School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

SOM students mentor Detroit schoolchildren

Students in the PULSE Academy can learn chess, take dance classes and receive tutoring in academic subjects from School of Medicine students.

Students in the PULSE Academy can learn chess, take dance classes and receive tutoring in academic subjects from School of Medicine students.

Wayne State University School of Medicine students have banded together to launch a cultural and academic academy for middle and high school students of Detroit.

The Promoting Uplift to Lives of Success and Empowerment (PULSE) Enrichment Academy meets two Saturdays of each month from August to April, bringing Detroit students onto the School of Medicine campus to be taught a variety of cultural and academic subjects by SOM medical students.

The academy, the brainchild of second-year medical students Letacia Sims, Cecelia Calhoun and Dakisha Felder, was established with a Widening the Pipeline Program grant from the School of Medicine’s chapter of the American Medical Student Association. Many of the students volunteering as teachers and tutors are members of the Wayne State University School of Medicine chapter of the Black Medical Association/Student National Medical Association. Ms.Sims, Ms. Calhoun and Ms. Felder are community service chairpersons for the SNMA.

“We saw a need for this type of programming,” said Ms. Sims, a native of Georgia who wants to practice pediatric medicine. “Kids need to expand their horizons in academics and culture. SOM students need volunteer hours, and the children of Detroit need the help, so it’s mutually beneficial. We get to give back to the community.”

The academy’s goals are to promote educational advancement in seventh- through 10th-graders, improve the awareness and health status of youth, and to ensure a future for creative outlets beyond secondary schooling for Detroit students.

The academy meets at the School of Medicine’s Scott Hall two Saturdays a month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In addition to three one-hour classes, participants receive a breakfast snack, and free transportation to the site. Classes range from dance to the exploration of Japanese culture. Tutoring in classroom work and homework assistance, as well as ACT and SAT test preparation, is provided by SOM students volunteering in the academy. For middle school students, tutors assist with Michigan Education Assessment Program test-style questions.

Thirty SOM students now serve as volunteer teachers in the academy. Volunteers rotate based on the subject matter to be taught on upcoming Saturdays. There are 47 students taking classes in the academy. Ms. Feldman said the academy can accept more students.

The Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotions Bureau of Substance Abuse Prevention, Detroit Recovery Project and Helping Hands provide van transportation for the academy students from three pickup and drop-off locations.

 The academy is open to any middle or high school student in the Detroit area. To participate, students must either find their way to one of the designated pickup points for provided transportation, or a parent must provide individual transportation to Scott Hall.

While the School of Medicine has donated space and supplies to the academy, Ms. Sims said the SNMA continues to seek monetary and supply donations from individuals and businesses.

For more information about the academy, or to make a donation to support the project, call (248) 943-8835, or email or

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