Having been a judge in this competition for the past few years, and a believer in the value of epidemiology as an important and underused discipline in education, I’m disappointed to see this program, funded by RWJF and run by the College Board, come to an end. For a great perspective on it’s potential – be sure to read David Fraser’s essay “Epidemiology as a Liberal Art“.
The press release announcing the closure of the program has some statistics on the reach and influence it achieved.
The April 2011 Young Epidemiology Scholars (YES) Competition in Washington, D.C., was the eighth and final YES Competition. YES was launched in 2003 by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the College Board to encourage high school students nationwide to apply epidemiological methods to the investigation of public health issues and inspire the brightest young minds to enter the field of public health. Nearly 5,000 students from all 50 states have participated in the YES Competition, which has awarded $3.7 million in college scholarships to 976 students, including this year’s participants. YES has been successful in inspiring student interest in and understanding of public health and epidemiology: 75 percent of YES Regional Finalists who have declared an undergraduate major are pursuing a health and/or science related major.
For me, YES was also about an annual trip to DC, to meet with a fantastic group of scientists from universities and public health. We all brought high expectations but more often we sat together in respect and satisfaction at great work.