By Nikki Ross Inda - April 30, 2021
The sights and sounds of Take Our Children to Work Day looked a little different this year. In the past, children of Moffitt Cancer Center team members spent the day at the cancer center replicating their parent’s role, dressing in white lab coats with a stethoscope hanging from their necks or wearing suits and ties. Kids ages eight to 13 looked forward to spending a day outside of school with their parents learning about the meaningful work they do each day.
But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students transitioned from in-person classrooms to virtual learning, and so did Moffitt’s Take Your Children to Work program.
Despite not being able to gather in-person, the virtual event, presented by Moffitt’s Healthy KIDZ program, allowed students to hear from some of the best and brightest experts. The children learned about countless health care career opportunities and ways to prevent cancer, and it started with Moffitt President and CEO, Dr. Patrick Hwu.
“Have you started thinking about your future career?” Hwu asked. “I enjoyed science and music. As I got older, both my parents were diagnosed with cancer. Those experiences lead me to focus on a career in cancer research. I wanted to find a cure for cancer, like many of your parents.”
Hwu emphasized that whatever their chosen career path, they’d be fantastic.
Patient Library and Welcome Center Coordinator Marjorie Cortes-Alvarado’s 12year old daughter, Angelee, was delighted to participate in the Zoom session. A sixth grader at Corpus Christi Catholic School, Angelee wants to pursue a career in physical therapy or film production. She said she was in in awe of Moffitt’s Infection Prevention and Control experts.
“It was interesting to learn how to stay safe, especially during the pandemic,” Angelee said. “I most enjoyed learning how easily germs can get on your hands, and learned some helpful tips to stay healthy. I appreciated the encouraging words from all of the speakers.”
For presenter Dr. Brandon Blue, it was an honor to speak to the students who participated in the program. Blue, who grew up in St. Petersburg, is an oncologist in the Malignant Hematology Department.
“It’s a dream come true to work at Moffitt, located just a few miles away from where I grew up,” he said.
Blue left Florida to attend medical school and later returned after completing several internships. The students had several questions for him, like what was his favorite book in high school. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” he replied.
To close out the program, Sharen Locke, a patient wellness coordinator and yoga therapist, led them through mindful movement and breathing techniques. She said the bearhug posture was a great way to embrace the day of learning and conclude their time together.