Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Perry Outreach Reinforces Young Woman’s Interest in Medicine

Demarest, NJ: After spending a day in the Perry Outreach program, Maya Sharma was energized and excited about the future of women in male-dominated careers. The Academy of the Holy Angels junior had planned to pursue a medical degree before she was chosen to attend the Perry Outreach, but the program allowed Sharma and other female high school students to interact with women who are making inroads in engineering and orthopedics.

Organized by the Perry Initiative, the Perry Outreach is held at the New York Simulation Center in New York City. The program strives to create a conduit for women to enter engineering and medical professions, including orthopedics.

“I had such an awesome experience talking to some of the orthopedic residents and bio-medical engineers as well as meeting like-minded high school girls,” Sharma said. “I think it would be a great opportunity for other AHA students to know about and apply for this program. Even if they aren't familiar with or sure about orthopedics or engineering, it is great exposure.”

Sharma was selected for the program shortly after she submitted her application, which consisted of two 1,000-word essays.

“The one-day program was packed with a variety of activities,” Sharma explained. “Several lectures were given by both orthopedic and engineering professionals in addition to college students pursuing careers in these fields.”

Attendees also heard a presentation by an orthopedic surgeon. “She shared her experience and the reactions she received when entering such a heavily male-dominated field,” Sharma noted.

The Perry Outreach also included “active” components, including procedure simulations. Sharma and her peers worked on a tibia fracture repair using plates and screws, made a rotator cuff repair, applied an external fixator to a femur fracture, and repaired a mid-shaft femoral fracture with an intramedullary nail.

Sharma also spoke with two fifth-year orthopedic residents from New York University during the small group discussion period. The residents generously shared their experiences and insights.

The final activity was a question and answer session with all the professionals who had been part of the day’s program.

“One of the third-year residents offered a great piece of advice to us at the end of the program. She said that it doesn't matter whether we choose to go into orthopedics or not, we should find a job we truly love. We should be able to come home from work and say that we really love what we do. We shouldn't feel limited by what is traditionally male-dominated or unfit for women. If it is something we truly want to do, success is possible,” Sharma said.

“I think it is so important that young women know that there are no limitations to what careers they can pursue! This is an opportunity for women empowerment. There is a sense of pride for a young woman able to enter conventionally male careers and is incredibly motivating for young girls witnessing it all. It is time for us to break through these limitations that have been set for us in our historically patriarchal society. We are equally capable to take up jobs an orthopedics and engineering, and I cannot wait to see the trend shift to more women pursuing these fields.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

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