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July 3, 2013

ULM embarks on second year of President's Academy with new "pandemic"

High-ability high school juniors and seniors will set off to the University of Louisiana at Monroe for the second year of President's Academy July 7-12.

Participants will choose one of the four exclusive externships offered by companies that have partnered with ULM on this endeavor.

The knowledge students will gain during their externships will help them respond to this year's fictional "pandemic."

"When we visited companies like CenturyLink last year, they said that they were looking for people who could work in teams to solve complex problems," said President's Academy Coordinator, Lynn Clark.

"We created the pandemic as a way for our students to not only apply what they learn in the externships and the lab, but to also ensure that they share their knowledge with their team—no one person has all the answers."

The pandemic allows students to work as a team of specialists in their individual field to apply the information they have acquired throughout their externships to a theoretical, but realistic, crisis.

This year's pandemic involves a mystery disease, which appears at a local hospital and threatens to become a worldwide epidemic.

Depending on their career path, students will be charged with developing a drug that can treat the disease, while controlling the flow of information to avoid panic and protect the legal rights of individuals.

After tremendous success with the inaugural President's Academy, the program has garnered a new partner, law firm Escamilla & Poneck LLP, to complement the already prestigious partners: CenturyLink, ANGUS Chemical, and LSU Health Sciences Center/EA Conway Medical Center.

Of the new partner, ULM President Dr. Nick J. Bruno said, "The purpose of the academy is to provide students with experiences beyond the classroom that will help prepare them for college and the job market. This new concentration is indicative of what the academy strives to accomplish."

All four partners provide externs with hands-on experience in an array of professional fields from business to the sciences, inciting the interest of sought-after high school students.

Joseph Landry II of Loreauville believes his experience in last year's President's Academy was beneficial because "It wasn't just a tour…We felt like we were part of the company because we got to see and do things that only the staff see and do."

While the first year of the President's Academy focused on science and technology degrees, this year's students interested in pre-law have an opportunity to extern with the prominent Escamilla & Poneck LLP.

This will enable students to work closely with the ULM College of Business to enhance their research abilities while obtaining first-hand experience in the judicial world they will enter upon completion of their college degrees.

This externship will supply academy externs with a genuine experience in drafting legal documents and the indispensable ability to analyze legal proceedings.

Externships with CenturyLink—the third largest telecommunications company in the United States—provide opportunities to engage in the corporate world of cutting-edge technology while also learning the basics of computer programming.

ANGUS Chemical, a subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company, offers academy externs a chance to work alongside chemical engineers to discover how drugs are synthesized, developed and tested for purity.

An externship with ANGUS provides students the chance to absorb pertinent knowledge and skills in the world's only company devoted to nitroalkanes.

In the health sciences career path, ULM's nursing faculty and pharmacy faculty work alongside medical professionals from E.A. Conway Medical Center to prepare students for the various situations they will encounter on a day-to-day basis in the medical field

Aside from shadowing medical professionals as they identify and treat diverse disease states, academy externs will practice what they learn in ULM's laboratories.

Students will also conduct research in their chosen field, and learn the Latin behind science and legal terms. This year, students will be part of a seminar examining the Ethics behind medical research using the book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Musical performances supplied by ULM's School of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), and working dinners hosted by ULM's Career Connections, will teach students the "soft skills" relevant to every professional sector.

The President's Academy aims to invigorate the desire for learning within high-ability students by providing them with on-site experience in Fortune 500 companies.

Not only will participants receive invaluable knowledge and professional skills, but they will also earn one college credit.

One-hundred percent of the 2012 participants' parents said they would recommend the President's Academy to a friend or colleague, and 93 percent of the participants in the inaugural President's Academy who were surveyed said they would recommend the faculty and facilities of ULM to a friend or family member.

Quinn Glaze, a participant in last year's President's Academy and ULM incoming freshman for fall 2013, exclaimed, "It was a wonderful experience, I can't emphasize that enough. It's really surprising how hands-on the [President's Academy] was and I'd love to do it again; I'd do it in a heartbeat."

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