Jake Dunn, an avid soccer player and standout striker on the Lincoln County High School soccer team, is always on the move kicking around a soccer ball and having fun while doing it.
But not anymore — at least not right now.
Dunn, who has always used his head to direct the soccer ball accurately and consistently, is taking a temporary break from the sport to focus his mind on his future by participating in the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine (NYLF/MED).
The 16-year-old LCHS junior is one of hundreds of high school scholars chosen from around the globe that have demonstrated academic excellence (GPA of 3.7-above), leadership potential and an interest in a career in medicine.
“I want to be a brain surgeon,” said Dunn. “I’ve always been interested in medicine and I just think brain surgery would be exciting.”
Dunn, the son of Mack and Kim Dunn of Crab Orchard, has medical doctors in his family but he would be the first brain surgeon.
“There are a couple doctors in my family, and I guess that’s helped start my interest in medicine, but there are no surgeons,” he said. “I know being a brain surgeon is complicated work but it really caught my attention.”
The 10-day summer forums are being held in 10 cities across the United States — Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Raleigh-Durham, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — and will introduce students to a variety of concepts in public health, medical ethics, research and general practice.
“I’m very excited,” Dunn said. “There will be a lot of doctors and surgeons there in many different fields to give us different perspectives on medical careers.”
Dunn, who was nominated for selection to the Forum by Kara Muse, his AP Biology teacher, will not just be sitting and listening to medical professionals during his 10-day stay. No, the NYLF/MED is designed to allow scholars to interact with leaders within the medical field.
The Forum includes site visits to medical facilities and clinics and problem-based learning where scholars will be presented with a fictional patient’s case history and must diagnose and develop a treatment plan for the patient.
“That’s what makes it so exciting, that we get to actively follow the doctors,” said Dunn. “I will get to watch a live surgery and go with doctors as they make their rounds to patients.”
Dunn, who left for his NYLF/MED session on Sunday, was asked to prioritize which city forum he would prefer to attend after his selection, and Boston was his top pick.
And he got it.
“Boston was the city I wanted and I’m glad I got it,” Dunn said. “I’ve never been there before, so that’s exciting. But the main reason I chose it was because a couple schools that I’m interested in are there — Babson College and Harvard. We’re actually staying on the Babson College campus.”
Dunn was also excited that, while he still has two years to go before he enters college, he’ll get a jump start on college credits through the Forum.
“I’m getting two college credits for this,” he said. “This will give me a jump start on college and it should also help me when I apply to colleges.”
While Dunn was looking forward to his trip to Boston and the medical forum, he did voice some apprehension.
“I’m excited about the trip but I’m also a little nervous about it because it’s the first time I’ve flown alone, and it’s the farthest I’ve gone from home by myself,” he said.