A decades long partnership between one of St. Louis' most prestigious universities and the St. Louis public school system is giving high school students a glimpse into the medical field. It’s called Saturday Scholars. It’s a rare opportunity for extraordinary teens.

It’s a Saturday Morning at Washington University and high school seniors fill one an auditorium.

It may be surprising to you that a bunch of 17 and 18 year olds choose to spend their weekend in a classroom. But it isn't just any classroom and the teens are not ordinary students.

"They are thirsting for the next level," said Dr. Will Ross.

Dr. Ross is a professor at Washington University's School of Medicine. He is one of the mentors at the Saturday Scholar's program which started over 30 years ago.

Dr. Ross said, "These are kids who have this passion and this gleam in their eye for a long time and they walk in and they are just delighted to be at this place at Washington University. To be exposed to the history and legacy of teaching and research and they just soak it in. They're like sponges, they're so bright, so smart, they're so eager to learn."

18-year-old Denye Mickens, a senior at Metro, is one of about 50 students handpicked for the five-week program. Mickens has a strict schedule consisting of IB classes and volunteer work. It’s all part of her strategic plan to get to where she knows she wants to be: in a white coat.

She says she knew she wanted to study medicine at a young age when her aunt became sick and she had an urge to make her feel better.

Mickens explained, "When I got older and learned more about the medical field and medical professions that is when I truly decided I wanted to go into the medical field."

Larissa Selimovic Milo is Mickens’ IB Biology teacher.

Milo first met Mickens when she was a freshman. She said, "It was just impressive to me to see somebody so young who already knew what they wanted to do for the rest of their life."

With Saturday Scholars, students with an interest in science and medicine can explore those passions with hands on experience.

"We did hours long of anatomy lectures and then we did interactive cadaver lab experience after that," explained Mickens.

Mickens says this program solidified her career path even more. Getting her closer to her dream of becoming Dr. Mickens.

"At the moment, I hope that everything goes well. I have a pretty strict plan, but you never know what may happen so we'll see," smiled Mickens.


Mickens is well on her way. She's already been accepted to Washington University and is a finalist for the John B. Ervin scholarship.

For more information on how to apply for Saturday Scholars click here.