High school students get inside view of college at Pacific’s first summer institute

More than 320 high school students experienced college life and engaged in cutting-edge courses as part of the inaugural Pacific Summer High School Institute.

Students across California and from as far as Canada lived on the picturesque Stockton campus for the two-week pre-college program, immersed in one of 13 courses during the day and entertainment and recreational activities during the evenings. 

In the Future Pharmacists course, a pharmacy-themed “escape room” put students to the test to practice the skills they learned, including administering vaccines and compounding drugs, mixing ingredients to create specific medications.

student learns CPR

Students in the Future Pharmacists program learned about careers in pharmacy through hands-on activities.

“I love it. I got to learn a lot about being a pharmacist, different types of pharmacists and the different things that they do,” said Sam Lee, a senior at Independent High School in San Jose. “After experiencing everything, I definitely want to go here, take the prePharm course and become a pharmacist.”
The faculty have had requests from students for letters of recommendation to apply to the program after they graduate high school.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Melanie Felmlee, co-lead for the course. “We’ve had really great, engaged students who have been asking probing questions that are beyond their years.”

Students enrolled in the Entrepreneurship and Technology course learned about technological innovation. 

“It’s been such an amazing experience,” said Miya Takahashi, a student at Middle College High School in Stockton. Classmate Bradley Randall, a student at Lincoln High School in Stockton, agreed.

“As a senior this is crucial,” he said. “I’m thinking about mechanical engineering, so this is a really good program for that."

Bradley Randall

High school student Bradley Randall paddles a boat he and his teammates designed across the Chris Kjeldsen Pool.

A lesson on buoyancy and gravity force took the students from the lab to the Douglass M. Eberhardt Aquatics Center to test boats made of cardboard and duct tape designed using AutoCAD, a computer-aided design and drafting software.

“These kinds of hands-on activities help them learn the principles of the science with applied and practical examples,” said Mehdi Khazaeli, associate professor and faculty lead for the course.

When academic programs wrapped up each day, students had a full range of activities and events in the evening, including a beach volleyball tournament, movies, scavenger hunts, games on the lawn and swimming. “We want to show them that the university is much more than just the classes, said Balint Sztaray, director of the summer institute and a professor of chemistry. “Living here is a rich and unique experience and we want to encourage them to pursue a Pacific education.”

students playing Jenga

Students played games on Knoles Lawn after completing their academic programs for the day.

Plans are in the works to expand offerings for next year, including a course offered through Pacific’s nationally renowned Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry and a variety of sports camps.

“The summer institute has been a remarkable experience for these students,” said President Christopher Callahan. “It not only gave them a chance to learn from our exceptional faculty but to also explore everything Pacific has to offer in one of the most beautiful settings in the country.

“These students now have an advantage as they begin applying to college and making plans for their future.”

On the final day of the institute, hundreds of students and their families gathered with Pacificans on Knoles Lawn for a celebration of students’ opportunities and accomplishments.

“We want you to know that what you are feeling in this moment and as you return to your homes is just right,” said Maria Blandizzi, vice president for student life. “You have gone through a transformational experience the past two weeks … The learning you experienced here is critical in you developing into your adult life. Reflect on your experiences and where you made the most of it.”

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Pacific Summer High School Institute 2022