Featured Testimonial About Creighton University
It’s clear that this program is doing exactly what it sets out to do every year: opening students’ eyes to new potential paths in health care. I could see that investing in this program was just the right thing to do.
One week at a health sciences summer camp for high schoolers changed Julia Jackman’s life.
At the Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute — now hosted each summer by Creighton University Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix and Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions — Jackman and dozens of other campers from across the country immersed themselves in the hands-on, everyday realities of multiple health care career pathways.
They sutured, injected, intubated and placed IV lines into mannikins. They interviewed and examined standardized patient actors. They researched genetic disorders and presented their findings to a panel of experts. They met and networked with physicians and nurses, PTs, OTs and physician assistants, professors, professional students and each other.
“At camp, we got to see what life might look like for us a couple of years down the road,” says Jackman, who at the time of the 2016 camp was an incoming senior at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Arizona. “That was what drew me there in the first place: the opportunity to get the exposure to so many different facets of what my future could be.”
Seven years later, Jackman is a graduate of Arizona State University, with degrees in biochemistry and global health, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, with a master’s degree in global health. (She earned the latter degree as a Fulbright Scholar.)
During that time, she provided health care education workshops to refugee communities in Maricopa County, investigated COVID cases through ASU’s Applied Infectious Disease Epidemiology Research Team and promoted equity in child health care through the Centre for Global Health Inequalities Research in Norway.
In 2019, she returned to the Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute itself, this time as a camp counselor. It only felt right, she says, giving back to the program that kickstarted everything for her.
“It made such a huge difference in my career,” Jackman says. “And I’m so excited and grateful to hear that now even more students will get this opportunity.”
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Thanks to a recent gift from the Burton Family Foundation, the program will double its enrollment from 48 to 96 students for the next three years, with the possibility for continued funding later. (This past summer’s camp had 168 applicants.)
In July, Burton Family Foundation co-founder and board chair Christy Burton and CEO Glenn Wike visited this year’s camp, where, they said, they found a program investing in young people, taking action against a statewide health care workforce shortage and serving the future of Maricopa County and the surrounding rural areas.
“I was so excited to see the work and enthusiasm of the learners and the teachers,” Burton says. “The students are receiving such a broad range of exposure to professions vital to the wellbeing of our communities.”
The students themselves solidified Burton’s support of the program. They told her what the opportunity meant and how it introduced them to different careers, fields and futures.
“It’s clear that this program is doing exactly what it sets out to do every year: opening students’ eyes to new potential paths in health care,” Burton says. “I could see that investing in this program was just the right thing to do.”
Every summer for the past decade, the program has invited students from across the nation to spend a week at Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus. Campers now also conduct interactive activities three hours each day at the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust Health Sciences Building, home of the Creighton University Health Sciences Campus – Phoenix.
The only cost for students is travel to and from the camp. The Burton Family Foundation’s gift ensures that will remain the case, says Nate Wade, PhD, Assistant Vice President of Operations for ASU Health, assistant research professor for the College of Health Solutions and the creator of the Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute.
Some past camp alumni, Wade says, didn’t even think college was possible before participating in the program.
“It is truly rewarding,” he says, “to know how positive of an impact the camp has had on the personal and professional journeys of so many participants.”
Participants like Brooke Horne, a senior at Blue Ridge High School in Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona, who took part in the 2023 camp and found the experience invaluable.
“After attending camp,” she says, “I feel determined and excited to pursue a future in the medical field.”
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Students in the Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Nearly half are the first in their families to pursue higher education. Many are eligible for Pell Grants.
“The program’s focus is on students whose parents didn’t graduate from college or who come from communities traditionally underrepresented in medicine,” says Jaya Raj, MD, Assistant Dean of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging with Creighton’s School of Medicine.
The goal, ultimately, is to build a more representative health care workforce.
For the camp’s Creighton campus portion, professors, current Creighton students and past program participants serve as camp counselors, increasing the diversity of educators. It can be inspiring to students, Raj says, to see people who look like them or who have had similar experiences now working in health care.
“The program helps students feel like this is something they can achieve. It helps them envision a future in which they are a physician, nurse, physical or occupational therapist, physician assistant or another health care professional.”
Many past campers have made that vision a reality. Over the program's first four years, 96.9% of Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute participants went on to enroll in college. Most enrolled in four-year institutions, including seven of the top 20 institutions ranked in U.S. News and World Report’s Best National Universities.
Early participants of the Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute are now graduating college, applying for medical school and embarking on exciting careers. One graduate, for instance, is working with Maricopa County in the Office of the Medical Examiner. Another former participant is now a practicing physician assistant in bone marrow transplant at Children’s Hospital Colorado.
“With the Burton Family Foundation’s gift, now even more students will have this opportunity to start a career caring for others,” Raj says.
The Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute’s growth, she says, serves not only the campers but every person they will go on to serve — in Maricopa County, in Arizona and beyond.
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Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute 2016 alumna Julia Jackman is thriving.
She is a Global Research Associate for the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Soon, she will head to Nigeria for a year-long research fellowship at a cancer hospital.
After that, she will attend medical school, hoping to merge her passions for clinical care and research into a career that addresses global health disparities.
So much has happened in the past seven years. Jackman has traveled the world, earned multiple degrees, and worked and learned alongside scores of mentors and peers. Yet no matter how much time passes and how much experience she gains, all roads lead back to her week at camp.
“I was only 17 years old at the time,” Jackman says. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, and the program gave me the skills I needed to start on the right foot in college. That experience continues to shape my trajectory today.
“I will always be grateful, from the bottom of my heart, for the Burton Family Foundation Summer Health Institute. Because it showed me what’s possible.”