Cadavers, a Teen, and a Med School Dream

GARY, IND. — A 17-year-old Indiana high school student stands among the group of medical students, doctors and nurses working with a scalpel on a cadaver donor. His status isn’t obvious in the crowd, and his confidence seems to work as camouflage.

Johntrell Bowles has dreamed of becoming a doctor since a young age. His mother, he says, was diagnosed with mild congestive heart failure and deemed unable to care for Bowles and his siblings, so they live in a foster home in Gary. But despite the life-changing event, he did his best to turn the situation into an opportunity.

“I cannot change my mother’s illness, but I can help others,” Bowles wrote in an application to the 2014 International Human Cadaver Prosection Program at the medical school at Indiana University Northwest, also in Gary. His ultimate goal, he says, is to attend medical school.

Bowles was interviewed and accepted — deemed mature enough to handle a situation many people could not. During the summer program, which he is the youngest person to do, he helped prepare cadavers for the school’s incoming medical class.

“The first time I walked into the lab, I felt normal. I felt like that was where I needed to be, but what went through my head before I walked into the lab was, ‘Can I handle this? Can I handle seeing someone who has passed away? Can I handle seeing what’s actually inside of me and other people?'” he said.

Although Bowles felt confident, he still needed a little help.

Dr. Ernest Talarico, a professor and associate director at the medical school who also oversees the summer cadaver program, says Bowles was standing back when the cadavers first arrived. So Talarico did something a little unconventional to help get the young student more comfortable — a gesture done with respect, but also a little humor.

“I took his hand. I took the hand of the patient. I put their hands together. I said, ‘Meet your first patient, Johntrell,’ and I think he kind of loosened up,” Talarico says.

This is, after all, a place where volunteers can’t be shy about what they see, or smell.

After meeting his first “patient,” a term used for the cadavers to help relay their humanness, Bowles wasn’t shy about getting to work. This was an opportunity he didn’t want to squander.

Charles Swanson, Bowles’ high school science teacher, wrote a recommendation to get his student into the program and then ended up joining the program himself. He said Bowles has worked hard and overcome a lot to get there.

“There’s violence. There’s other things that would make any mission of becoming a medical doctor almost seemingly impossible. And I truly believe that he can be really successful because he’s not let all those things limit him,” said Swanson, who teaches at 21st Century Charter High School in Gary, where Bowles is starting his junior year.

To get to medical school, though, Bowles says he has to take care of many other things first, including taking the ACT exam in the spring.

“I’m not focused on medical school yet,” he says. “When I get to that bridge I’ll cross it. But right now, I’m focusing on this, I’ll focus on tomorrow, focus on volunteering at the hospital and take care of my family right now. And THEN, I can discuss my future.”

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Aplica Ahora

Grade Level

GEO Prep Academy utilizará el sistema en línea EnrollBR para el proceso de inscripción 2021-2022. EnrollBR es un proceso de solicitud común que brinda ayuda a las familias con la correcta elección de la escuela que satisfará las necesidades que sus hijos tengan. Los padres deben seguir las instrucciones a continuación para registrarse para el año escolar 2020-2021.

  1. Haga clic aquí para ir directamente a EnrollBR y comenzar su aplicación.
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Para el año escolar 2020-2021, GEO Prep Academy inscribirá los grados K – 8o. Las escuelas están ubicadas en:

  • Grados K-2do – 4006 Platt, Baton Rouge, LA 70814
  • 3ro – 8vo Grados – 2311 N. Sherwood Forest Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70815

Para obtener información sobre cómo inscribirse en el actual año escolar, comuníquese con la escuela. Se puede contactar a ambas escuelas al número (225) 927-1500.

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Grade Level

GEO Prep Academy will be utilizing the EnrollBR online system for the 2021-2022 enrollment process. EnrollBR is a common application process that assists families with school choice to meet the needs of their child(ren). Parents should follow the below directions to register for the 2020-2021 school year.

  1. Click Here to go directly to EnrollBR and begin your application.
  2. You will need an email address. If you do not have one, there are instructions to help you set up a Google Gmail Account. Click here
  3. For instructions on completing the enrollment application beforehand, Click Here

For the 2020-2021 school year, GEO Prep Academy will be enrolling grades K – 8. The schools are located at:

  • K-2nd Grades – 4006 Platt, Baton Rouge, LA 70814
  • 3rd – 8th Grades – 2311 N. Sherwood Forest Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70815

For information on enrolling this current school year, please contact the school. Both schools can be contacted at (225) 927-1500.