Recognizing that cutting edge information on environmental health was not included in high school curricula on Long Island, the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition (GNBCC) founded and created the Students & Scientists Breast Cancer/Environment Research Program in 2005.
After attending a number of breast cancer/environment conferences, reading dozens of books and articles and speaking in depth to researchers, we felt it was critical that young people in the next generation learn about the connection between environment and breast health so that they could begin to protect themselves from toxic exposures and educate their peers and members of their community.
This educational program provides high school students with experience working with world-renowned environmental and breast cancer researchers while they learn sophisticated laboratory procedures in a state-of-the-art lab. During this hands-on experience the students learn that ubiquitous toxic exposures are not only creating havoc in our environment, but are also contributing to chronic diseases, including cancer, learning disabilities and neurological diseases. To date, GNBCC has provided 52 high school internships at 10 different laboratories in the Northeast.
Of particular importance to GNBCC is improving the quality of human health. To have the largest impact, this initiative includes expansion by assisting other coalitions to create a student program. In 2007, GNBCC assisted the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition (HBCAC) through the development of their program which has since sponsored 25 students at laboratories in the Northeast. We are grateful to HBCAC for connecting our students to the BCERC Conferences which enhanced our program.
The Students & Scientists internship program strengthens scientific literacy while nurturing young men’s and women’s interests in environmental health and breast cancer prevention. Students become the next generation of scientists and protectors of public health and our environment. Many participating students have expressed that our program has changed the direction of their career choices and their lives.