College prep academy introduces high school students to healthcare careers

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The Metropolitan Indianapolis-Central Indiana Area Health Education Center’s College Prep Academy, which has been hosted by the University of Indianapolis for the last three years, brings students who experience economic or educational disadvantages to campus to learn about the jobs they could acquire in the healthcare industry. A grant provides the CPA with the resources it needs to provide students with the experiences that needed to apply and be accepted in a healthcare related program.

“Within this program, specifically, we are able to help these students get a better understanding of exactly what these health careers are and help them go in to those fields,” said Executive Director of MICI-AHEC Erica Young.

The CPA is a 20-week Saturday program that started on Sept. 20. The federally funded grant is for 11th and 12th grade students that are from areas that would not normally get the chance to see the healthcare careers offered at colleges, according to Young.

“With these 20 weeks, we expose them to panel discussions; we go on college tours; we bring in health professionals from all the different fields to come in and speak to our students about what they do, what their day is like, the type of schooling they need in order to pursue the career they are in,” Young said.

The MICI-AHEC staff uses the classes to help prepare students for college and adulthood. Along with learning about healthcare professions, life skills sessions that consists of financial literacy, saving, budgeting, self-branding and resume building. Test prep and interviewing practice also are offered during the course, according to Young.  

On college visits, the students get to tour the facilities and learn about what the school offers. Learning what the inside of the dorms are like, providing a chance to see the food options, and exploring the Health Pavilion to learn more about the health programs offered on the campus is great for the students, according to Young. Young said that the CPA’s plan is to expose the students to everything that college should offer and that being on the UIndy campus the past three years has been great for the program.

“Because they’re here, and they’re coming to campus every [Saturday]. … they have that visualization of, ‘Wow, I can really see myself coming here,’” Young said.

Outreach Coordinator Shaun Golden said she likes working for the CPA because it allows her to focus on students who need more help and to help foster their ability to be responsible.

“Healthcare isn’t really my thing, but … I am all for getting students involved in it,” Golden said. “… I have a heart for seeing the kids succeed. I have a heart for giving back to the community.”

Once the students are in the program, helping them and working with them is easier when issues arise, but recruiting them to join to the CPA is the hardest part, Golden said.

The MICI-AHEC staff goes out to schools, including rural and inner city schools, to tell students about the opportunity that the CPA offers, according to Young. Due to economic disadvantages, many of these schools are not able to provide their students with a substantial amount of information about healthcare fields. According to Young, the CPA allows the students to have more information and experience what college can offer them.

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