August 28 — 7:06 am, 2019

Cancer Treatment Centers internship has been life-changing for Carver senior

"You have to be there to experience how much beauty there is in medicine.”

Ninawone Zarwie (Photo: Paul Jablow)

Ninawone Zarwie says the high point of her internship at Cancer Treatment Centers of America was witnessing an operation where surgeons used robots to remove a patient’s tongue cancer.

“It was a life-changing experience,” she says. “The cooperation among all the disciplines. You have to be there to experience how much beauty there is in medicine.”

Zarwie, a 17-year-old native of the Ivory Coast in Southwest Africa, came to the United States as a refugee in 2008 with her father and brothers, seeking better educational opportunities. She found them at George Washington Carver High School of Engineering & Science, where she is a rising senior.

This past summer was her third Philadelphia Youth Network internship at the Treatment Centers. And although not all of her experiences were as dramatic as the surgery she observed, they were varied enough to help her set a course to be a pediatric surgeon. She hopes to be a pre-med major at Widener University.

“I know a lot of health-care professionals who went to Widener, and they’re doing really good things,” said Zarwie, who lives in Southwest Philadelphia.

This year, she said, “I worked in rehab and nutrition. I made copies of papers, shadowed physical therapists and patients who have gone through surgery.”

She also shadowed dietitians and saw patients who talked about their eating habits. “They’re taking so many medicines,” she said.

“I shadowed a naturopathic medicine doctor,” Zarwie said. “I witnessed acupuncture, where they put the needles. It was pretty neat.”

And as she heads back to school this fall, she admits with a laugh that with graduation only months away, she is aware that big changes are ahead for her.

“It’s really scary,” she said. “I get nervous every time I say that.”

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