The Perry Outreach Initiative 

December 13, 2014 

Six Academy of the Holy Angels students were selected to participate in The Perry Outreach Initiative hosted by New York University Center at Bellevue Hospital in New York City on December 13th. Named in honor of the late orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jacqueline Perry, The Perry Initiative is dedicated to inspiring young women to study orthopedic medicine and engineering. Although women are well represented at the nation’s medical schools, they are less likely than men to specialize in these fields. The Perry Initiative aims to reverse this trend by encouraging female students to consider a career in orthopedics and engineering. It hosts one day hands-on programs at medical centers across the county for high school and college students where they perform mock orthopedic surgeries conduct engineering experiments and attend presentations given by accomplished women scientists. 

There were 36 students all together who participated in the program. They were guided by an all female team of orthopedic surgeons, residents and mechanical and bio-medical engineers. The girls performed several types of mock orthopedic surgeries including a spinal fusion for scoliosis, a knee replacement and an external fixation. They used power tools to create a fracture in a bone model and then were required to repair it using plates and screws that would provide the most stability.

Participants were also invited to attend presentations from top women physicians and scientists who shared their experiences and offered invaluable advice on achieving success. Samantha Martinez, who is from Franklin Lakes, found this part of the program to be invaluable: “Their speeches were empowering and reassured me of my dream to become a doctor as well as the work that is needed to be successful in any field.” Kelly Mandella, who is from Montvale, echoed these sentiments: “These women relayed their experience and struggle in entering these fields as a woman, but more importantly their overall success because of their persistence. Kiera Feldner, from Emerson was also similarly inspired: “These women taught us through their personal experience that we can do anything we set out to do and that we should not be limited in our professions because of our gender. It was very empowering knowing that they beat many odds against them to become successful and happy in their professions and it made me feel like I could beat any odds I am faced with and accomplish my goals.”

Admission to the Perry Initiative is highly selective and is based upon an essay and the student’s interest in pursuing a career in medicine. The Academy of the Holy Angels, an all girls high school in Demarest, recently expanded its STEM program to encompass five disciplines: science, technology, religion, art and mathematics (STREAM). Principal Jennifer Moran was delighted that AHA was so well represented at The Perry Outreach Initiative. “Knowing that our students are receiving a holistic education through our unique STREAM program makes me confident that these young women will one day become compassionate, knowledgeable, skilled surgeons who will have the flexibility of mind and creative spirit necessary to advance medicine in our world.”  



Pictured left to right are four of the AHA juniors who participated in the program: Kiera Feldner (Emerson), Samantha Martinez (Franklin Lakes), Allyson MacConchie (Rutherford) and Adrianne Alfonso (Bergenfield). Junior Kelly Mandella (Montvale) and Senior Kiana Yee (Ft. Lee) also participated but are not pictured. 

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