Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hooper: Fueling dreams and enhancing aspirations

Leah Coleman's dreams of becoming a pharmacist were fueled by watching her mother and sister buy asthma medicine.

She wondered how a little pill could make such a big difference.

Josie Little called her dad one day and asked him to bring home Freud's The Interpretation Of Dreams.

Now she longs to become a psychiatrist.

Erin Ravenel once fancied an athletic career, but after being diagnosed with Marfan syndrome, a connective tissue condition, she sought a new path.

She sees nursing in her future.

Do these high school students know what it takes to reach these lofty goals? Dreams have to be nurtured with preparation and encouragement. Faith without works is dead.

Tampa physician Dexter Frederick knows all too well the importance of enhancing aspirations. In his own life, people helped support his dreams of being a doctor, so now he looks to give back in a meaningful way with a unique program: Brain Expansion Scholastic Training, or B.E.S.T.

Operating out of East Tampa, the not-for-profit aims to uplift and mentor underrepresented youth who aspire to be health professionals.

"A lot of them have the dreams and they have the aspirations, but they may never have had or seen a family member who knows what it takes," Frederick said. "So No. 1, we want to show them what it takes. No. 2, we want to inspire them and keep that inspiration going."

The year-round program, which has grown to include more than 50 middle and high school students, works to provide information about health careers, sharpen memorization skills and heighten critical thinking through chess.

A special summer program went even further during the last seven weeks.

Participants received college preparedness lessons through Know How 2 Go Tampa Bay and business acumen from a WEDU program called Biz Kids. It also provided lessons on nutrition, anatomy and dissections while touring health care facilities and going on fun field trips.

If it sounds like a lot, well, that's the point. Frederick likes to say no wasted time, talent or information.

Area Health Education Centers and the University of South Florida College of Medicine facilitate the brain expansion as two of the top sponsors. USF's participation is particularly noteworthy because students volunteer to help tutor and mentor the kids. Frederick calls it a win-win.

"The kids need to see someone who is in college, where they will be someday," Frederick said. "The USF students need to see the need in the field and the need to be sensitive to the fact that there are disparities."

On Tuesday, B.E.S.T. held its summer graduation along with Total Package, a similar program that combines science with sports. The enthusiasm of the kids peppered the ceremony and their presentations.

Coleman explained she knows now that pharmacists work in more than just CVS and Walgreens, Little can tell you exactly how many years it takes to become a psychiatrist, and Ravenel has upgraded her aspirations from nurse to nurse anesthetist.

Lofty dreams now have been infused with practical knowledge and real hope.

That's all I'm saying.

Hooper: Fueling dreams and enhancing aspirations 08/14/09 [Last modified: Friday, August 14, 2009 8:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.