Darlene Gabeau, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, grew up in New York City's Amsterdam Housing Projects. Her father completed the equivalent of a high school education, and her mother's schooling ended with the seventh grade. Gabeau's prospects would appear dim; nonetheless, she is now completing her seventh year in the elite Yale University MD-PhD program, where she studies cell structure of olfactory neurons. The Journal of Behavioral Neuroscience published her college paper on sex differences in the spatial memory in rats.

The MD-to-be owes her success to her own scholarship, but a small program called Gateway helped inspire and nurture her. Created in 1986 to boost the skills of students attending the City University of New York, the program engages junior high and high school students in hands-on research and science experiments. "In my old school they underestimated us," relates Gabeau. "But Gateway always challenged us. They never believed...

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