National medical conference focuses local student's goals
KINGMAN - Jessica Lintel wasn't looking to discover new medical procedures or cures recently when she agreed to serve as a delegate at a prestigious, national medical congress in Washington, D.C.
Lintel, 18, a senior at Kingman Academy High School, was hoping to be inspired and motivated by the three-day youth event, which occurs twice a year and is called the Congress of Future Medical Leaders. It is sponsored by the National Academy of Future Physicians and Medical Scientists.
"They were long days, but the people who spoke were so motivating," said Lintel. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and it made all the effort that I've put into school and work worth it. It showed me that I can do this, and now I can't wait to become a registered nurse and jump into the medical field even more."
Lintel already has devoted plenty of time to the pursuit of that dream. Through a partnership with KAHS and Mohave Community College, she received her certified nursing assistant certificate in June 2014 and began working the graveyard shift weekends at The Lingenfelter Center, whose residents have Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.
The trip to Washington, D.C., was underwritten by a family friend, Beverly Hughes, who paid about $2,500 to send Lintel, her mother, Christy Lintel, and her 5-year-old brother, Mason Leggett, to the event.
About 3,000 students from across the nation qualified because of their academic ability and achievements to participate. Lintel was the only student from Mohave County.
At the medical congress, she heard from Ed Damiano, associate professor in biomedical engineering at Boston University; Bohdan Pomahac, a professor at Harvard Medical School and director of the Burn and Plastic Surgery Transplantation Centers; and Francis Collins, director at the National Institutes of Health.
Other speakers were Carmen Tarleton, the sixth recipient in the nation of a full face transplant after her estranged husband broke into her house, beat her with a baseball bat and melted her face with industrial strength lye. She was left blind and permanently disfigured, but now shares her struggles and ultimate victory over catastrophic loss.
Lintel also heard from a variety of young winners of international science competitions, including Jack Andraka, 17, the winner of the 2012 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
When Andraka was 15 years old, he created a new diagnostic test for pancreatic cancer that is 28 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive and more than 100 times more sensitive than the current diagnostic tests. It also works for ovarian and lung cancer.
"I felt very overwhelmed and at times discouraged at the medical congress, because so many smart people were there and I just want to be a nurse," said Lintel. "But I realized that every part of the medical world makes a difference. A CNA may be at the bottom of the totem pole, but we are the eyes and the ears of the patients at the Lingenfelter Center.
"I think I will go into Alzheimer's and dementia nursing. I fell in love with these residents and would do anything for them. When I look at each one of them, I see another person with needs. My job is to help them get into bed at night and out of it in the morning with a smile on my face, because that's what makes or breaks it for them."
After she graduates in May, Lintel plans to move to Flagstaff and attend Northern Arizona University, where she will pursue her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing. And she may be getting some help through her employer with scholarships, said Kristen Ott, administrator at the Lingenfelter Center.
The company encourages growth there and frequently provides educational scholarships to employees who stay there for two years after graduation, said Ott. It's nice to see young employees showing ambition and making a big difference to the company and community, she added.
"We're excited for Jessica," said Ott. "She's really a hard worker. Being a CNA is a strenuous job mentally and physically, and they form bonds and relationships with the residents until they pass on. Jessica is compassionate, a team player and she's a wonderful employee."