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EASTERN Student Spotlight: Claire Zabalou, Allied Health

Claire Zabalou, a senior at Upper Moreland High School, is enthusiastically pursuing her interest in healthcare through the Allied Health program at the Eastern Center for Arts and Technology (EASTERN). Her dedication and hard work have paid off as she recently secured a coveted spot in the prestigious Perry Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania. The Perry Initiative inspires young women to be leaders in Orthopedic Surgery and Engineering by partnering with medical centers, universities, and high schools nationwide.

On Saturday, March 16, 2024, Claire and a fellow student from EASTERN's Allied Health program delved into an exciting journey at the Perry Outreach Program. This exclusive, one-day event immerses participants in hands-on surgery modules and provides invaluable mentorship from trailblazing women surgeons and engineers. With only 40 students chosen to participate, Claire seized the extraordinary opportunity to expand her horizons. The highlight of her day was suturing pig skin—an experience that not only taught her various surgical stitches but also ignited her passion for the medical field.

Claire's path to a medical career was deeply influenced by a personal tragedy in fifth grade when a school friend succumbed to pediatric cancer. This event profoundly impacted Claire, steering her thoughts toward a future in healthcare. As she matured, her aptitude for math and science became evident, further solidifying her career aspirations. "Allied Health is equipping me with the foundational skills essential for any healthcare profession," Claire remarked gratefully. When Mrs. Allison Latzo, her instructor, introduced her to the Perry Initiative, Claire seized the opportunity, recognizing it as a chance to explore new horizons.

At EASTERN, Claire serves as the School-Wide Secretary for SkillsUSA, the school's student leadership organization. She recently clinched first place in the district Nursing Assistant competition, earning her a spot in the state-level competition in April. At Upper Moreland High School, Claire contributes to Mini-thon, a group dedicated to fundraising for pediatric cancer. Additionally, she displays her athleticism on the varsity track and soccer teams, demonstrating her commitment to both academic and extracurricular excellence.

Claire is currently in the process of finalizing her college choices, with a focus on majoring in Biology. Through EASTERN’s dual credit partnership with Montgomery County Community College, she will graduate from Allied Health having earned six transferable college credits. Through Allied Health, she has also earned import certifications such as First Aid and Stop the Bleed. Her ambitious career goal is to become a Neurosurgeon. Reflecting on her experience at the Perry Initiative, Claire shared, "We discovered that you could pursue both an MD and a PhD. I don't want to compromise between surgery and research." Her plan involves three years of medical school followed by a fourth year dedicated to completing her doctorate, a path that integrates her passions seamlessly.