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GROWTH Program: Student Spotlights
Sep 2, 2020 Share

Twenty students have completed their six-week internship experience in the GROWTH program (Guided Real-World Orientation and Work Training at the Hospital). The program emphasized mentorship, professional competency and training, and health care career exploration for Benton Harbor area youth.

To conclude the program, students presented more than a dozen capstone projects to Lakeland leadership on health care issues ranging from maternal mortality to migrant workers’ lack of access to health care.

Recently, three GROWTH students shared more about their experience in the program:

De’Asia Branch

Area of focus: Physical therapy

Reason for joining the program: “I heard about it through a community member and they recommended me to one of the coaches. I don’t know what kind of career I want to go into, so I opened my mind to try out the medical field and see what opportunities were out there.”

Lessons learned: “I’ve gotten a lot of college and career advice. I’ve learned it’s okay to change your mind and really explore all of the options.”

Support from mentors/community coaches: “My coach called once or twice a week. She’s given me great advice. I can talk to her about what’s going on and what I can do better in the future.”

Celina Robinson

Area of focus: Lakeland University

Reason for joining the program: “One of my cousins reached out and said the hospital was looking for youth. I came in with an open mind, because I’m not really sure what I want to do after high school.”

Lessons learned: “It was great getting to know the other students. We were in it together. We did everything together, and it was really good to know people like us—the same age and same experience—were helping each other.”

Support from mentors/community coaches: “The staff was very welcoming. From day one, they offered opportunities like getting certified in basic life support. Shayne and my other mentors always wanted to help. It was reassuring to know they had our back.”

Shany’a Whitelow

Area of focus: CCU and Radiology

Reason for joining the program: “I was really interested in being a phlebotomist or CNA, so when I heard about the program through the Bridge Academy, I decided to apply.”

Lessons learned: “This program helped me assess what I want to do. Actually getting in there and seeing health care up close is very different.”

Support from mentors/community coaches: “My coaches, Julie and Mr. Rockette, always checked in on me and asked if there was anything they could do for me.”

Ronika (RJ) Williams, success coach from the Boys and Girls Club of Benton Harbor, also shared her perspective on the program and her role with student support.

“I got to meet about half of the teens when we went through the application and interview process, so I felt like I was part of this experience from the beginning,” said RJ. “During the program, I would help recap the previous week’s skills to help students succeed in the long-term.”

RJ added, “From a community standpoint, talking to parents and others in the community, I’ve heard how important this program is, and we want to make it successful year after year. We’ve had so much positive conversation about GROWTH.”

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