Keynote speaker Clay E. Simpson Jr., an official from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that while the number of minority students who applied to U.S. medical schools increased in 1996, fewer were admitted than in 1995.
Simpson urged the students to continue to persevere and to follow the path into health service careers.
An eclectic blend of musical guests promoted the festive atmosphere permeating the ceremony. Spanish guitar players strummed alongside a Native American drummer; a mariachi band, a jazz trio, a traditional Chinese dance troupe and a Native American hoop dance rounded out the parade of styles.
Afterward, students presented posters detailing their eight weeks of work.
Students chose from a wide range of research topics and were assigned to a researcher based on their preferences.
Youa Yang, a 16-year-old from St. Paul, worked in the ecology department studying flight endurance in monarch butterflies. Yang will be a junior next year at Como Park High School.
Yang said she was interested to see how mating affected flight endurance in female butterflies. During copulation, males transfer a sperm cell that represents more than 10 percent of their total body mass.
Before beginning the research, Yang said she knew little about monarch butterflies.
“I see them around but I learned a lot about them in the short eight weeks,” she said.
Hoa Pham from Spring Lake Park, Minn., worked with a researcher in the Department of Horticultural Science. He studied the effect of heat stress on golf course grass.
Pham, 17, said he would definitely recommend the research experience to others.