Students from Sherman Indian High School in Riverside, Calif., will join Western University of Health Sciences’ 2011-12 Pomona Health Career Ladder (PHCL) and become part of a new high school cohort.

Working alongside the Pomona Health Career Ladder program, the Sherman Indian High School students will be known as the American Indian Health Career Ladder.

PHCL is entering its fourth year. Its six biomedical career workshops in 2011-12 begin on Oct. 8, 2011 on WesternU’s Pomona, Calif. campus, and are geared toward middle and high school students from Pomona Unified School District. These students one day hope to become doctors, nurses, physician assistants, physical therapists, veterinarians, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, researchers, and other health professionals.

The new crop of 15-20 students from Sherman Indian High School will be incorporated into the Saturday academy workshops with students who graduated from last year’s program, to become the high school cohort.

Elizabeth Rega, PhD, associate professor, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific at WesternU and Director of Strategic Alliances, said having the Sherman Indian High School students join the high school cohort would make the program inter-cultural.

“”Some of the best and brightest students will be able to have their imaginations stimulated and to have their horizons expanded,”” she said. “”This is a good way for us to do it, integrating them into the current activities.””

Students entering the Pomona Health Career Ladder program generally begin as sixth-graders thanks to a partnership with Pomona Unified School District and California Polytechnic University-Pomona.

Twenty-one students have completed all three years of workshops that they began as sixth-grade academy students in 2008, and will enter the high school cohort for the 2011-12 academic year.

The high school cohort will focus on gaining practical medical skills, teaching and mentoring younger students by creating and conducting a workshop, and skills preparation for science, technology, engineering and math to engage them in PSAT and SAT preparation, said Rega.

“”They are going to be using stethoscopes, reflex hammers and taking blood pressures because we are really trying to prepare them for being a community health ambassador, with the ultimate goal that they will assist in a community health screening event,”” Rega said.

Claremont High School 10th grader Annabel Torres said she loves science, biology and math, and would one day like to become a research scientist. She looks forward to mentoring younger students in the PHCL program as she finishes high school.

“”They (WesternU students and faculty) taught us the basics when we were in sixth grade, basics of the food pyramid and being healthy,”” Torres said. “”I have a solid foundation of knowing what it is. It would be exciting to teach.””

Saturday workshops for the 2011-12 academic year are scheduled from 8:45 a.m. to noon at WesternU’s Health Professions Center, 521 E. Third Street.

Saturday academy for Pomona youth dates are on Oct. 8; Oct. 29; Dec. 3; Feb. 4, 2012; March 10 and April 21.

For more information, visit the Pomona Health Career Ladder website, or contact Terry Diaz de Arce at (909) 469-8239. As many as 60 sixth-graders from Pomona Unified School District can attend the workshops, but applications are required.