August 20, 2019

Championing STEM

High School: Windward School
College: Brown University

Last summer, Elyse Forman had two medical internships that set the stage for her future. At Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, she shadowed a pediatric surgeon, observing 35 surgeries and learning about the inequality of the health care system; she also did research and worked with data in geriatrics. She told the Journal the experience was “a very full circle of life summer.” 

In the fall, she’s starting the Program in Liberal Medical Education (PLME) at Brown University, an eight-year program combining undergraduate education and professional studies in medicine. Forman said this enables students to “explore what you’re interested in and how it connects to the medical profession of the future.” 

Forman made a distinguished academic impact at Windward School in Mar Vista. She is a National Merit Scholar who received a perfect score on the PSAT/NMST, which earned her a college scholarship. She was given the Book Award from both the math and science departments, was class valedictorian, and was named a Windward STEAM Scholar. Forman also was active in the Jewish community. She went to Brawerman Elementary School at Wilshire Boulevard Temple until sixth grade, was involved with BBYO and went to Ramah and Hess Kramer.

After experiencing gender inequality in her high-level math and science classes, Forman co-founded Girls in STEM, a project that took her and other high school students into underfunded public schools twice a week to teach math and science, so that the world isn’t “losing the voice and ideas of half of our population,” she said.

“If I see something I want to do…and change to make better, I’m going to do it.”

She created experiments and held trivia competitions to make students pay attention and show off their knowledge to other students and their families. Students overcame shyness and declared that they would be astrophysicists. Older students also served as role models to the younger students. The program also received a Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grant of $1,500 from the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

Forman also trained her dog for three months until he was certified as a therapy animal, and has since worked with him at Los Angeles International Airport, Ronald McDonald House, nursing homes and hospitals. She worked to bring therapy dogs to Windward’s campus, to help de-stress students during midterms and finals. 

She also remembers two children with autism who were very fearful about engaging with people, but who enthusiastically responded to the dogs. 

“Their mother had never seen them interact like that before,” Forman said. “She had tears in her eyes. [For] two kids who really haven’t been able to find joy otherwise because they’re so scared, to come out of their shells for a few hours and love being where they are was just so incredible. Any chance to make someone’s pain a little easier is really a gift for me,” she said. 

Forman turned 18 the day she spoke with the Journal, and was excited to “get out there and vote and use my voice in society.” She said she always has participated in marches on behalf of raising the minimum wage, women in science, climate change awareness, immigrants’ rights and other causes.  

“I basically show up to everything,” she said. “If I see something I want to do and can get involved with and change to make better, I’m going to do it. I’m excited to bring that to Brown’s campus, seeing where change can be made and doing something about it.”

Keep on reading about our 2019 Outstanding Seniors here.