The University Record, May 24, 1999

HOPE begins health care career workshops for high schoolers

By Sally Pobojewski
News and Information Services

Students from Ypsilanti schools participating in the HOPE program toured the helipad at the Hospitals last weekend as part of their ongoing education about health care professions. The program emphasizes hands-on learning and interactive activities. Photo by Paul Jaronski
Ypsilanti high school and middle school students are spending Saturday mornings this spring exploring careers in health care during a series of workshops organized by the Health Occupations Partners in Education (HOPE) Program.

“Our Saturday morning workshops feature presentations, activities and tours by nurses, sports trainers, paramedics, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, research scientists and public health directors,” says Linda Cunningham, HOPE‘s program director. “We try to provide information and help students stay focused on what they need to do now to prepare for a future career as a health care professional or technician. But we want the workshops to be fun, too, so we emphasize hands-on, interactive activities.”

HOPE was created in fall 1998 when seven U-M schools and colleges, the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, community groups and private industry merged forces with educators and administrators in the Ypsilanti Public Schools. Their common goal is to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who pursue a career in any health care area. While the program is geared to minority students, all middle and high school students in the Ypsilanti Public School District are eligible to participate.

The program is part of a nationwide initiative instituted by the American Association of Medical Colleges to address the growing problem of too few minority students entering the health professions.

“The number of Black, Latino and Native American students interested in health-related careers decreases every year from elementary school on,” says Lisa A. Tedesco, a professor of dentistry and co-principal investigator for the HOPE program. “HOPE‘s goal is to develop a successful model for how to recruit qualified minority students into the health professions and sustain their participation through the critical middle school and high school years,” adds Tedesco, who also is vice president and secretary of the University.

“HOPE opens additional doors of opportunity for many of our students who have not had access to careers in science or medicine in the past,” says David Zuhlke, Ypsilanti Public Schools superintendent. “It is an important partnership and supports our efforts to reduce the achievement gap between white and minority students.”

Although the program has only been under way for one semester, Cunningham says it already has strong support from Ypsilanti teachers, students and parents. By this fall, Cunningham plans to provide volunteer mentors and tutors to work with students individually. Individuals interested in serving as mentors or tutors should contact the HOPE office.

HOPE partners include the Ypsilanti Public Schools; Washtenaw Community College; the Minister‘s Alliance of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Vicinity; Ypsilanti-Willow Run NAACP; Parke-Davis, a division of Warner-Lambert; Washtenaw County Black Nurses Association; the Association of Multicultural Scientists; Washtenaw County Task Force on African American Health; and the School of Dentistry, School of Education, Medical School, School of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, School of Public Health, School of Social Work, and U-M Hospitals and Health Centers.

“This is the first time all health-related U-M schools and colleges have joined together to support one project,” Cunningham says. “Our overriding goal is to help young people achieve their full potential.”

The HOPE Program is funded by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation through the Project 3000 by 2000 Health Professions Partnership initiative, with matching funding from the U-M partner schools and Parke-Davis.

For more information, call 647-5774.