Estacada student Alayna Roberts hopes to have a career as an oncologist and is already taking steps to reach that goal.
Roberts, who attends Estacada Early College and Mt. Hood Community College, participated in the Congress of Future Medical Leaders, organized by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists and held from June 25-27 at the University of Massachusetts.
During the event, Roberts and students from around the United States heard from doctors and patients, watched a live surgery and received information about the college application process.
"It showed the steps I need to take to become what I want to be, and that it's not going to happen in one day," Roberts said. "It showed me what it was like to be a doctor. It was really inspirational."
Roberts also enjoyed connecting with motivational speaker Richard Rossi.
"He had this saying, 'energy baby, energy,'" Roberts said. "If you're lacking motivation, you have to power yourself. It's all self-motivation."
After completing her studies at Mt. Hood Community College, Roberts hopes to continue her education at Harvard, Yale or Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. She is eager to join the medical field.
"There's a growing movement in medicine and sciences today, and I'd like to be a part of it," she said. "It fits in with my expectations of what I want to do with my life. Helping people is the most important thing to me. I'd like to make a difference in other people's lives."
She added that she's known many people who have been affected by cancer, which also fuels her interest in oncology.
A variety of organizations and community members helped Roberts fund her her trip to the conference, including the Eagle Creek Grange, Sandy Grange, Garfield Grange, Garfield Skip-a-Week Club, Estacada Lions Club, Estacada Moose Lodge, Valorie Daniel, Marie and John Stege, Barbara Brockway, Marilyn O'Grady, Larry and Jack Thomas, Bill and Kelly Perry, Pat Gilbert and Jonathan Conway.
Along with her interest in medical science, Roberts is also involved in 4-H. Earlier this summer, she received the Oregon 4-H State Communication Award for leadership and communication in her community.
Previously, Roberts was a member of the Estacada-based Mossy Rocks 4-H Club. She is now an independent adviser for 4-H and participates in outdoor activities and leadership opportunities with younger children.
"I really enjoy working with kids," she said.
Last summer, Roberts won the Intermediate State 4-H Leadership Award. She has held leadership positions through 4-H and other organizations, including junior counselor at the 4-H Wildlife Stewards Camp in Salem, equipment manager for the Mossy Rocks 4-H Club, captain of a paddle team and volunteer at a local preschool.
She credits her involvement in 4-H with further preparing her for her future career as a doctor.
"It helps a lot with learning how to talk to people," she said. "I've met people and improved my one-on-one communication. It's taught me how to present myself as a better person."