High schoolers from across the country toured the Cancer Center at Illinois (CCIL) this week and got a glimpse into some of the projects developed by CCIL members and their research teams.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Native Affairs Jacki Thompson Rand and Native Affairs Program Coordinator Jenna Wombles-Jagodzinski lead the Indigenous Pathways Program through the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. The program invites Native sophomores and juniors from any Native nation to visit campus. Students stay on campus for several days while learning about college life and studies – including cancer research.

The group visited the labs of two CCIL members, Stephen Boppart and Viktor Gruev. They learned about the use of lasers in imaging and the development of novel cameras and nanoparticle solutions to help doctors during surgery.

“I thought it was cool how much life-changing stuff they’re doing,” said program participant Harrison Kirkwood. The junior from Lawrence, Kansas, says this program opened his eyes to opportunities at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and he could see himself on campus in the next couple of years.

The visit ended with a panel discussion where student researchers and CCIL leaders discussed what life is like at Illinois, finding your path after high school graduation, and the importance of cancer research in Native populations.

PhD Candidate Janet Sorrells speaks to students

Panel  discussion with PhD candidates Carlos Renteria and Janet Sorrells, graduate student Brianna Hajek, and postdoctoral research fellow Indrajit Srivastava

Story by Jessica Clegg, CCIL communications.

Information about the Indigenous Pathways Program can be found here.