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News | Feb. 18, 2022

Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune revives STEM outreach with local area schools

By Michelle Cornell

After an 18-month pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune is reviving their STEM outreach with local area schools. On February 16, anatomy and physiology students at Lejeune High School aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune got a close-up look at what a heartbeat looks like during an echocardiogram presentation from NMCCL staff.

The nationwide STEM initiative, which stands for “science, technology, engineering, and math” is strongly supported and encouraged by the Department of Defense. The presentations from NMCCL staff members help to bring an in-person approach to the initiative.

“This event is a great opportunity for my kids [students] to see an application of what they are learning and how it applies within different jobs in the community,” said Ms. LeAnn Mastropasqua, teacher and STEM Coordinator for Lejeune High School. “I enjoy when the doctors and medical professionals come in; the interaction is a great hands-on experience for them.”

NMCCL staff are just as eager to continue the STEM program. They work very closely with school facilitators to determine how resources can enhance educational objectives.

“I think it is very important that NMCCL reaches out to area schools because we have a wealth of knowledge and resources. Being in rural NC, we can introduce students to more high tech fields that some may not have seen or had prior interest in before,” explains U.S. Navy Lieutenant Adam Rondina, STEM co-coordinator for NMCCL. “I network with the faculty and follow their syllabus to bring in instructors and demonstrations for each topic they are talking about.”

Wednesday’s guest speaker was U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Michael Feroli, Navy Physician Assistant and Battalion Surgeon for Combat Logistic Battalion 22 who spoke about echocardiograms and electrocardiogram, or EKG, which aligned with the students’ recent school lessons about the cardiovascular system.

Prior to the pandemic the NMCCL STEM program featured biannual STEM Fairs in which interested schools within the DODEA school system would participate. NMCCL and Lejeune coordinators are hopeful they can grow the program again.

Thomas Castello, a junior at Lejeune High School remembers the previous STEM fairs at the Medical Center and hopes to be able to do this again.
“I love this class; I want to be a doctor so this class is really enjoyable. The stem program gives me hands-on practical application. You get to see how everything we learn is employed in the everyday world,” Castello said. “We’ve seen a cast and splints put on by orthopedics, we’ve talked to an anesthesiologist, and we have even done ultrasounds, which was really great. Seeing the different jobs is really beneficial.”

Area schools interested in a STEM partnership with NMCCL, can contact the NMCCL Public Affairs Office at (910) 450-4689.
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