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Jaeden Burrell: Bridgeway Student & Future M.D.?

by David Engle | May 31, 2023 | 6 min read

Even as a soon-to-be 10th grader, Bridgeway Academy student Jaeden Grace Burrell already decided that a medical career is in her future. One reason was the example that her own doctor set for her. “I really liked the way my pediatrician treated his patients,” Jaeden said. “I admire the fact that a pediatrician gets to watch these kids grow up the way he saw me grow up.”

Sadly, it also took some unfortunate personal experiences to confirm her decision and dream of becoming a doctor. “My grandmother died a year ago from a brain tumor,” Jaeden explained. “And even though it was a tough time in my life, I got to see how doctors and hospitals treat their patients. Many dehumanize their patients, and a lot of doctors just don’t treat their patients with compassion.

“Doctors caring for their patients with the consideration they need is missing, I think,” she continued. “And I want to help change that in the medical field. I want to do better than what I have witnessed.”

A Future Leader

With that type of determination, it’s easy to see Jaeden going on to be a successful doctor. Or whatever else she applies herself to. Her compassion and dedication to improving doctor-patient relationships as she pursues a medical career are admirable. And Jaeden will have the opportunity to begin her medical studies as early as next summer! That’s because she will attend the Envision National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) for Medicine, where she will have the amazing opportunity to receive hands-on medical experience and earn college credits.

This came as a wonderful surprise (and shock) to Jaeden, as she did not apply to the program, sponsored by George Mason University. The students selected for any Envision NYLF program, per their website, are either:

  • Nominated by educators, youth organization advisors, Envision Program Alumni, or academic institutions whose admissions criteria meet Envision’s standards. Or…
  • Selected through surveys from college planning and assessment organizations; survey participants are invited based on proven academic excellence and career interest and have requested that the survey information be made available to colleges, universities, and other approved educational organizations.

The criteria Envision require include:

  • Academic achievement, with high school students maintaining at least a 3.0 GPA.
  • Leadership potential, as demonstrated through extracurricular activities and the roles within those activities.
  • Career aspirations, in which students must state why they are a good fit for Envision and the impact they hope to make in the future.
  • Mentor recommendation from a teacher, guidance counselor, coach, or similar position who can speak to the student’s achievements and maturity.

Jaeden clearly met these criteria, though she doesn’t actually how she was nominated or selected. “I was very excited and shocked because I didn’t apply for anything,” she said. “When I looked at the invitation, it said ‘to call this number when you get the information.’ I did, and they said that I had been accepted and that not a lot of people get handpicked by them. So, I felt honored and very appreciative.”

What Jaeden Will Be Doing at NYLF Medicine

As a Bridgeway Academy student entering her junior year next summer (Jaeden will attend NYLF Medicine in the summer of 2024), this experience is a rare opportunity for someone her age to be fully immersed in the medical field. According to Envision, the NYLF Medicine allows students to “experience the collegiate lifestyle firsthand, learn from doctors, participate in an interactive curriculum led by advisors, visit an accredited medical school, test your medical knowledge during clinical skills rotations, and explore professional opportunities in the ever-expanding fields of medicine and health care among fellow high school students.”

This happens over the course of nine days at one of nine campus locations (Atlanta, Boston, St. Louis, Houston, Los Angeles, Raleigh, New York City, San Francisco, or Washington, DC). More importantly, it allows students like Jaeden to “step into the shoes (and scrubs) of a physician and gain transformational medical school and career knowledge. Discover the right path for your future through a fun and interactive curriculum that will allow you to test your personal and academic strengths in true-to-life simulations and hands-on clinical training, while you gain the confidence needed to give yourself a leg up in the future.”

Jaeden hasn’t fully decided on which type of medicine to practice. That means NYLF Medicine could go a long way toward helping her figure out what may be best for her future. “I have a lot to choose from, but I narrowed it down to three,” said Jaeden. “A pediatric neurosurgeon, a pediatrician, or maybe an anesthesiologist…but I don’t know yet. Hopefully, I will soon.”

Jaeden’s Homeschool Journey

Jaeden began homeschooling in third grade and has been a Bridgeway Academy student since 2021. She just completed her first year of high school, which she characterized as “challenging and very different.” But she is grateful for homeschooling because “it gives me more time for the things I’m really interested in, and it offers more flexibility so I can use that time and put it toward medicine.” Jaeden also noted that she loves to travel.  And homeschooling offers the opportunity to be in school anywhere in the world.

Jaeden’s parents obviously played the biggest role in deciding to homeschool their daughter. According to Jacquecine, as a faith-based family, she and her husband were not on board with some of the lesson topics that the public schools were introducing to students at a young age. So they decided to take Jaeden’s education into their own hands.

What led the Burrells to Bridgeway? “We were looking for a program that was live, interactive, and focused on the needs of our children,” Jacquecine said. “I have a friend who lives in the northeast who recommended Bridgeway, After a lot of research, Bridgeway was the top contender that offered everything our family needed. We would even get an advisor who would help direct us and provide information to ensure that our children were not falling behind or through the cracks.”

Her Homeschool Routine

According to Jaeden, she’s up by 8:30 every morning finishing up her work before her classes begin at 10:00. Jacquecine says that, at this point in Jaeden’s homeschooling, she’s quite independent. “These days I do very little teaching,” Jacquecine said. “I’m more about answering questions and helping her stay on track, keeping her accountable, and being there for her when she needs help with teachers or assignments.

Jaeden said she does more schoolwork after her live classes until later in the afternoon. That’s when she heads to the gym her parents own to work out. In fact, she’s training for a powerlifting competition at the moment. If she’s not lifting weights, she’s hitting the court to play tennis, where she sees and plays against friends. She also socializes with friends who go to the gym each day.

And while Jaeden succeeds with homeschooling as well as her life outside of school, Jacquecine admits to some trepidation involved in the decision to continue homeschooling her daughter. “As a homeschool mom, you worry that your children get what they need,” she said. “You are concerned about them keeping up with their peers and that their math and reading skills are above average. You are also concerned about raising wonderful children who serve Christ.”

Jacquecine shouldn’t worry, however. “She is an inspiration to her brothers and friends, and I could not be prouder of my Jaeden.”

Future Plans

Jaeden still has a few more years before she graduates high school. But she is already looking down the road and figuring out her college plans. “I have a few options,” Jaeden explained. “My top picks are the University of Miami and Florida Atlantic University or Florida International University. My mother went to the University of Miami and my sister went to FIU. But it really just comes down to which colleges accept me. I really want to go to the University of Miami because they have a good medical program.”

Wherever Jaeden decides to attend college, she’ll do so armed with the knowledge, hands-on experience, and leadership she gains from the NYLF Medicine program next summer. She’s not yet a sophomore in high school, and Jaeden has already made her parents extremely proud.

“[The acceptance into the NYLF Medicine program] is nothing short of amazing, and we are beyond proud of Jaeden,” beamed Jacquecine. “As my daughter, I admire her tenacity and focus. She is a leader everywhere she goes.

“As a homeschool mom, I am afforded the opportunity to know how children learn and where they soar, and where they have areas of challenge that need to be addressed. It has been a pleasure to watch Jaeden work hard and apply herself and soar above every challenge,” she continued. “Jaeden is generous with her time and is always willing to help someone else. This is a well-deserved recognition.”

Do you have a Bridgeway Academy student whose story you’d like to share with us? Email [email protected] to be a future family spotlight!

David Engle
Hello, and thanks for reading! I’m David Engle--dad, husband, sports fan, and writer/editor. As a father for the last 18 years (father of two for the last 14), I consider myself to be pretty well-versed in all things related to education, childhood, and parenting, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share some insights and knowledge with fellow parents. I have been a professional writer and editor for a quarter of a century (it pains me to admit that) and have been writing in the educational space for a number of those years. I reside in southern New Jersey with my wife, two kids, two dogs, and three cats. Never a dull moment.
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