Julie Tam, NBCDFW.com
Southern Methodist University is grooming 80 future scientists and doctors, and they're all from minority groups that are underrepresented in those professions.
A summer camp at Southern Methodist University in Dallas is grooming 80 future scientists and doctors from minority groups under-represented in those fields.
A study by the National Academy of Sciences found that among college students, only about 3 percent of African-Americans, Hispanics, or Native Americans major in science or math. The Physician Scientist Training Program (STEMPREP) is trying to increase those numbers by starting with middle schoolers.
Seventh and eighth grade students are spending six weeks living and studying on campus at SMU, under the direction of former hand surgeon Dr. Charles Knibb.
"Everyone was born to do something, so I'm guessing that here is what I was born to do," said Bryant Lozano, saying he was born to be a scientist.
The Richland Hills 8th grader and the other middle schoolers are getting hands-on training in the lab and making presentations.
Ayodele Aigbe fell in love with science, she said, because her teachers made it fun and she's hoping to set an example for other minorities who are rarely seen in science or medicine.
"All of us coming here can really show the world that we've actually got something and we're here to bring a purpose, that we're here to bring something," said the Irving 8th grader.
The program goes beyond just this summer. Students who maintain good grades can re-apply in high school and college and even get an internship with the National Institutes of Health.
"They've already been through a 2-year rigorous training in an academic field and they know that no matter what, no matter how hard it gets, they can succeed," said Dr. Knibb, who is also a minority physician.
If Lozano continues down this path, he will be the first in his family to pursue a career in science. He, too, wants to be a role model, and he puts it very scientifically.
"If I can do it, then all of them can do it 'cause it's all in our genetics," he said.
The program provides scholarships to students whose families cannot afford to pay. One-hundred percent of the students who have stayed with it until college graduated, and almost all of them majored in sciences.