Kukoyi RotimiOne of the only programs of its kind, the UAB Department of Surgery Pre-College Research Internship for Students from Minority Backgrounds (PRISM) provides promising high school students, interested in careers in healthcare and medicine, with hands-on research experiences under the mentorship of surgeons and their peers.

Each year, five students are selected for the program annually. Over the eight-week experience, students will complete a mentored research project, which often involve a team approach involving students at other levels, including undergraduate and medical students.

The experience also includes learning opportunities, such as seminars and workshops, and supplemental activities, including clinical shadowing, to expose students to clinical practice and surgical careers.

In this installment of UAB PRISM student feature, Rotimi Kukoyi shares his experience in the program and how it prepared him for a developing career in medicine.

What got you interested in PRISM?Rotimi presenting

“PRISM seemed like the perfect opportunity for me. I had a passion for medicine, and I was interested in pursuing research before graduating from high school. The program provided an excellent means for me to achieve these goals, offering access to UAB’s amazing resources and faculty members. When I was accepted into PRISM, I knew that I couldn’t pass on such a great opportunity and eagerly committed myself to the 8-week program.”

How has it helped bolster your future endeavors?

“Due to my participation in PRISM, I was able to acquire early access to research and clinical exposure. The program allowed me to demonstrate a commitment to medicine, the sciences, and research, and this demonstration has had many positive implications for me. I’ve returned to my biology classroom with a heightened understanding of concepts, enjoying a knowledge that can only be gained from the active application of learning found through research.

My participation in PRISM highlighted my commitment to learning both inside and outside of the classroom, and I’ve been recognized for my scholarship and other virtues through opportunities such as the Coca Cola Scholars Program and other competitive scholarship programs. So far, I have been admitted into UAB, the University of Alabama, and Yale University, but I am still waiting to hear back from UAB’s EMSAP program and other universities. Ultimately, the PRISM program has opened up a lot of doors for me!”

Would you recommend PRISM to other students? Why?

“I recommend PRISM for all students with an interest in conducting research! The program allowed me to gain early hands-on experience in a lab, and I learned several fundamental research techniques in the process!

Acquiring this level of professional experience in high school will certainly help you in the future, including making lab positions more accessible in university and increasing your competitiveness as an applicant for university and scholarships. In addition to its academic benefits, it was a really fun experience! I got to meet cool teens from across the state, and the mentors were super supportive and nice! If you have any interest in conducting research and will be in town this summer, I would apply for PRISM!”