Every year, the Summer Student Research Program places undergraduate, graduate or health professional program students with faculty within Academics at Women’s College Hospital (WCH).
“As an academic hospital, we believe that research insights and data can help advance patient care and the health system,” said Dr. Rulan Parekh, Vice President of Academics at WCH, during her opening speech. “As our healthcare system struggles to address systemic issues, we will need more research, more innovation, and more insights to move the needle forward. We will need the next generation of clinicians and scientists.”
With more than 30 presentations covering a wide range of diverse topics including virtual care for migrants and refugees, racial disparities in breast cancer, prostate cancer equity and more, students were primed to present their findings after months of research and mentorship from WCH clinicians.
While all the students came from undergraduate, master’s and health professional backgrounds, there was one student who came from a unique background.
Called as the final presenter, 16-year-old, high school student, Neha Kasoju, ended the day with her presentation on “Exploring Vaginoplasty: The Guide for Youth.”
Co-supervised by WCH’s Dr. Alexandra Millman and Emery Potter from the Transition Related Surgery (TRS) Program, Neha had to fast-track her work to join this experienced batch of presenters.
“For logistical reasons, Neha had to present with this stream,” says Dr. Millman. “It’s amazing to see what she’s accomplished in such a short period of time.”
Neha presented her findings and work on the topic of vaginoplasty, including a guide for youth entitled, “So you’re thinking of vaginoplasty?”
“Informing youth about this surgery is critical as trans-youth, especially those under the age of 18, are making major decisions such as starting puberty suppression, without knowing that it may impact their eligibility criteria for vaginoplasty surgery,” says Neha. “It’s important for youth to be informed before making these types of decisions. That’s why I created a brochure and guidebook.”
Neha’s time as a summer student has been an experience she’ll never forget.
“For future summer students, my advice is to be curious. If you are questioning or wanting to experience something, just ask!” says Neha. “It is so important to make use of this time to get exposure and to make connections and life-long memories. Since elementary school, I knew I wanted to work in a hospital and help. Being 16 years old, I never would have expected to be in an operating room watching surgeries and having direct patient-care experience through weekly clinics. I know I will remember this experience forever.”
Thank you and congratulations to Neha and to this year’s cohort of students! If you’d like to hear from more amazing high school students on their research at WCH – join our High School Student Symposium on Thursday, August 10 in the auditorium. Find the agenda here.