Student at STEM Academy of Hollywood
“What makes a great school is teachers who are there to support you, and students who want experiences outside of learning,” says Gisselle Reyes. Gisselle is a student at STEM Academy of Hollywood, a pilot school in LAUSD located on the campus of Helen Bernstein High School in Hollywood.
“My school is great because the teachers are supportive, helpful, and there for you any time. We create a bond with our teachers,” says Gisselle.
STEM Academy offers two curriculum pathways for students to choose from — Engineering or Medical — and students then spend their high school careers learning about their area of focus.
“Engineers get real-life training with engineers and entrepreneurs; medical students interact with doctors and paramedics,” says Gisselle. “I chose the medical pathway, and have learned so much about the human body. I know medical terms that doctors use to speak about human anatomy. We work with actual med students and doctors, and I’m looking forward to an internship program at Kaiser Permanente during junior year. I’ve been going to Kaiser since I was a little girl, and I might get the chance to intern with my own doctor.”
Gisselle shares some highlights of her school’s approach, which includes career prep mentorship and high-tech science coursework: “In our Computer Operations class, we are taught how to create our resumes, and each year we update them. We have done presentations on techniques of forensic science like gel electrophoresis. During freshman year, we took a sample of DNA using a hair, and used a gel sample and electricity to see what gel matches which DNA. We did a missing person case where we had to identify the sex of the victim by looking at their bones like the femur and pelvic bone, and we were able to identify their gender, age, height, and ethnicity.”
Besides challenging yet interesting schoolwork, Gisselle also participates in Track and Field, Cross Country, Key Club (she is Secretary), Activist Club, and Girls Build LA. Girls Build LA is a new club for middle and high school female students in LAUSD to collaborate on problem-solving and designing solutions for issues in their communities.
With her experience learning state-of-the-art medical curriculum and opportunities to build her leadership skills, Gisselle is already looking forward her future after high school.
“I want to get in to a good college — one that has the same kind of fit and feel I have at STEM Academy — to find what I want to do in life. I know I want to work with kids because they have an energy and positivity that makes me excited,” says Gisselle.