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ֱ Middle Schooler Selected for Prestigious STEM Program, Eyes Future as Trauma Physician

Almeria Middle School student MaiKaley

FONTANA, CA – It is no secret where MaiKaley Orosco’s passion lies, as the Almeria Middle School student walks into class carrying a box stocked with a lab coat, microscope, and a binder filled with science experiments.

With her sixth-grade year ending, Orosco has mapped out a 12-year plan to become a trauma physician. She is already diligently working toward her goal, which has not gone unnoticed.

MaiKaley Orosco, a sixth grader at Almeria Middle School

Orosco is one of 32 middle school students across the country who was selected to attend the Joint Science and Technology Institute East for Middle School Students (JSTI East – MS), a one-week, fully-funded residential science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) research program in Maryland this summer.

“I was really surprised when I got the email and I was accepted,” Orosco said. “I am hoping to gain knowledge to help me move forward as a student and go toward my ultimate goal of becoming a trauma physician.”

A passion for STEM and healthcare runs in Orosco’s family; her grandmother was an orthopedic medical assistant nurse, and her mother is currently pre-med and majored in healthcare administration and psychology at USC. Orosco credits her mother for inspiring her to follow in her footsteps. 

JSTI East – MS is sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency within the U.S. Department of Defense and aims to inspire students to become lifelong STEM learners by giving them a chance to solve and complete STEM challenges and projects on small teams to develop problem-solving and collaboration skills.

Orosco applied for JSTI East – MS in January, was selected in April, and will attend the program in July. She will fit the program around her summer plans, which include athletic training in volleyball, tennis, and rowing and her annual re-memorization of all the human organs and bones in preparation for the upcoming school year.

Almeria Middle Schooler MaiKaley Orosco’s

“MaiKaley is very organized, very detailed, very driven, very focused, and extremely intelligent. She does everything at 150%. I wish I had a full class like her, she is just awesome,” Almeria Middle School honors English and social studies teacher Stacey Weiner said of Orosco, who is also enrolled in honors math and band at school. “I am hoping JSTI continues to fuel her love for learning by giving her a glimpse into what her future would look like and an opportunity to build friendships with students who have a similar drive to hers.”

This summer, Orosco will be placed in JSTI’s medical science track in alignment with her professional goal and 12-year plan, which includes her attending the USC Keck School of Medicine to major in medical science, organic chemistry, and human biology.

“I do all of these activities because it all lines up to build the foundation of what will be my future medical career,” Orosco said. “Sustainable and equitable healthcare is very hard to find nowadays, so I want to work toward improving lives and making healthcare more sustainable and equitable.”