The Many Faces of Gifted: Trevor

By Carole Rosner

Every gifted child has a unique story. The following story is the first in a series of posts highlighting gifted children and adults we have found through IEA programs, depicting the many faces of gifted. IEA’s Apprenticeship Program – mentioned in this story – links gifted high school students from across the country with mentors who advance each participant’s skills through the application of knowledge and exposure to real world experiences.

Trevor was an IEA Apprentice and is now a Resident in Dermatology.

Dr. Trevor Muirhead
IEA Apprentice in 1999
Resident at Henry Ford Hospital, Department of Dermatology, Michigan

Trevor Muirhead didn’t know what he should do the summer before his senior year that would stand out on his high school resume. It was Trevor’s school counselor at Long Beach Polytechnic High School that pitched him the idea of applying to the Institute for Educational Advancement’s brand new Apprenticeship Program.

We introduced our Apprenticeship Program to Southern California high school students with one class in the summer of 1999. Robotics was being mentored by K.G. Engelhardt, a former Manager of Robotics for NASA and Director of the Center for Human Service Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University.

The one week residential session was held at the University of Southern California (USC). The Apprentices worked closely with Dr. Engelhardt to research, design and develop four wheel “service” robots using robotic kits and computer chips.

"Do something you enjoy and enrich your education."In addition to classroom time, the Apprentices visited some scientific and cultural landmarks in Los Angeles. One of the highlights for Trevor was the trip to the MarsYard at JPL in Pasadena. This sandy outdoor environment simulated the Martian landscape and was used to test different robotic prototypes. The Apprentices also visited museums and a local hospital where robots served patients their meals. To mark the end of the class, the Apprentices were given the task of programming their robots to dance in sync with each others’ robots.

Trevor graduated Valedictorian of his high school class in 2000 and went on to spend eight years at USC, completing his undergrad and medical school education there as part of the USC Baccalaureate/M.D. Program. Trevor’s college path enabled him to continue studying in areas he found interesting besides medicine (he double majored in biology and history). Trevor explained that in today’s med schools students are taking majors other than just science. “Do something you enjoy and enrich your education,” he said.

In 2003, he and two other USC undergrads won the top Humanities prize in the school’s Undergraduate Research Symposium (a university-wide scholarly competition) for their recreation of the ancient city of Troy. The team used photography, 3-D graphics, drawings, videos, web links and literature to develop an amazingly realistic replica of Troy that is still available for viewing at www.troyproject.com. Trevor said that in addition to the scholarship money he received by winning this prize, he was invited to visit George Lucas’ Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California. There was also an article written in The New York Times about the Troy Project.

After graduating USC’s Medical School, Trevor interned at Olive View Hospital in Los Angeles in Internal Medicine. After the one year, 80-hour-per-week internship, he moved to Michigan to begin the three year Residency program in Dermatology at Henry Ford Hospital. As a Resident, Trevor works about 50 hours a week and spends a lot of outside work time studying and researching. His Residency involves treating all types of skin ailments including cancers, growths and infections of the hair, skin and nails. After finishing his Residency and passing the National Board Exams in Dermatology, Trevor plans to move back to Southern California and join a private practice later this summer.

“The Apprenticeship Program certainly played a significant role in influencing my education path, not that I pursued Robotics, but it fostered scientific exploration which I applied to other fields,” Trevor said. “Also, the Apprenticeship Program introduced me to USC, and without it I very well may have attended another university which would have likely altered both my career and life paths.”

An interview with Trevor and his classmate about their Troy project is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0qOzjT2BSY.

Does Trevor’s summer experience as an IEA Apprentice sound like something your gifted high school student would enjoy? Applications are currently being accepted for Apprenticeship.  Apply today!

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