When Arnold Castaneda first joined BWH’s Student Success Jobs Program (SSJP) as a sophomore at Boston Latin Academy, he says he was reserved and unsure of himself. Three years later, as Castaneda prepares to begin college at Tufts University this fall, he’s proud of how much he has grown both personally and professionally, thanks in part to SSJP and his mentors.
“Being a part of SSJP was life-changing for me,” said Castaneda, who dreams of becoming a doctor focused on improving health care access for LGBT patients. During his time at BWH, he worked in the OB/GYN laboratory. “I was extremely shy and afraid to advocate for myself when I first joined SSJP, but the program helped me to come out of my shell.”
A program of BWH’s Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE), SSJP is in its 15th year of matching Boston-area high school students with mentors across BWH for year-long internships. The program is committed to building a talented, diverse health care workforce for the future of BWH, Partners and the broader health care community.
On June 22, SSJP recognized students for their hard work and accomplishments during a graduation ceremony in the Joseph B. Martin Conference Center at Harvard Medical School. This year’s class of 87 participants includes 33 graduating high school seniors, all of whom have enrolled in a two- or four-year college program.
Many students participate in the program for more than one year, gaining experience in different departments and teams. SSJP also supports students with the college application process, provides SAT preparation and offers scholarships to graduating seniors with the financial support of Partners.
At the ceremony, Sasha DuBois, MSN, RN, nurse-in-charge of Tower 10BA and former SSJP participant, told students that if they set their minds to their dreams, they will achieve success.
“SSJP helped me carry out my dream of becoming a nurse by giving me opportunities to not only get my foot in the door of the health care industry, but to thrive in it as well,” she said. “The program gives students a chance to start their careers early.”
Fenway High School graduate Giselle Colon hopes to pursue a similar career path as DuBois. Colon, who has been involved in CCHHE’s programs since middle school, said that because of SSJP, she’s ready to begin a new journey at the University of Massachusetts Boston studying nursing.
At the ceremony, students also heard from Turahn “Rahn” Dorsey, the City of Boston’s first chief of education and a member of Mayor Marty Walsh’s cabinet.
Michelle Keenan, director of Community Programs for the CCHHE, and Lisa Taylor-Montminy, CCHHE Youth Development manager, said they are proud of the graduates and excited to see what the future holds for them. They thanked BWH volunteers who serve as SSJP mentors for all that they have done to teach and motivate students.
“The culmination of watching the students grow into adults and knowing the commitment it took for them to get to where they are today is so exciting,” Keenan said. “The students are so thankful for their experiences with SSJP, and we appreciate their dedication to the program. These diverse and talented students are the future of BWH, and undoubtedly, the future looks bright.”