The Oncofertility Saturday Academy is an educational program for young high school women to learn about the science behind cancer and fertility. After beginning in Chicago in 2007, educators at the Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BE WiSE) program started a San Diego-based Oncofertility Academy in 2008.
In San Diego, the Oncofertility Academy is a summer program works that works with high school girls to teach many facets of science including cancer and reproductive biology, clinical applications, and bioethics. These diverse subjects are then combined to incorporate the emerging field of oncofertility. The lead instructor of the program, Dr. Ericka Senegar-Mitchell, is also a full-time teacher at “a public school in San Diego and hosts an after school program called Science in the City,” says Patricia Winter, the founder of BE WiSE.
The young women in the program also perform experiments in scientific laboratories at research institutes across San Diego, including the lab of Oncofertility Consortium member Dr. Jeffrey Chang at the University of California San Diego, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography. According to Winter, “We wanted this to be a, hopefully, life-changing experience for the kids.”
The students in the 2010 Oncofertility Academy are comprised of 10th, 11th, and 12th grades. Winter stressed, ““Our 12 girls are from 10 different schools so we have this very broad mix” of participants. This year’s students will have their closing ceremonies on August 14th, where they will present and defend posters about their summer activities. According to Winter, “Parents, teachers, board members, and donors,” participate in this event to celebrate the accomplishments of each young woman and encourage future learning in the sciences.