Makayla Lail and Stephanie Serrano, seniors at Polk County Early College, were chosen to represent North Carolina as delegates to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, held June 25-27 in Lowell, Mass.

The Academy that hosts the event is an honors-only program for high school students who want to become physicians or go into medical research fields. The purpose of this program is to honor, inspire, motivate and direct the top students in the country who aspire to be physicians or medical scientists, to stay true to their dream and, after the event, to provide a path, plan and resources to help them reach their goal.

During the meetings, the students joined other delegates from across the country to hear Nobel Laureates and National Medal of Science Winners talk about leading medical research, gain advice from Ivy League and top medical school deans on what to expect in medical school and had the chance to hear stories told by patients who are living medical miracles, watch a live surgery and learn about cutting­edge advances in medicine and medical technology.

For Serrano, the most profound experience at this event was having the chance to meet Dr. Zack Shinar, a certified emergency physician at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego, Calif., who has forged new frontiers in the world resuscitation. Shinar discussed how our even our simplest ideas can ultimately give individuals with emotions, families, passions, intelligence and personalities a second chance at life.

Lail most enjoyed speaking with Dr. Rick Sacra, a medical missions physician that contracted the Ebola virus while working in Liberia. It was encouraging to hear from a physician that put his own safety and wellbeing at great risk simply to help others that are less fortunate.