ATLANTIC MINE - When Jeffers High School senior Calina Puuri received a letter earlier this year asking if she wanted to attend a 10-day leadership conference in Chicago over the summer, she jumped at the opportunity.
Although it took some fundraising, Puuri ended up being accepted and attended the National Student Leadership Conference on Medicine & Health Care on the campus of Northwestern University in mid-July. It was an experience she relished - especially being the only Upper Peninsula representative - and one that she will use the rest of her life.
"You learn how to become a leader in your community," Puuri said. "They taught us that sometimes being a leader means to stand back and let someone else step in or to make sure that everyone's putting their input in."
The conference kept Puuri busy, as her days were filled with lectures from top medical professors, projects, clinical rounds and other hands-on activities. With a group of 15, Puuri worked on a public health symposium project on teen suicide, and groups also dealt with possible emergencies they would face in the medical field.
"We did an outbreak situation, where you'd have to diagnose patients quickly," Puuri said.
One of Puuri's favorite parts of the conference was interacting with her fellow students who came from all over the United States.
"You get a different feel for different parts of the world even if you haven't been there," she said. "You almost feel by the end of those 10 days that these are people you've known for almost your whole life."
Although leadership was the main focus of the conference, teaching prospective medical students was also a highlight. Puuri said despite the challenges, it remains what she wants to do for a living.
"They say that of course it's going to be stressful," she said. "You have to do so much schooling, yet they taught us different time-management skills."
Being near Chicago also gave Puuri a glimpse of where she wanted to take her college education.
"I really love that area," she said. "I really would love to be in either southern Wisconsin or Illinois, because since we visited a lot of the city, I really liked how pretty it was."
A 4.0 student and class president, Puuri looks forward to putting her knowledge to use her senior year as well as in Student Leadership Committee.
"SLC takes about three people from each area school and we do different activities like can drives and a cookie bake for Little Brothers around Christmastime," Puuri said.