Teen Wellness Connection

For rising juniors

SEP’s high school programs are only open to students from SFUSD, SF charter schools, or College Track San Francisco

The Teen Wellness Connection empowers teen leaders to understand and communicate about teen health issues. This 9-month program connects high school students with UCSF scientists and experts around health issues that directly affect teens. Under the guidance of UCSF staff, program participants plan and host a Teen Wellness Summit to inform and engage with their high school student peers. Learn more below:


UCSF SEP’s newest program, the Teen Wellness Connection (TWC), fosters youth leadership and public health interest as students learn about health issues facing teens. Participants collaborate with UCSF scientists and health researchers to learn about the year’s chosen topic, then create a one-day health summit for 150 high school students. TWC is a 9-month program for a team of high school students, composed of 5 Senior Leaders (rising seniors, program alumni) and 20 Junior Leaders (rising juniors). This team works together to brainstorm effective means to relay health information to their peers under the guidance of SEP staff. In order to participate, a student must be a rising junior and attend an SFUSD high school, SF charter school, or participate in College Track San Francisco.

The TWC begins with a 3-week summer intensive where participants learn about the year’s health focus from UCSF experts and researchers, build community with their peers, and begin planning the summit. During the school year, participants meet regularly to continue learning, planning, and organizing for the conference. The TWC culminates in the spring with a Teen Wellness Summit, showcasing the leadership skills, collaboration, and hard work of TWC participants. This spring conference highlights scientists and health professionals as guest speakers and panelists, hosts forum discussions, and presents interactive and hands-on activities for San Francisco public high school students.

Topics for Teen Wellness Connection:

The health focus may change each year and is based on input from student participants. Students learn about an overarching health/wellness topic, then work in subcategory project teams to deepen their understanding.

  • Current Topic: Teen Mental Health
  • Possible future topics: Substance Use, Sexuality and Gender, Racism and Health Disparities, and Healthy Relationships.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed for our 2024-25 program.

Eligibility Requirements:

  1. Current high school sophomores
  2. Enrolled in a SFUSD high school, SF charter school, or College Track San Francisco
  3. From backgrounds underrepresented in science

We are not looking for students who have the best grades or have accomplished the most. In fact, we don’t ask you for your grades or GPA as part of your application. Instead, our objective is that your experience in this program opens doors, provides opportunities, and supports your sense of belonging in science. See our FAQ tab for more details on eligibility.


2024 Application Process

  • January 22: Applications open 
  • February 25: Applications due 
  • March: TWC staff meets and decides which students to interview 
  • April: TWC staff interviews students  
  • April 26: Selected students notified of acceptance into program  
  • July 15: Program begins 

Summer Intensive: July 15th – August 2nd, 2024

  • Meet from 9am-3pm every day for 3 weeks at the UCSF Mission Bay campus
  • Learn about this year’s chosen health topic from UCSF scientists and health professionals
  • Build community with your team of 25 high school students

School Year: September 2024 – April 2025

  • Meet every other Wednesday after school at the UCSF Mission Bay campus
  • Serve on an organizing committee to plan the Wellness Summit. Choose your focus: organizing Presenters and Programming, Hospitality, Sponsors and Volunteers, Outreach and Marketing, or Design and Media.
  • Host a day-long Teen Wellness Summit for 150 San Francisco teens from public high schools

As a TWC intern, you will:

  1. Receive a stipend of $2100 upon full completion of the program.
  2. Help scientists and experts learn how to connect with you & your peers, and what health information is relevant to your lives.
  3. Build your professional network through interactions with scientists and others at UCSF.
  4. Develop your science communication skills.
  5. Learn how to effectively work in a group.
  6. Collaborate with UCSF health specialists to create engaging discussions, panels, and activities as part of the spring Wellness Summit
  7. Build community as a cohort of 25 high school student leaders.


Contact: Sabine (Sabine.Jeske@ucsf.edu) or Rachel (Rachel.Harris@ucsf.edu)

Frequently Asked Questions

Students who are current sophomores, attending an SFUSD school or SF charter and from a background considered historically marginalized in the sciences (individuals from racial/ethnic groups typically historically marginalized in the sciences, individuals with disabilities, first-generation college students, individuals who reside with families who are low income or otherwise considered disadvantaged, individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+). Further explanation and definitions of historically marginalized are offered at the end of this document.

Sunday, February 25th by 11:59 pm

  1. Completed electronic application form, including an essay
  2. Letter of recommendation- one required, you may submit up to two

Submit your application, except the letter of recommendation, online. Letters of recommendation should be submitted by the recommender. Please give your recommender(s) this document, which includes instructions for what to submit and how to submit it.

We read each application very carefully and use every part of the application to inform our decision. Through the application, tell us about why we should select you. We don’t use grades or academic achievement as an indicator of potential success in this program. Instead, we want to know that you have some interest in science and that this program could help make a difference in your life. The ideal candidate will show us:
  • Evidence of maturity and responsibility
  • Evidence of persistence through challenges
  • Science interest
  • Motivation to participate in this program

We typically interview 40 students for 20 available positions.

We will notify students via email in April.

The TWC Summer Intensive is scheduled for July 17th to August 4th from 9am to 3pm, Monday through Friday. As long as your other summer program does not interfere with your attendance at the Summer Intensive, you can do both. If there is some overlap with the Summer Intensive and another summer program, it is not advisable to do both and may affect whether you are selected to join the program. If an applicant needs to participate in summer school, has extensive family obligations, or needs to work another job, these circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis to determine acceptance into the program.

The Science and Health Education Partnership (SEP) is committed to increasing equity in STEM. Specifically, we prioritize the acceptance of students from historically marginalized backgrounds in this field who are interested in Biology and Engineering and want to learn more about both. At SEP, we prefer to use the term “historically marginalized” instead of “underrepresented,” but we use the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) definition of underrepresented to inform how we prioritize participants. As stated by the NIH, “In spite of tremendous advancements in scientific research, information, education, and research opportunities are not equally available to all”, and they identify individuals from the groups below as nationally underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral, and social sciences. 
  • Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and other Pacific Islander. 
  • Individuals with disabilities, defined as those with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. 
  • Individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, defined as those who meet two or more of the following criteria: 
    • Were or currently are homeless 
    • Were or currently are in the foster care system 
    • Were/are eligible for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program for two or more years 
    • Have/had no parents or legal guardians who completed a bachelor’s degree 
    • Were or currently are eligible for Federal Pell grants  
    • Received support from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) as a parent or child  
    • Grew up in a U.S. rural area or a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services designated Low-Income and Health Professional Shortage Areas   
In addition to the NIH definitions, SEP also includes individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ as historically marginalized. Access data and further explanations here.

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