Originally created 07/24/99

Program at MCG a family tradition



It must have seemed inevitable that Juree Taylor would come to Medical College of Georgia for its intensive summer program -- everyone else in her family had.

Her father, Dr. Samuel Taylor, went through it in 1972; and her sister, Jerthitia and brother, Samuel, came through in more recent years. Juree, 16, a rising senior at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, took her turn this year in the Student Educational Enrichment and Research Apprentice Program, one of 82 students this summer.

MCG officials say the program helps them with recruiting minority students and is helping to boost minority enrollment, which has come under fire as insufficient in recent years.

Because students often return to their hometowns, the school is also helping underserved areas, said Wilma Sykes-Brown, associate administrative director of educational enrichment programs at MCG.

In keeping with the Taylor family's follow-the-leader pattern, Jerthitia and Samuel are both going to medical school in the fall and are planning to one day assume their father's OB/GYN practice in Valdosta.

Juree said she will not be far behind in joining them.

Dr. Taylor credits the summer program with helping him get started.

"It confirmed for me that this was what I wanted to do," Dr. Taylor said. It also gave him contacts at the school and gave him a good idea of what was ahead.

For daughter Jerthitia, 24, now entering her second year of medical school at MCG, it was a head start.

"I gained some discipline and it really just oriented me to what to expect in medical school," she said. "It taught me how to write a paper, a research paper and showed me just the little aspects of what to expect. You get to see how hard it is to get to that part."

Samuel Taylor IV, 22, who will enter medical school in the fall at Howard University, also applied what he learned from the summer program to college.

"I did better in my undergraduate work because I went to (the program)," he said. "It made me want to be a doctor more because I enjoyed what I was doing."

Juree is learning the same lesson in the exacting work of genetic testing at the DNA Laboratory at MCG's Sickle Cell Center.

Working under Dr. Ferdane Kutlar, the lab's director, she completed a project identifying two genetic defects in the same child's blood that is contributing to a milder form of anemia.

"One little drop, if the pH is off..." Juree said.

"You don't get DNA out of it," Dr. Kutlar said.

It convinced her she wants to go to MCG, and confirmed for Dr. Kutlar there is a benefit from students like Juree.

"When you see somebody eager to learn, it's stimulating to us, too, Dr. Kutlar said. "It brings a freshness around here."

Tom Corwin covers science and medicine for The Augusta Chronicle. He can be reached at (706) 823-3213 or tomc@augustachronicle.com