About Us.

What is Healthcare Sparks?

Healthcare Sparks is a nonprofit organization that encourages young professionals to interact and engage with middle and high-school students, in hopes of sparking their interest in healthcare and STEM-related fields.


To encourage young minority students to pursue healthcare and STEM careers by interacting with professionals in those fields and engaging with scientific concepts in fun and interactive ways.



To increase the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine by providing inspiration and motivation, resources, and scholarships for young students.

At our very first session with US Dream Academy.

Kristoff Foster (Co-Director), Danae Smart (Founder), and Holly Chery (Volunteer)

Our Founder.

Danae Smart

Danae Smart is a fourth-year medical student at Loma Linda University School of Medicine. She is the daughter of Matcham and Danny Smart of Cape Coral, Florida. She grew up in a city designated as a health professional shortage area, which is an area or region in which the population has limited access to primary health care, mental health care, and dental care. Over the years, she became passionate about creating change and always knew that she wanted to contribute to closing the gaps in healthcare disparities. Besides creating new policy, in order to effect change, Danae believes there has to be more diversity in healthcare. For years, there has been a shortage of minorities in medicine, and this is due in part to lack of resources and limited exposure. She was never treated by a Black physician growing up, and if her aunt and uncle were not physicians, she may never have recognized medicine as an achievable dream. Healthcare Sparks was designed to address this need and to provide the opportunity for students to explore health careers in an exciting way. 

As one of my friends, Lashyra Nolen, eloquently stated upon her admission to Harvard Med in 2019, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”

This quote was originally coined by the Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, Marian Wright Edelman, who recognized the importance of equal representation in a diverse society. My goals are similar; I want students to have the opportunity to learn from and work with aspiring and current healthcare professionals.  

Recently, I was tutoring a minority student in biology, and to break the ice during her first session, I asked her about her hobbies and future career goals. She shared that she loved the show, The Good Doctor, dancing, and that her career plan was to work at Amazon or ride a motorcycle. I encouraged her to do whatever her heart desired, but of course, I also had to ask, “Why not something in healthcare?  You are taking biology and you like The Good Doctor.  I figured maybe you are interested in Science?” She responded, “The Good Doctor isn’t science! They do cool procedures on the show and medicine!”  I was shocked by her response but not completely surprised because in working with other children during Healthcare Sparks meetings earlier in the year, I had heard some similar comments.  

Our team conducted a poll at the very beginning of the first session with Dream Academy of San Bernardino.  We asked the students to rate their interest in science and medicine on a scale of 0-10. The average was 2.  After presenting our cardiovascular module and playing some games to demonstrate how the heart pumps, allowing the participants to use our stethoscopes, and palpate radial pulses, one student exclaimed, “This is so much fun!” This was one of the students who had ranked their interest at “0” during the poll.  One of our volunteers inquired, “I thought you didn’t like science?”

“This isn’t science,” the student responded. 

This very first session alone reassured me that Healthcare Sparks is important and that I can make a difference. 

Excite, Motivate, Empower!