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Rayan’s journey from academics to advocacy

Rayan Elhanan (DSST: Montview ‘24) has an impressive academic record. She has a 4.5 GPA, is taking five AP classes this semester alone, has been admitted to six excellent universities* including Stanford and USC and was selected for the highly regarded LEDA Scholars Program.

But Elhanan truly shines when she shares her passion for diversity and equity in the medical field. 

“I’ve been interested in medicine ever since I was young, as you can see from the photo in my Doc McStuffins outfit,” said Elhanan. “But, it wasn’t until recently that I realized I was interested in public health and the global aspect of medicine.”

During her sophomore year at DSST: Montview, Elhanan was selected for the Medical Career Collaborative (MC²) program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. The program consists of a paid internship, one-on-one mentorship and workshops to expose high school students to healthcare careers.

Elhanan enjoyed learning through MC², however, she couldn’t help but notice something about her internship experience: “I was the only Black person and the only person who identified as Muslim in my department.” 

Elhanan left her internship determined to start a program at her school that focused on diversifying STEM. Thus, the Healing Hands Collective was born. 

As the founder of the club, Elhanan hosts bi-weekly meetings and organizes field trips for her peers. This semester, the group is visiting the Cadaver Lab at CU Anschutz and the CSU Spur Campus. To ensure all students could attend, Elhanan also advocated to eliminate cost barriers for students. 

In addition to paying attention to the needs of her local community, Elhanan has watched from afar as Sudan (the home country of her family) has been torn apart by war, shattering the healthcare system. 

Elhanan dreams of one day founding an organization that can support medical efforts in Sudan.

“It’s hard to see,” she said. “I don’t just want to go to med school. I don’t just want to be a doctor. I want to go to the roots of the healthcare system and see what is not being adequately addressed right now.”

Elhanan believes that her seven years at DSST: Montview Middle and High School have prepared her extremely well for college, the next step in accomplishing her dreams.



“I think DSST has prepared me for college because we are a small school. We have more personalized relationships with our college counselors,” said Elhanan. “I’ve had a personal connection with Ms. Gibbs (Director of College Success) since before she was assigned as my college counselor. Then, my sophomore year she started helping me apply to MC², LEDA, Access Opportunity, and more.” 

In addition to one-on-one college counseling, Elhanan cites the opportunity of a challenging curriculum at DSST: Montview as preparing her for college.

“My math teacher Mr. Dressel said he thought I would benefit from moving up to a higher level math class,” Elhanan said. “Now, I’m in AP Calculus BC. I developed necessary study habits and time management skills that will help me in college.” 

*Rayan has been admitted to Stanford University, University of Southern California, University of Virginia, University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado State University, and Colorado School of Mines.