The first cohort in a new Health Career Connections program at Western Michigan University will be celebrated Friday, June 30, during a by-invitation luncheon.
Earlie M. Washington, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, will host the event for the 12 students and their families to mark the program’s final day of activities for 2017.
The luncheon will be attended by WMU President John M. Dunn, other WMU officials, leaders from state organizations that donated to the program, and health care institutions throughout southwest Michigan.
The Health Career Connections program, announced last March, is for select incoming first-year students who plan to major in a health or human services discipline and come from underprivileged and medically underserved areas of Michigan.
It is hoped that the students will return to their home areas after graduation to improve the diversity, quality and availability of health care. Washington began her college career in a similar program in Mississippi.
“[The Mississippi program] introduced us to higher education,” she says. “It was geared to show us how to give back to the communities and systems that supported us.”
Those accepted into WMU’s program receive full scholarships that cover tuition, and on-campus housing and meals during the summer I session while earning six hours of academic credit. They are selected from students residing in the 19-county catchment area of the Western Regional Area Health Education Center, which is housed in the College of Health and Human Services.
Nancy Cretsinger, the college’s director of academic and student services, says the students in the first cohort are truly exceptional.
“We interviewed many remarkable individuals as part of the selection process for this first cohort,” Cretsinger says. “The students in this group have achieved great things academically, and many of them have overcome great challenges to do so. Talking to these students is nothing short of inspirational.”