PLTW Biomedical Science: Best Decision Ever

Alexis Conley is a 16-year-old senior at Wayne High School in West Virginia. She is a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist and is also active in BETA Club, Fourth Avenue Arts Company, West Virginia Governor's Honors Academy, National Honor Society, and student government. While her college choice is still undecided, she fully intends to major in biomedical science.

Before I turned 16 in August, I had already earned $100,000.

Along with my classmates in the PLTW Biomedical Science program at Wayne High School, I wrote a grant requesting this funding to continue our pilot program, which began in 2016. As the first PLTW Biomedical Science course in West Virginia, it was up to us to set the standard for the entirety of the state.

During my junior year, I was successful in the first of the four courses. This year I will take the remaining three classes and become the first female completer of the program in West Virginia. I, alongside two of my male peers, will be the only three students in the state to complete the PLTW Biomedical Science program.

We will be able to graduate this May as completers due to the monetary support we received from the West Virginia Department of Education after composing and presenting our grant. Without the support of the state, the county, and the school, the program would not have the ability to continue and thrive.

Before I started the PLTW program, I was unsure about what I wanted to pursue after high school. I knew I was interested in the sciences, but I was uncertain about where I wanted to go from there. Through experimentation in different scientific areas of study, I developed an interest for research in the biomedical field. I find learning about advancements in medicine and the mechanisms of the human body infinitely interesting because our understanding of these topics is constantly evolving and becoming more refined.

In my PLTW courses, I am always challenged to obtain a deeper understanding, to answer questions with a more detailed explanation, and to think more critically about problems as they are presented in the classroom and in the real world. My biomedical courses include labs that students are normally not exposed to until well into their post-secondary educational career. I feel well-prepared to pursue a degree in biomedical science because I have gained confidence in the skills and topics that I will study during college.

In addition to becoming equipped for college courses, PLTW Biomedical Science is preparing me to enter a workplace environment with the skills necessary to succeed and thrive. The Wayne High School PLTW Biomedical Science class follows the West Virginia Career and Technical Education (CTE) Simulated Workplace program, which entails each student interviewing with an advisory committee for a position within the class. Our committee consists of the principal, the director of CTE, a local pharmacist, and a medical doctor.

I interviewed for and earned the title of project manager, a job that involves working directly under the teacher/supervisor in a managerial capacity. In this role, I am responsible for supervising my classmates during labs I set up, organizing and cleaning our laboratory, directing weekly company meetings, and generally assisting the principal, teacher, and students in any way I am able. This position has helped to further my abilities as a leader and understand the minutiae of performing within a workplace setting.

Taking the PLTW Biomedical Science classes was the best decision I have made in my educational career. This program has prepared me with knowledge, confidence, understanding, and ability to work to my fullest potential and thrive in a post-secondary educational – and ultimately, workplace – atmosphere. I have grown as a person and a student alike; piloting this program has been incredibly beneficial for me, and I would not trade this program, my teacher, my classmates, or my experiences for the world.

PLTW’s blog is intended to serve as a forum for ideas and perspectives from across our network. The opinions expressed are those of each guest author.