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Imagine U Day 2024

After writing essays on what they would like to be when they grow up, on May 15, 233 fifth and sixth graders from local elementary schools were treated to a catered career experience on campus by University of Utah staff. Eleven themed career experiences ranging from Health to Education to Athletics to Law were developed for students across campus. In its third year, "Imagine U Day," illustrates that a secondary education is obtainable when students follow their passions.

RyLee Curtis, director of community engagement, Kathlyn Anderson, principal of Hunter Elementary, and Emily Hagn, M.D., partners for the third annual “Imagine U Day.” Click to enlarge.

Imagine U Day is a multiyear initiative to engage with and build lasting partnerships with students, parents and educators in west-side communities. This year, University of Utah Health (U of U Health) partnered with Hunter Elementary, Whittier Elementary, Hillside Elementary, and Ascent Academy, schools in West Valley City. 

RyLee Curtis, community engagement director for U of U Health, explained that the four participating schools have diverse learners, with close to 47% of students identifying as Hispanic or Latino.

“Early on, our partners in the west side communities expressed the desire for us to look further upstream and identify ways the entire U campus could help break down barriers to secondary education and create pathways for youth to be our future health care providers, educators and more,” said Curtis. “We believe this program exceeds the original expectations and are committed to continuing these educational efforts over the coming years.”

For Hunter Elementary School Principal Kathlyn Anderson, Imagine U Day presented a unique opportunity to encourage her students to consider college. Several of her students participated in hands-on learning activities about ultrasounds, vital signs, surgical repairs and more with doctors and nurses in the school of medicine.

"There was just a general excitement to come up and be on a college campus, which is something many of our students haven't done before," Anderson said. The notion of pursuing a career in health, she added, "is something they don't often have modeled for them in their homes or their communities."

Imagine U Day aims for participating students to view the U campus as a welcoming place where they can achieve their dreams.

Read more below about this year’s Imagine U student activities.