After losing family members, Park Hill freshman dreams of finding cure for cancer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Trying to find a cure for cancer: That's what one Park Hill High School freshman is trying to do.

Jessica Binckley is a unique ninth-grader. She's been spending her summers at Duke University, searching for solutions.

Her passion stems from pain. The 16-year-old is part of the Duke TIP Field Studies program for nanotechnology, and she's one of just 25 in the country chosen for this honor.

Jessica Binckley during the Duke TIP Field Studies program

"I've had unfortunately a lot of family members that have battled cancer and different, even rare, diseases," Binckley said.

Grandparents, an aunt, an uncle -- all gone too soon.

"That really tore me apart inside," the 16-year-old said.

So she's turning her pain into her passion. Simply put: "Find a cure for cancer. Who doesn't want to do that?" Binckley said.

And she plans to do just that.

The 16-year-old has a keen interest in studying nano-particles and their effects on the environment and disease.

Jessica Binckley

She's been a part of the Duke Talent Identification Program since the seventh grade. Her dream is to attend Duke University after high school and eventually become a doctor of oncology or neurosurgery at a research hospital.

"Success is what you really want it to be," she said.

The Park Hill freshman recently landed a professional studies internship at Truman Medical Center's oncology department. She'll start her internship this summer.

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