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From high school to med school? Believe it!

By Gary Rollins

LA VETA-  A couple of weeks ago, the Journal ran a piece about La Veta High School senior Zane Sternberg becoming a Boettcher Scholarship finalist.  Zane recently learned he was not selected as one of the forty 2010 Boettcher recipients.  The news was a disappointment.

    Twelve hours later, he received another letter from the University of Colorado at Denver (UCD).  UCD has recently joined their downtown campus and the Aurora Health Sciences campus– called Anschutz –under the UCD umbrella.

    This has led to new and innovative educational paths.  In the year 2010, the first of ten high school graduates will be accepted into a remarkable program.  Hours after receiving the news that he was not to receive a Boettcher scholarship, Zane struck academic gold when he learned he will be one of the first ten students in this innovative program.

    These ten students will comprise the first “UCD BA/MS-MD” program.  They will spend the first four years on the downtown campus, and, as long as they maintain a certain GPA and fulfill all the typical pre-med courses, they are already accepted into the freshman CU medical school class at the Anschutz campus beginning in 2014. 

    When Zane was interviewing with 29 other finalists at the medical school a few weeks ago, he learned that last year there were just under 4,000 applicants for approximately 130 places in this year’s freshman medical school class.  “I’m really lucky to have already cleared that major hurdle,” said Zane.

    “I owe so much to my teachers at La Veta.  They have been so supportive and willing to write recommendations.  Mrs. Bree Lessar, our principal, has been great.  But, Rick Sciacca, my LVHS counselor, deserves all the credit for learning about this neat program.”  Sciaccca’s comment about Zane?  “He is an amazing kid.”

    The group of ten students is very diverse with a preponderance from Pakistani, Hispanic and Asian backgrounds.  They will live together in the dorms for the first two years.  Since they’re already admitted into medical school, their goal will be to help each other succeed and the competitive element will be almost absent.  The program envisions the future of medicine as working together in teams to provide the best care.

    The students will receive more than $4,000 each summer for work in high-tech labs.  They will all receive scholarships of approximately $40,000 for the first four years and $50,000 for four years of medical school, representing just under one-half of the eight-year program cost.

    This is, most definitely, a “feel good” story for La Veta, Zane, and his proud parents, Dr. Patrick Sternberg and Terri Krug.  Here’s a young man who works hard, studies hard and has earned the respect and admiration of those fine teachers and counselors in La Veta’s school system.  And are we not blessed, as a community, to have these educational resources.  In eight short years, we look forward to celebrating when young Zane becomes Dr. Zane Sternberg.