EL MONTE – Rio Hondo School students are studying cancer cells, identifying DNA base pairs and exploring pathology lab equipment thanks to a new partnership with the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte.

The partnership provides Rio Hondo students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades a medical pathway that mixes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning with real-world experience.

The City of Hope’s STEM Training and Education Program (STEP) connects students with doctors and scientists to learn about cancer prevention, detection and treatment.

Rio Hondo sixth-grader Carla Rosales said visiting the City of Hope and learning directly from medical professionals has sparked her interest in pursuing a medical or science degree.
“Everything about our visit was so great; the hospital was interesting and our instructors were very helpful with questions,” Rosales said. “I would like to work at the City of Hope hospital someday.”

Rosales was among 100 students who visited City of Hope in January to learn about such topics as how to separate DNA fragments using gel electrophoresis, how to identify blood types and how chromosomal mutations can lead to cancer.

“Our partnership with City of Hope gives students a chance to meet with medical professionals and understand how their education can someday save lives,” Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia said. “This partnership provides great learning experience and a strong pathway that will guide them in high school, college and the work force.”


City of Hope Ph.D. Christopher Sistrunk teaches Rio Hondo School students how to view cancer cells through a microscope. The tour of City of Hope was made possible through a partnership with Rio Hondo School, which connects students with doctors and scientists to see how science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is used in the medical field.

EMCSD_STEP2: Rio Hondo School sixth-grader Kevin Martinez learns how to separate DNA fragments using gel electrophoresis to detect cancer cells during a visit to City of Hope. Rio Hondo School and City of Hope created a partnership that gives students a medical pathway where they learn directly from medical professionals.