How Calhoun's Medical Club prepares students for a future in medicine


At Sanford H. Calhoun High School, in the Bellmore-Merrick Central High School District, teens interested in pursuing careers in health care have an opportunity to explore the field as early as ninth grade. Calhoun’s Medical Club, a student-run group, takes part in several initiatives throughout the school year, and connects its members with medical professionals who may be vital in helping students kick off their careers.

Athena Silver, the group’s president, told the Herald that she wasn’t sure when the club was founded, but when she joined it as a freshman, it was small, and lacked momentum. “It was kind of an unknown club,” Silver recalled. “It was out there, but no one really knew about it. And still, to this day, people come up to me and tell me they didn’t even know there was a Medical Club.”

As a sophomore, Silver became the club’s treasurer, and then, when its senior officers graduated, she became president as a junior. “And that’s when I kind of changed everything,” she explained. “I feel like it’s a good club to have, because so many people go into health care. I promoted it more, and started making plans. And that year, we had about 60 people join.”

The club has been growing ever since, she added.

Now a senior, Silver said she initially joined the club because she had an interest in nursing. But her thinking changed, and now she wants to be an occupational therapist. Involved in several other clubs and organizations in and outside school, she interns at Birch Elementary School in its occupational therapy office.

Silver said she thinks the club can help students target their interest, and one of its co-vice presidents, Sofia Mescolotto, agreed.

“I knew pretty early on that I was interested in working in health care, but I didn’t know much about what that club would entail,” Mescolotto said. “I thought Medical Club would be an opportunity that could help me find my way, and set a goal for my future.

“From partaking in meetings, I’ve gained so much personally,” she added, “but I’ve also gained from putting effort toward helping others.”

Since Silver became president, the club has rolled out initiatives, one its largest being Pink Out Day. The club created and sold pink shirts for breast cancer awareness, and encouraged people to wear them to a football game.

The club sold so many shirts that it made around $800, which it donated to breast cancer research. “Football isn’t like our big thing” at Calhoun, Silver noted. “We had so many people buy shirts, and the fact that there were so many people there was amazing.”

The club also collected money to buy gifts for teens in local hospitals. “Everyone always gets stuff for the little kids, and all the teens are stuck with Legos and teddy bears, and they don’t all really want that,” Silver said. “So we got blankets, Bluetooth speakers, fun card games, sketchbooks and markers — things that teens would like.”

Silver was also motivated to have the club raise money for multiple sclerosis research, because her mother has the disease. The club sold bags of cheddar-flavored Goldfish — which are orange, the awareness color for M.S. — and again, raised several hundred dollars.

By all accounts, the Medical Club is a community of like-minded students. Angelina Arceo, its other co-vice president, said she was happy to find that at Calhoun.

“I’m proud to be part of a collective where we get to share our passions to the betterment of patients’ lives,” Arceo said, “whether it be through interactive instruction, speaking with health professionals, fundraising for charities, or simply raising more medical awareness.”

“Throughout my adolescence, the medical field has brought me a sense of self-purpose for my future — this club has continued to nurture my passion for the field,” Treasurer Brianna Okolie added. “Having peers by your side who understand the hard work we must put forward to achieve our goals is truly a gift given to us by this club.”

Silver said she hoped the club would soon have a shadowing program, so students can get out in the field and spend a day with professionals in their desired careers.

The club also hosts panel discussions with health care providers, allowing students to learn directly from them.

There are opportunities to join all clubs early in the school year, Silver said, but to get in touch directly with the Medical Club, visit its Instagram page, @CalhounMedClub.

Its adviser, Kristine Fico, a science teacher at Calhoun, said the club helps students develop their personal and professional goals. “Students participating in the club will gain knowledge and real life experiences in the health care field,” Fico said. “The current senior officers have done an incredible job, and have paved the way for our club to have incredible success in the future.”