By MIKE SAKAL
Avon High School sophomore Casey Oley is at UCLA this week, participating in Envision's National Youth Leadership Forum: Medicine. The 15-year-old aspiring cardiothoracic surgeon joins high school students from across the nation and the world who were selected for the hands-on academic development experience at the university's campus in Los Angeles.
Casey was nominated for the program by one of his Avon High School teachers. The leadership program began Saturday and will conclude Sunday. He was selected based on his academic excellence and career interest through an academic partnership with George Mason University. He will earn two hours of college credit from George Mason after he completes it.
NYLF Medicine is one of the Envision programs that enable students to explore their interests and experience learning beyond the classroom.
"When I got the letter informing me I was selected for this, I felt really lucky,” Casey said. “I'm honored. I'm not sure which teacher nominated me for this, but I'm glad that I was selected."
While there, Oley will hear presentations by speakers in the medical field, interact with doctors at UCLA, participate in a mock disaster drill, and be immersed in medical-related areas from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Casey was selected based on his academic excellence and character. He initially wanted to pursue a career as a veterinarian, but a neck injury during his freshman year while playing hockey for his school spurred his interest in becoming a physician.
Casey was taken to the emergency department at University Hospitals’ Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland after he was injured, his father, Ed Oley, said. After spending eight hours in the hospital, Casey was released. When Casey was falling down on the ice, another player’s knee hit his head, causing him to hit his neck on the ice.
"While at the hospital, I saw how the doctors worked together and used their knowledge to treat me," Casey said. "Getting hit in the back of the neck and being taken to the hospital wasn't fun, but I learned from it."
Peter, one of Casey's older brothers, recently completed his physician residency in internal medicine at University Hospitals in Cleveland, and his father is the CEO and president of Mercy Healthcare's Lorain market.
Prior to leaving for Los Angeles last Friday, Ed Oley said the youth leadership forum is a great program to immerse Casey in the field of medicine.
"It's an intense program," Ed Oley said. "The students will be on the go as long as they are there. Casey has been looking forward to this all summer. I'm very proud of him."
Oley said he believes that Casey is just the second Avon High School student selected to attend the program.
Since 1985, Envision programs have served more than 800,000 students in more than 145 countries, with programs designed to help students develop leadership, scholarship and career skills needed to succeed in college and careers.
"Hands down, students attending NYLF Medicine build the confidence and skills needed to excel at college and in the workplace," said Amanda Freitag Thomas, senior vice president for Envision and an alumna of the NYLF. "They learn how to adapt to and communicate in new situations, and to new challenges with new people. Given how rapidly the world is changing due to technology and innovation, those are essential skills for success."
"I'm excited to be going," Casey said last week. "I'm really lucky. It'll be a great experience."
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