Pictured above: Dr. Carolyn Williams (left) participates in a hands-on session with S.T.E.A.M.M. day-camp volunteer Jim Keelser, who works at EVMS as a standardized patient.


“Are you OK, sir?” the middle-schooler asked. “Are you OK?” No response. So she launched into chest compressions. 

Fortunately, no lives were at stake. The middle-school student was reviving a manikin-based simulator in a CPR training session held at EVMS during the S.T.E.A.M.M. Day Camps.

The two day camps, held July 13 and July 20, resulted from a partnership between Pharrell Williams’ locally based foundation, From One Hand to AnOTHER (FOHTA), and the M. Foscue Brock Institute for Community and Global Health at EVMS.

S.T.E.A.M.M. stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, math and motivation. A total of 263 underserved elementary-school and middle-school students, identified through FOHTA, attended the two S.T.E.A.M.M. camps at EVMS.

The students were welcomed by several EVMS senior leaders, including the internationally renowned surgeon L.D. Britt, MD, MPH, the Edward J. Brickhouse Chair in Surgery, the Henry Ford Professor of Surgery, and Professor and Chair of Surgery, who grew up in Suffolk. 

Groups of students then rotated through four hands-on sessions: “Broken Bones” with a focus on sports injuries; “Staying Alive,” an overview of CPR training; “Medical Education Simulation,” including the use of ultrasound; and “Amazing Me, Myself & I,” which illustrated the body’s 22 feet of digestive tract, 100 trillion brain synapses and supply of blood vessels that would wrap around the Earth twice. View photos.

“Hands-on activities are so important to learning,” says Carolyn Williams, EdD, Director of Education for FOHTA, chair of its board and mother of Pharrell Williams. “I’m very excited for these kids.”

The sessions were staffed by EVMS volunteers from Emergency Medicine, Pathology and Anatomy, Physiological Sciences, Brickell Medical Sciences Library, and the Sentara Center for Simulation and Immersive Learning at EVMS, as well as by EVMS students. 

“It’s important for these young students to be exposed to as many opportunities as possible,” says Cynthia Romero, MD (MD ’93), an EVMS-Sentara Endowed Chair for Academic Leadership Advancement and Director of the Brock Institute. “To inspire these kids, we have to start from the very early stages of education.”

Richard Homan, MD, President and Provost of EVMS and Dean of the School of Medicine, says the Brock Institute’s new partnership with FOHTA evolved from EVMS’ commitment to the community.

“We hope to inspire these young students so that perhaps one day they will join us as EVMS students,” Dr. Homan says, “to help develop a more diverse healthcare workforce.” 

Dr. Romero hopes the day camps exposed the children to a world they may not otherwise see through their day-to-day activities within their communities. “It’s a privilege for the Brock Institute to participate in this opportunity,” she adds.

Dr. Williams attended the hands-on sessions with the students and was pleased with the outcome. “On behalf of FOHTA and on behalf of Pharrell,” she says, “I look forward to continuing this relationship.”