged in a serious discussion of the biomedical and biotechnology applications in everyday life. Pearce said he was the founding science department chair for the high school.

“I’m researching transcranial magnetic simulation for the possibility of treating epilepsy,” said Robleh Farah, 16, of West Ranch High.

The noninvasive method intended to study neurons in the brain is based on electric currents in a rapidly changing magnetic field.

“I want to be a neurosurgeon,” Farah said.

Role Model
Brooke Bogan, a UCLA graduate, spoke to the assembled students and attributed her entry into the field to her mother. Her parents and grandmother all have master’s degrees, and she has an uncle who is a Rhodes scholar at Stanford.

Growing up in a family with a high priority placed on education, Bogan said she never realized growing up that there was a choice whether to go to college.

Bogan, a 2006 Hart High graduate, enrolled at UC Irvine as a literary journalism major. Within two weeks, she realized she was in the wrong field. Biology was always a subject she found attractive.

Transferring to College of the Canyons, Bogan completed all her biology requirements and then transferred into UCLA; the only school she applied to attend, and was accepted by.

Today, Bogan works at UCLA Vector Control producing viruses that act as delivery vehicles for therapeutic genes. She is also studying the possibility of suicide gene-therapy and plans to go to medical school.

“I wish I had had this opportunity when I was in high school,” Bogan said.

Helping the generations
Settles was inspired to start the program after a similar student program turned his life around in Kentucky. Settles came from a broken home of three children, all of different fathers, and a drug-addicted mother. One of his brothers died at age 20.

He has since been to every corner of the world for extended periods of time and is now raising two children as a single father while working with Boston Scientific.

Settles told his life story to share his message: “Whatever your neighborhood or environment looks like, that isn’t the world,” Settles said.

Settles shared one other thing — until Friday, he had never worn a short-sleeve shirt to work because his arms are covered in tattoos.

He closed by showing students two of them; one an inspirational quote and the other a depiction of man descending a wall, reaching back to make sure he helps a second man make it over the wall, as well.

“Education is seeing past what’s right in front of you,” Settles said.

American writer, and author of “Roots,” Alex Haley, once said, “In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, bridge to our future.”


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