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School district partners with Avalon University

To offer program that can jump start students’ medical careers

May 4, 2017
By J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

Canfield Local School District has a new program in place that can help jump start students' medical careers

The district is partnering with Avalon University School of Medicine, a private medical school in Willemstad, Curacao, to offer students a college credit program that is specific and meets individual students' goals.

"If you look at student surveys as to what field our kids want to enter, the medical field is at the top," Canfield Local Schools Superintendent Alex Geordan said.

With that in mind, and the fact Canfield High School has strong advanced placement and College Credit Plus programs in place, it only made sense to be able to offer courses that are required in the medical field.

It all came about after a visit by Dr. Robert J. Debiec, M.D., director of student affairs at Avalon University, located on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Curacao off the coast of Venezuela.

"He came to Canfield to recruit students, and we started talking about expanding the curriculum," Canfield Director of Curriculum and Instruction John Tullio said. "He knows the quality of education in Canfield and he went back to Avalon University and worked on a new program."

Debiec is no stranger to Canfield. Being a CHS gradate, he has seen the school district's curriculum consistently moving forward.

"They are constantly adding more rigorous coursework and providing opportunities to the students to advance their academic standing," he said. "I am very proud of the accomplishments of my class and all the other classes that I have seen graduate since then. These students are certainly on top of their game."

He knows the AP and College Credit Plus programs offered at Canfield means a student has to really work hard to succeed. Combine that with the number of students looking at a medical career, and the time was ripe for a new program.

Tullio and Debiec were able to work together to offer the AUSOM-Cardinal Pathway Program, which would allow qualifying students to adopt a rigorous schedule to earn course credits that eventually could be transferred to AUSOM after graduation.

Tullio said students could begin the program as early as their freshmen year.

Financially, the new program would potentially save a student up to $20,000 when pursuing a five-year degree in medicine. That savings would come from the transfer of credits earned in the AUSOM program and the work, room and board that it would take to earn those credits.

"This is the first joint effort that Avalon University has made with any high school program," Debiec said. "We have agreements with undergraduate programs, but this is the first high school program."

Debiec said the Canfield program will likely serve as a model to expand into other high schools across the nation.

"The AUSOM-Cardinal Pathway Program is definitely a model to follow," he said. "The quality of students from Canfield, due to the extraordinary talents of the faculty and administration, has made such a collaboration possible. We are open to working with other high schools to form a program unique to that individual school. But I must give credit to Canfield for being top notch and making this program such a great fit."

Tullio said he is excited to be able to offer the AUSOM program for Canfield students who are willing to take on such a rigorous schedule. He also is pleased to serve as a role model for this venture.

Debiec said he's proud to kick off the program at his alma mater.

"For any Canfield student who is looking for an opportunity to go into medical school in a more affordable fashion, I encourage them to look at the program that we at Avalon University and the Canfield administration have put together," Debiec said.



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