Fernando Medina Jr. remembers the day Brigham Youth Programs staff visited his eighth-grade classroom at the Maurice J. Tobin School to tell him and his classmates about a summer program at the hospital for rising freshmen like them.
“Being Latino and coming from Mission Hill — a neighborhood not known for its wealth or security but academics in regard to the many colleges that surround it, all while its native residents struggle to make ends meet — representation was something I didn’t truly understand the importance of initially,” he said.
That all changed when Medina was accepted into the Student Success Jobs Program (SSJP), which partners with seven Boston Public Schools to place high school and college students in paid internships in 40 departments across the Brigham.
A program of the Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE), SSJP introduces students to careers in medicine, science and other aspects of health care through year-round internship opportunities. The program also pairs interns with Brigham mentors, provides assistance with college and career preparations, and encourages leadership through student-led groups.
Medina, one of 25 high school seniors graduating from SSJP this year, ultimately went on to intern in the Psychiatry Neuroimaging Laboratory, where he worked on research projects investigating the potential relationships between socioeconomic status, depression, emotional recognition and psychosis. The experience inspired him to pursue a major in psychology as he heads off to college this fall.
“Being a part of a program where I’ve been able to see individuals from similar backgrounds take on leadership positions in Brigham and Women’s has been motivating,” said Medina, who also went on to serve as vice president of the SSJP Student Committee. “A program that gives back to its community has not only increased my passion to learn but also given me a desire to uplift and educate those around me.”
Each year, SSJP recruits high school interns from diverse student populations that are underrepresented in health and science careers, and who have an interest in these fields, with a goal of creating employment and training opportunities in communities that have experienced historical disinvestment and structural racism.
As part of their experience, students are paired with supervisors who serve as mentors throughout their internship and often beyond. The program further supports students by providing access to academic resources, including tutoring and college scholarships, as well as wellness services, such as mental health support.
“We are extremely proud of our Student Success Jobs Program, which exemplifies our commitment to serving the local community and creating opportunities for the next generation of diverse health care professionals,” said Brigham President Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA. “Take a moment to talk with any one of these young people and the lasting impact of this program becomes immediately apparent. They have gained not only a tremendous professional experience, but, just as importantly, a network of mentors to guide them on their careers and the confidence to pursue their dreams.”
Josias Rodriguez-Ponde recalled how his participation in SSJP and the Brigham’s other youth programs — including Summer Science Academy and Project TEACH — helped him discover his own drive and purpose.
“The experience I’ve gained has equipped me with tools and strategies for life. I entered SSJP with nearly nothing under my belt, and I’m glad to say I’m leaving with technical skills involving data organization, using neuroimaging software and programming, just to name a few,” said Rodriguez-Ponde, who most recently interned with the Center for Brain Circuit Therapeutics. “My work in departments has also improved my work and business etiquette, as well as my ability to plan and strategically allocate time and resources towards a goal.”
The Brigham’s Youth Programs have an urgent need for mentors, and you have an opportunity to make a difference.
- Project TEACH: Mentor a rising 10th grader in your department for 10–15 hours per week for six weeks in July and August. The deadline to apply is Monday, July 10.
- Student Success Jobs Program: Mentor a high school student (grade 10–12). Students work year-round (academic year and summers) for seven to 10 hours per week after school. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.
All departments are encouraged to consider registering for at least one mentorship opportunity, which supports our United Against Racism strategy to increase the diversity of staff across all roles and disciplines.