Hardnett completes Yale medical enrichment program

Published 3:38 pm Wednesday, July 19, 2023

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

Jemison High School graduate and current Alabama A&M University student Zyon Hardnett participated in the Yale Medical Enrichment Summer Academy in June and July on the campus of Yale University. The six-week residential program exposes Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions students to different things in the medical field to prepare them to become successful medical school applicants.

Hardnett is a rising junior and biology major at Alabama A&M with a concentration in pre-nursing. She graduated from Jemison in 2021, and she has always been interested in the medical field and wanted to be a nurse. Hardnett has aunts and uncles who are nurses and doctors, and she has been exposed to the medical field much of her life, which contributed to her interest in it. Hardnett chose to attend Alabama A&M to pursue a career as a travel nurse and eventually an OBGYN doctor.

Early in the summer, Hardnett received an email from Alabama A&M.

“Most people look at their emails and do not think anything of it,” Hardnett said. “I looked, and it said ‘You have been selected to participate in a summer program at Yale.’ I thought there was no way.”

Hardnett filled out an application and waited to hear if she was one of the students chosen to participate in the program. About a week later, she was informed she was.

“(Yale) paid for everything. The plane ticket, housing and anything we needed up there,” Hardnett said. “They just wanted us to be involved in the medical field, and be prepared for anything that is related to the medical field.”

Hardnett had never been that far from home before traveling to Yale for the program, but she said she really enjoyed it. She said the phrase “Start here, go anywhere,” that she learned her freshman year at Alabama A&M changed her life forever. It also encouraged her to take the opportunity to attend the Yale program.

“Alabama A&M taught me to aim high and reach for the stars,” Hardnett said. “Growing up in Jemison, I knew that my education was my most valuable asset. I worked hard and achieved a high GPA, which allowed me to embark on the journey I had always dreamed of.”

At the program, Hardnett was exposed to doctors and visited their houses, learned an intensive curriculum, got to work with new Microsoft virtual reality hologram technology, cadavers and a medical truck that travels around the Yale University area to assist with unhoused people emergencies.

“We had doctors come speak to us, different medical students come speak to us,” Hardnett said. “I wish we had these types of things down here (in Alabama) because it would be good for someone who wants to go to medical school to be exposed to things like that, and get more of a hands-on opportunity.”

Hardnett met people from Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Brazil and other parts of the world and the United States, which she said was the best thing about the program along with getting to speak with doctors.

“I hope other people (at Alabama A&M) take this opportunity,” Hardnett said. “I think it will be a great opportunity for them, and they will not regret it.”

Hardnett received a certificate from Yale for completing the program, and she can use the program hours towards credit hours for internships at Alabama A&M. Hardnett did classes in the program such as biology and introduction to research that will prepare her for the fall semester at Alabama A&M.

Following the program, Hardnett received an email that she was one of the students in the program selected to do an interview for an article at Yale talking about the program and their experiences.

Yale has also expressed their desire to have Hardnett attend their medical school after she completes her undergraduate studies at Alabama A&M. She said she is still looking, but enjoys having Yale as a very viable option when it comes time for medical school.

“I can’t say enough positive things about my experience with the Yale program. It was an incredible journey that helped me grow in ways I never thought possible,” Hardnett said. “I was surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals who were all striving to be their best selves, and I felt inspired and motivated every day by the progress I saw in myself and others. I learned new skills, gained valuable experience and made lifelong connections with people who I know will be my friends for years to come.”

Hardnett added that the biggest thing she gained from her experience in the program was a new-found sense of confidence in herself and her abilities. She realized she is capable of achieving anything she wants, and there are no limits to what she can accomplish if she puts her mind to it.

Hardnett also hopes that her experience gives other students in Chilton County the confidence to chase goals like hers, no matter the school or program they aspire to do.