Nursing student Jasmine Sharifi demonstrated how to peel open a sterile pack of swabs and flip them forward onto a mat.

“You’re trying to flip them into your sterile field without crossing over it,” she explained, adding, “the first time I did it they flew across the sterile field and hit my partner.” 

About 10 students from Oroville Middle-High School and Tonasket High School practiced the flipping technique with various objects, then worked with IVs – using golf tees instead of needles – during a visit to the WSU College of Nursing Tuesday.

The group is part of Washington State University’s longstanding commitment to Upward Bound, a federal program to help first-generation and low-income high school students get into college.

The group of freshmen, sophomores and juniors from Okanogan County visited the WSU College of Pharmacy last fall, said Kelsey Hughes, academic coordinator at Oroville Middle-High School. “We take the students to different schools and universities to give them an idea of what’s available,” she said. Upward Bound also helps students with college and financial aid applications, tutoring, and SAT and ACT test prep.

Kathleen Parker, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Pullman, said the office has been involved with Upward Bound for 14 years, and has helped 115 students in that time. Only 10 of those kids didn’t finish high school, she said; one student from the first group went on to earn a Ph.D.

“Rural America needs more of this,” Parker said of the students’ interest in health sciences. “We’re trying to get young people excited about science, and the only way you can do that is to get them young, get them to touch and to see.”

–Story by Addy Hatch