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In September, RonAsia Rouse will begin her college career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she plans to earn a degree in public health. Although she has not yet stepped into a college classroom, she has the experience and confidence to succeed after spending the last year as a Student Success Jobs Program (SSJP) intern in the Center for Community Health and Health Equity (CCHHE).
“This past year has opened my eyes to the many challenges young people face and how important it is for my generation to have support in order to become successful in the future,” said the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers senior. “As I begin this venture, I can truly say that the SSJP has given me the tools necessary to succeed, not just in my career, but also in life.”
Rouse was among the SSJP seniors who were honored by their families, program staff and hospital leaders at a May 30 graduation ceremony.
The SSJP, now in its twelfth year, pairs Boston high school students with BWH mentors in more than 50 departments throughout the hospital for paid internships that provide an inside look at careers in health care.
During her time at the CCHHE, Rouse worked with staff on the Violence Intervention and Prevention Program. She participated on a community outreach team that brought anti-violence and awareness workshops and seminars to youth in the Mission Hill area.
Like Rouse, many of this year’s 26 graduates are heading to college this fall. Danny Do, an SSJP graduate and Boston Latin Academy senior, will be the first person in his family to attend college when he matriculates to Stanford University this fall.
“Before the SSJP, I didn’t know what to do with my life,” said Do. “I’ve spent the last three years working in the BWH Neurology lab, researching prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Now, my desire is to become a doctor.”
In addition to offering students paid internships, the SSJP helps high school sophomores, juniors and seniors achieve their dreams by providing them with intensive academic support. SSJP students are also required to begin their college preparation and application essays in their junior year, a year earlier than most of their peers.
As part of a newly announced Partners HealthCare scholarship program, each of the graduating seniors will receive a scholarship of up to $5,000 for four years.
During the graduation ceremony, attendees heard from CCHHE leadership, BWH mentors, former SSJP students and BW/F President Betsy Nabel, MD.
The keynote speaker for the event was O’Neil Britton, MD, Faulkner Hospital chief medical officer, who delivered a lively speech about what he wished he could have known coming out of high school. His tips to the graduates emphasized the importance of reading every day, surrounding themselves with positive influences and learning from both successes and failures.
“Continue to strive for the highest achievements, continue to work hard, continue to be the best you can be,” he told the students. “Do not limit your mind, because you can take on anything you want. We have seen dramatic changes in the world today, and you’ll be part of positive changes in the next generation.”