FARMINGTON — A Rocinante High School student whose father's cancer diagnosis inspired her to pursue a career in medicine will travel to Washington, DC., as part of an honors-level medical conference.
Sophomore Sesha Bean will attend the Congress of Future Medical Leaders in February at the nation's capitol.
The event is an honors-only program for high school students interested in becoming physicians or goings into medical research fields.
Bean was nominated to represent New Mexico at the three-day conference because of her academic achievement, leadership potential and determination to serve humanity in the field of medicine, according to a press release.
She was nominated by Dr. Connie Mariano, the medical director of the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists.
Rocinante High School math teacher Jonathan Ives said paperwork about the conference came across his desk the same day he overheard Bean say she wanted to be a biomedical engineer.
"I was thinking, 'Wow. That's one of the neatest things I've heard a kid say,'" Ives said.
Bean said she wants to go into the medical field, most likely as a biomedical engineer specializing in synthetic organs. She came to that conclusion after her father, Joe Bean, was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
"I looked into it, and I thought, 'I want to do something like that in medicine,'" Sesha Bean said.
During her father's seven stomach surgeries, Sesha Bean would often be at his bedside, helping in any way possible.
"She was like my little nurse," Joe Bean said. "When I had my surgeries, she would stay with me and hold my hand. When I was getting shots or getting tubes put in or taken out, she was always there for me."
Sesha Bean said she was nervous about going to the conference until she spoke with other students about the workshops and the internationally-renowned doctors.
"It's amazing, all these people share the same passion for what I'm going to do," she said. "I think it's a great opportunity, and I'm excited to go."
Along with lectures about various medical topics, students at the conference will watch a surgery to remove a tumor via a video conference system. During the live surgery, students can ask questions about the operation in real time.
As for her future plans, Sesha Bean has already taken a tour of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo., which has one of the few programs in the country dedicated to biomedical engineering.
But she isn't 100 percent sure if that's the field she'll go into.
"Biomedical engineering is something I really, really want to do, but I've always been looking into pediatric oncology," she said.