“I wasn’t thinking about a career in science until I started in Science Club at the Boys & Girls Club,” said Myles Moore, who graduated from the University of Kentucky this spring with a degree in Clinical Leadership and Management.
In 2008, Myles was an 8th grader and one of the first students to join Science Club (he later went on to attend Kenwood Academy). Now, he is one of the first reported Science Club alumni to have graduated with a university degree in a STEM-related field.
At the time, Science in Society Director Mike Kennedy was the Director of Education and Outreach at the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University. He realized there was a need to connect Chicago students to scientists.
To address this need, Mike partnered with teachers in Chicago Public Schools and the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago to pilot an afterschool, mentor-based science program for middle school youth. The program paired four Northwestern scientists with twelve students at Pederson-McCormick Boys & Girls Club. Myles was an 8th grader in the inaugural youth group.
Over the next year, Myles and his peers explored science and learned inquiry-based skills with support from Mike and the scientist-mentors. It was Myles' first experience working with scientists, and he gained exposure to the wide range of scientific and health-related career options open to him.
Mike and Myles stayed in regular touch throughout high school – including when Myles was named the Pederson-McCormick Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year two-years running – and as he applied to college. Homework support and informal check-ins were always available to him through both Science Club and the Pedersen-McCormick Club.
Even in college, the relationship continued. When Myles was looking for a clinical summer internship between his junior and senior year of college, Mike leveraged his professional network to help Myles find opportunities. Myles landed a position with Dr. Raju Ghate, orthopaedic surgeon and Northwestern biomedical engineering alum. This, too helped him refine his interests and eventual career path.
When Myles contemplated switching from a Biomechanical Engineering to Clinical Leadership major, Mike was the first person he called. And Mike continues to be a resource Myles can turn to when he needs academic or career guidance.
Reflecting upon his journey, Myles said, “My experience with Science Club – and the relationships I formed there – played a key role in my academic success, even in college.”
“Mike so obviously finds joy in bringing STEM education and opportunities to youth, and that joy is now amplified through the programs he has built and the mentors who volunteer,” said Myles. “Science Club is an awesome program that everyone should have an opportunity to be a part of.”
In 2014, Myles joined Mike in Washington D.C. to lobby for Science Club and programs like it, hoping to ensure future generations of students continue to have access to high-quality STEM education opportunities.
At the time, the federal grant program which funded Science Club’s development (the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science Education Partnership Award) was at risk of being cut from the Congressional budget. Myles and Mike went to D.C. to meet with staff from Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and Senator Dick Durbin’s offices, and Myles spoke at Boys & Girls Club-organized events to share the impact programs like Science Club have in our local communities and on lives like his.
Efforts like Myles’ and Mike’s, along with a chorus of other advocacy voices, rescued the Science Education Partnership Awards from the chopping block. Not only was funding restored, but the NIH program has been specifically written into annual spending legislation worthy of federal investment.
And even now, as Myles is finishing off his undergraduate career, the academic and life-skills support Myles received from the Boys & Girls Club and Science Club make him even more committed to continue helping and advocating for others. He is particularly passionate about improving the quality and accessibility of healthcare facilities, as well as addressing urban and rural health disparities.
“I couldn't be more proud of Myles and the success he has earned,” said Mike. “He is a shining example of the hundreds of young people whom Science in Society mentors every single day across Chicago and Evanston.” Mike added, “Every child and young adult, regardless of socioeconomic background, needs great teachers, mentors, and community supports. It is an honor to work with partners like Chicago Public Schools and Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago to help Chicago youth realize their goals and career aspirations.”
Congratulations, Myles! We are proud of you!