100 Campers graduate from Camp xSEL Second Cohort
The University of Liberia College of Health Sciences (ULCHS), in partnership with the United States-based partner universities Yale and Vanderbilt, has concluded a four-week Camp xSEL (Excellence in Science Education for Liberia) program, a USAID – supported BRIDGE: U – Liberia initiative held to equip incoming students with learning tools for their journey in health sciences education in Liberia.
The closing program took place on the Medical School Campus of the University of Liberia in Congo Town on Wednesday, August 31, 2022. One hundred students comprising 51 females and 49 males, graduated from the Camp xSEL Second Cohort.
Camp xSEL, as an extension of the College of Health Sciences, University of Liberia, is a four-week summer camp program developed for secondary students in Liberia interested in pursuing a career in the medical and health fields.
The mission of Camp xSEL is to provide incoming students with the tools to approach science learning in the 21st century and equip them with the skills and attributes to help them excel in medical school.
The camp experience is centered around four pillars: inquiry-based learning, data-driven critical thinking, relational and holistic concept understanding, and soft-skill building. By creating an immersive learning experience founded on these four pillars, Camp xSEL provides a learning experience emphasizing the intersectionality of health sciences in a way that is fun, engaging, and intriguing for the campers.
The vision of Camp xSEL is to create a student-centered, welcoming learning environment that empowers secondary school students to feel more confident in their learning, while inspiring and preparing them to: pursue careers in the health sector, engage critically with the topics that they learn, and foster lifelong learning.
Throughout the camp held at the Baptist Theological Seminary along the Robertsfield Highway, students participated in daily lectures that focus on skills that will best help them to succeed in the medical school program. The students sat for lectures in math, chemistry, biology, physics, and various sections of English (reading comprehension and oral speech).
On the other hand, the students sat for lectures in math, chemistry, anatomy and physiology, cellular and molecular biology, and English. Both sections have three lab sections a week and have discussion sections where they review scientific journals and a “Drawing Connections” section where they bring in the topics they have been discussing throughout the week and how they work together and are seen in the real world outside of the classroom.
Prof. Dr. Julius J. Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., President of the University of Liberia, said during the closing exercise that the Camp xSEL 2022 Program is intended to groom and transition young and promising students in preparation for their sojourn into the medical field.
President Nelson thanked Bridge: U – Liberia for collaborating with the Ministry of Education through the County and District Educational Officers, in recruiting from various secondary schools around the country, “one hundred young, smart, determined and highly motivated participants for this second program of Camp xSEL 2022.”
“As you graduate today and transition from this phase and endeavor to embark upon a journey that many fear to tread, I want to encourage you to be steadfast, vigilant, determined, and focused,” said President Nelson.
All of Liberia’s 15 counties were represented by a different number of students recruited into the Camp.
Dr. Bernice Dahn, Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Liberia and Co-Principal Investigator on the BRIDGE – U: Liberia project thanked the Ministry of Education and the County and District Education Officers for supporting Camp xSEL teams in the various counties for the selection of the young students.
Based on the performance of students in the second cohort, Dr. Dahn said it means that the Camp brought together the best students across the country. Due to ongoing academic activities on the Fendall Campus of the University of Liberia, she said this year’s camp was held at the Baptist Theological Seminary. She thanked the Seminary for hosting the Camp.
USAID Program Analyst, BRIDGE: U Management Team Representative Mr. Aaron Burr thanked the BRIDGE:U Team, the Government of Liberia, University of Liberia and all of the partners for the collaboration.
Mr. Burr said it is a privilege to work with the BRIDGE: U Team, and he felt more honored to be here to see the work in action.
He explained that from conversations held when he met with some of the organizers, administrators, counselors and some of the students on Tuesday, 30 August 2022, it was obvious that this group had a lot of passion and dedication.
“So first I wanted to just give an appreciation to the team, you’ve done an amazing job organizing this camp. I’m excited to continue, USAID is [ready] to continue partnership with you and your team,” he said.