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MinnPost: How Innovative Programs are Opening Pathways to Good Healthcare Jobs for Inner-City Youth

Posted on: October 6th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Twin Cities healthcare partnerships highlight the importance of collaboration in support of the goal of diversifying Minnesota’s STEM workforce. A recent article from MinnPost illustrates Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s participation in one of these healthcare partnerships:

The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership is a collaboration between a dozen colleges and hospitals along the Central Corridor between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, which account for 67,000 employees. This partnership is also behind the Central Corridor College Fellows Partnership (C3 Fellows), which since 2014 has helped more than 100 inner city students land full or part-time jobs in the health care field while still in school. The program is open to all students from Minneapolis and St. Paul majoring in health care-related fields at Saint Paul College and MCTC.

Since most students at two-year colleges must work in order to afford tuition, this represents a significant benefit, says MCTC Vice President Mike Christenson. “They are getting a résumé boost in their intended field along with a big bump in pay. Work/study students average $9.50 an hour, while C3 fellows make $14.44 on average in their field of study. This is important for students who might otherwise leave college for economic reasons. It’s a big win for wage and career at once. And it helps MCTC address our biggest problem — retention.”

The story is posted in its entirety below.

How innovative programs are opening pathways to good health-care jobs for inner-city youth

By Jay Walljasper, published to Minnpost Oct. 2, 2015

On a summer morning, a gaggle of high school kids of all races and economic backgrounds swarm onto the Augsburg College campus in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood at an uncharacteristically early hour.

They are here to be transformed — literally, as short pants, long African print skirts, T-shirts and summer tops disappear beneath maroon-colored medical scrubs. Almost immediately, adolescent antics subside and the noise volume plummets. Looks of serious curiosity cross many students’ faces.

The April 2015 Career Expo at Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

MCTC’s April 2015 Career Expo. (Photo from MinnPost.)

Welcome to Urban Scrubs Camp 2015, a weeklong immersion in health-care careers attended by 76 students in early July. Fifty-seven more students attended another scrubs camp at Saint Paul College later in the month. At both camps, young people got firsthand experience about what it’s like to work in the health-care field from real-life professionals and college instructors.

Two hours into their day, in one of Augsburg’s science classrooms, scrubs campers are learning lab procedures about glucose levels, blood cell counts, toxicology and blood types. This is not only hands-on learning; it’s surgical-gloves-on learning.

Maia Maiden, Medical Lab Technician Program coordinator at Rasmussen College, shows them how to use a dropper to apply urine samples onto glass slides for a toxicology study, stressing there is no room for error.  “If I report to the doctor that someone has cocaine in their system, there will be some consequences if I am wrong,” she explains.

Maiden tells students that a B.S. degree opened the door to her first job as medical lab technician at Hennepin County Medical Center. She then asks about their own career aspirations.  “I want to be a pharmacist,” pipes up one student, followed by … “a surgeon”… “a nurse”… an anesthesiologist.” One young woman who has been quiet until now, answers,  “I’m thinking your job must be fun and interesting.”

Students at the Urban Scrubs camp got a feel for emergency medical services, holistic nursing, veterinary medicine, behavioral health, physical therapy, and many other careers in sessions held at Augsburg, St. Catherine University and the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview.  Students at the Saint Paul College camp took part in simulated births, diagnostic detection, medical device research, the placebo effect and visited Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and Health East Emergency Medical Services.

“Many of our students were not aware that some of these jobs even existed before coming to camp,” says Tracy Wilson, director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education at Saint Paul College.

Attendees at both camps are a diverse bunch. Augsburg’s campers are approximately one-third white, one-third African-American, one-quarter Asian or Asian-American and 10 percent Latino. More than half are from low-income households. In a survey given at the end of the camp, 83 percent said the camp convinced them to think more seriously about attending college.

Saint Paul College campers were approximately half Asian or Asian-American, a quarter white, and 9 percent African-American. About three-quarters received scholarships. Survey results found that 82 percent could better visualize themselves in college.

At the Augsburg camp’s graduation ceremony, Hafsa Hassan told her fellow campers, “I came here … a shy person, not knowing many of you and not knowing what was in store for me.  Now, at the end of just one week, you are my friends and I am excited about college and a job in health care.” She is a senior at Minneapolis Southwest High School and will be the first in her family to attend college.

“The graduation is a point of pride to a lot of the families where no one has ever been to college,” says Laura Beeth, system director talent acquisition for Fairview Health Services. “They invite everyone in the family.”

And that’s not the end of the experience. Some students come back as counselors, gaining leadership experience and skills.

Jicarra Holman, an African-American high school student from Minneapolis who attended the Augsburg camp in 2009 and came back as a counselor the next year, now works as a mental health counselor at the South Metro Home Services after earning a psychology degree at St. Catherine University. She’s also training to become an officer in the National Guard.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about health care,” she remembers. “I just soaked it all in. The science I learned there came in useful later on, and having experience as a counselor on my résumé has led to a number of other positions.”

This is what success looks like

“We want to give them a glimpse of what these careers look like, and something of a college experience that makes the possibility seem more real to them,” explains Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow.

Pribbenow is also chair of the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP), a collaboration between a dozen colleges and hospitals along the Central Corridor between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, which account for 67,000 employees.  Since 2012, these “anchor institutions” have worked together to boost economic prospects and social conditions in the inner city neighborhoods surrounding their institutions — focusing on improving access to transportation, leveraging the buying power of these institutions, and providing job and educational opportunities for local residents.

Similar anchor institution initiatives (known as “eds & meds”) have made substantial contributions to struggling urban neighborhoods in other cities, including Cleveland, Syracuse, Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia. In Boston, two projects [PDF] launched by local hospitals have helped hundreds of low-income people pursue education for health care careers.

With seven major medical facilities located near the Green Line light rail, the health-care field looks promising for inner-city youth in Minneapolis and St. Paul. After earning a two-year or four-year degree, they can get a steady well-paying job with ample opportunity for advancement at one of the medical facilities in the Central Corridor.

That’s why CCAP supports the Augsburg Urban Scrubs Camp, (launched in 2010 as a project of the Cedar Riverside Partnership) and the Saint Paul College camp (launched in 2013). Both are modeled on a similar camp started at Winona State University in 2008 by Healthforce Minnesota, which is also involved with the two Twin Cities camps as well as others for high school or middle school students in Winona, Rochester, Mankato, Fergus Falls, Bemidji and Dakota County.  As far as anyone knows, this program is unique in the U.S.

Reaching out to Somali students

Fairview and Augsburg make a particular point of recruiting Somali students from the Cedar-Riverside community adjacent to their campuses, reaching out to leaders at the Brian Coyle Community Center, the African Development Center, the West Bank Community Coalition, the Cedar Riverside Partnership, the Riverside Plaza housing complex and other organizations to spread the word and raise money for scholarships.

The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership is also behind the Central Corridor College Fellows Partnership (C3 Fellows), which since 2014 has helped more than 100 inner city students land full or part-time jobs in the health care field while still in school. The program is open to all students from Minneapolis and St. Paul majoring in health care-related fields at Saint Paul College and Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC).

Since most students at two-year colleges must work in order to afford tuition, this represents a significant benefit, says MCTC Vice President Mike Christenson. “They are getting a résumé boost in their intended field along with a big bump in pay. Work/study students average $9.50 an hour, while C3 fellows make $14.44 on average in their field of study. This is important for students who might otherwise leave college for economic reasons. It’s a big win for wage and career at once. And it helps MCTC address our biggest problem — retention.”

And low-income students aren’t the only winners with both of these programs. Regions Hospital CEO Megan Remark notes, “For health-care employers, this is about growing a local work force that more closely mirrors our patients.”

“Initiatives like these are important for our region’s economic success,” offers Eric Muschler, program officer at the McKnight Foundation, which helps fund both programs. “We’re heading toward a labor shortage over the next 15 years as baby boomers retire, so training qualified workers in competitive sectors is crucial to the region’s future.”

C3: Central Corridor  College Fellows Program

It’s a hectic morning early in the fall semester, and students are lined up outside Brian Mogren’s office at MCTC. Mogren, director of Health Care Partnerships at Saint Paul College, administers the C3 Fellows Program on both campuses, traveling back and forth across the river.

Bi (Alfred) Djei, 37, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast who is studying business administration at MCTC, is employed sterilizing surgical equipment for Regions Hospital in St. Paul thanks to the program. It’s a full time position that accommodates his schedule as a student and a new father by offering both daytime and evening hours.

“My goal is to work in health care on the management side,” says Djei, who was an event planner back in the Ivory Coast. “So the job helps me learn more about how teams work and set goals. The Fellows helps me make the most of both my school and my job. And I feel supported because I can call or email Brian with any questions I have.”

Ash Irons, 27, studying to become an RN, saw a flier about the C3 program on campus. “I was hitting a wall in trying to get nursing assistant jobs. It was super discouraging.  I needed a mentor to help lead me in the direction I wanted to go.”

Now she’s working as a health unit coordinator/nursing assistant at Gillette Childrens Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul. “While getting paid I am able to observe the profession.  I’m in the room with nurses all the time. I see what I will be doing. I plan to stay with this job until I’m done with nursing school, and I hope to apply for a job at Gillette.”

Practical, real-world experience

Many students at community colleges are not is a position to take unpaid internships, Mogren notes, “so a job is how they can connect to the work they want to do and get real-world experience.”

“We help them understand what they need to do to apply for a job in the health-care field,” Mogren explains. “How to build a résumé. How to customize their cover letter for a particular job. Help them show their skill sets, and help them realize they may have valuable experience they don’t think of — language skills, technical skills, taking care of sick relatives.”

Even before they find jobs, students in the program are eligible for free training to get certificates in first aid, CPR, and basic life support, which are sometimes required for entry-level health-care jobs.  They can attend C3 tours of health-care institutions like Fairview and Jones-Harrison assisted living facility, and meet with health-care professionals and employers who visit the campuses.

“This all gives them an idea of the different aspects of health care, and helps them decide what in particular they most want to do,” Mogren explains.

“Everything we do help the students present themselves in a meaningful way to employers,” he adds. “And to know which jobs they qualify for.”

MCTC Alum Recognized for Local American Indian Women’s Fitness Initiative

Posted on: August 31st, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Lucie, MCTC Graphic Design alumMCTC Graphic Design alum Lucie Skjefte contacted her former MCTC instructors with excitement recently. Beyond her college involvement, graduation, scholarships and transfer to the highly-esteemed Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Lucie has made even more waves in the local community.

Former president of the MCTC UNITE student club and an active advocate for native communities, Lucie—along with her sister and others—founded KweStrong, a local triathlon comprised of American Indian women.

The canoe-bike-run event celebrated its fourth year this summer.

“Lucie is a wonderful example of the power and determination of the students who have entered and passed through our institution and become leaders in our community,” said Bill Hendricks, MCTC Graphic Design instructor.

The original Star Tribune story is posted below. Read Lucie’s story here.

Fitness, pride is potent combination for indigenous women’s group

KWESTRONG triathlon is a centerpiece event, drawing many from tribes across the Midwest.
By Mackenzie Lobby Havey, special to the Star Tribune

The sight of 166 American Indian women and girls paddling across the calm waters of Lake Calhoun in the early hours of Saturday morning represented an intersection of past, present and future.

Clad in brightly colored life jackets, the women ranged in age from 9 to 70 and came from tribes in Iowa, Nebraska, Canada and elsewhere. They put in their silver aluminum canoes on the south beach and paddled north in the direction of the shops, bars, restaurants and high-rises of Uptown.

They tread on what once was native land — Dakota to be specific. Long before the European settlers arrived, Lake Calhoun was largely surrounded by wetlands and known by its ancestral name: Mde Maka Ska, or “White Earth Lake.” Back then, the native people who lived in the region fished and harvested wild rice from the lake, as well as gardened on nearby lands.

Today, the bustling Calhoun has a different makeup, so the vision of indigenous women making their way together across the lake was striking. Taking part in what is known as the KweStrong Triathlon, women came together for a fourth year to compete in the canoe-bike-run event. “Kwe” is the Ojibwe word for “woman.”

Founded in 2010, KweStrong is the idea of Korina Barry, 28, a member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, and twin sisters Lisa and Lucie Skjefte, both 33 and belonging to the Red Lake Nation. Runners themselves, they found that they were constantly getting questions from other indigenous women about how and where to work out in the city. This inspired them to start the triathlon with a goal of inspiring women to be healthy and physically active.

“When we first started this, there were a lot of races every weekend, but we didn’t see many women of color and native women, so we wanted to create a space for that,” said Barry, who is the director of outreach at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota’s School of Social Work.

“At the time, we didn’t know anything about permits, and none of us had ever participated in a triathlon or any other race where there was registration and bib numbers,” recalled Lisa Skjefte, who is the Indian community liaison for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. “Even still, we ended up with almost 80 women participating, and the beauty of what we witnessed was amazing — 30 canoes with women and their daughters and children.

That single event ended up blossoming into something much larger. KweStrong does weekly canoe instruction each summer on Lake Calhoun, and in the winter the group organizes a snowshoe race. In the process it has gained support from local Indian leaders and others, like Wheels of Fun, which offer equipment, and Allina Hospitals, which provides sponsorship.

The women say that creating a community of active Indian women has been important, not just for those they’ve recruited to participate in KweStrong events but also for themselves.

“There’s something that happens when I’m running and I reach that point of wanting to break down and then all of a sudden I find strength in the people I run with,” Lisa Skjefte said. “Suddenly everything becomes clear — the water sparkles brighter and the trees shine more. Even if my mind wants to give up, my connection to this land and other native women is strong and I know I can do it.”

With canoeing being a fundamental part of the KweStrong event docket, she said women draw a significant sense of ancestral strength from the local lakes and rivers.

“I  tell the women that it’s in our blood. We are expert canoeists; it’s written into our bloodline and is so important to our way of life and who we are as native people,” she added.

Through the triathlon and other events, KweStrong is working to emphasize the importance of creating a legacy of health and community engagement for Indian women. It’s about helping women connect to their heritage, while lighting the way for a brighter future.

Indeed, there were plenty of examples of the KweStrong mission at work last Saturday. After participating in the triathlon last year, Valerie LaFave, 51, of Red Lake Nation challenged her daughter, granddaughter and several cousins to compete, also bringing her mom along for support and encouragement.

“Being among the other Native American women at the triathlon last year was really empowering, and I wanted my daughter and granddaughter to experience that too,” she said. “I wanted to lead by example and show them that anything is possible.”

“We envision a healthy, vibrant community, not just for the ones here and now, but for our future generations,” Lisa Skjefte said.

Denisse Linares: On a Path to Success

Posted on: August 14th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Denisse, MCTC gradWhen Denisse Linares visited MCTC this summer to interview Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa, Deputy Education Officer for Minneapolis Public Schools Elia Bruggeman and several high school students for a story on Univision, she walked around like she knew the place. Because she did know the place—quite well.

Denisse began attending MCTC in 2006, when she dove into English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. After several semesters, she transitioned to the Human Services program, and in the meantime served as activities coordinator for the Xicanos Latinos Unidos student club. “I was in school for a long time—first part time, then full time.”

Going to college in Minneapolis wasn’t at the top of her to-do list when Denisse was graduating high school. “My plan was to go back to Mexico,” she shared. Having moved to Minnesota when she was 12 years old, Denisse had strong ties to her family members who stayed behind, and thought for some time she could begin her adult life in the country where her parents started theirs.

But encouraged by a high school counselor, she stopped by an open house at MCTC. Liking what she saw, Denisse submitted an application. And then took the Accuplacer. And finally decided to take a leap—and stay on her path in Minnesota.

“It was a tough decision. At 18 years old, it was a very scary decision,” she said. “MCTC was so helpful when I didn’t know what to do next.”

After committing to staying in the Twin Cities, Denisse flourished. With a strong start in ESOL classes, campus involvement, a major that inspired her and compassionate instructors, she received her Associate in Arts degree in Human Services in 2011. Denisse went on and transferred to Augsburg College where she studied business management, and landed a job as an account executive with Univision.

“Deep inside I think I knew I needed to stay here, even though going back to Mexico would have been easier,” she said. “I would tell someone in my position to continue their education, and to find resources to help them. There are so many more resources now than when I was making my decision: there are scholarships, paid internships and the opportunity to go to school part-time and work in their field.”

After her interviews, Denisse had to leave in a hurry. “The Gold Cup is going on right now,” she explained. “Everyone wants to run advertisements with Univision. It’s a busy time of the year.”

Future Teacher Conference to Recruit Workforce Representative of Student Body

Posted on: February 3rd, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Early Childhood Education student at MCTCMinneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), in collaboration with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), is pleased to host the Future Teacher Conference on the MCTC campus on Saturday, March 7 from 10 a.m.–2 p.m. The conference is free and open to MPS students, employees and parents who are interested in becoming teachers.

This partnership is part of a larger project bringing together Augsburg College, Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS), Saint Paul Public Schools and MCTC to recruit future teachers—particularly teachers of color—to teacher education programs like MCTC’s, in order to facilitate a gateway into the teaching profession and ensure the future workforce is diverse and representative of the student body. Recently, MCTC and these partners received a Bush Foundation scholarship to build educational infrastructure to intentionally recruit teacher candidates of color, improve their clinical experiences while training and support their smooth transition into a teaching career.

The conference provides an opportunity for individuals interested in pursuing teaching to explore their degree options. The event will feature information sessions, lunch and a keynote speaker. Sessions will cover topics including daily classroom experiences of an MPS teacher, how to select an institution of higher education to pursue teaching, educational philosophies, resume building, funding schooling and how to select a licensure area.

Interested in attending the Future Teacher Conference? Register by Feb. 20 by clicking here. Lunch is included.

Photo: An MCTC student in the Early Childhood Education program.

MCTC, Augsburg & Others to Diversify Teacher Workforce

Posted on: December 23rd, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Bush_GrantSTORYMinneapolis Community and Technical College will collaborate with Augsburg College, Minneapolis Public Schools and Saint Paul Public Schools to utilize funds from a recent Bush Foundation grant to build educational infrastructure that intentionally recruits teacher candidates of color, improves their clinical experiences while training, and supports their smooth transition into a teaching career.

“Currently, about 97 percent of teachers in Minnesota are white,” said Kristy Snyder, dean of Academic Foundations. “MCTC has a strong record of engaging future teachers of color in our culturally competent teacher education program to prepare them for their future classrooms. Around 60 percent of students in MCTC’s educational programs are students of color. This grant encourages creative ways to recruit and retain teacher candidates of color, and because of that, Augsburg reached out to us to collaborate with them.”

This effort to recruit and support teacher candidates of color comes amidst the climate of teacher shortages in areas like special education and ESOL, and also in light of a large portion of the state teacher population approaching retirement age. The grant will strengthen the existing connection between MCTC’s two-year program and transfer opportunities to Augsburg while providing supplementary support to candidates to ensure their success as new teachers.

“The program at MCTC is very focused on cultural competency,” said Snyder. “For this reason, we currently attract many teacher candidates of color. By strengthening our articulation agreement with Augsburg, we strengthen the incentive for candidates to complete MCTC’s program, transfer and be placed.”

“Our greater goal is to utilize our community resources to close the state’s achievement gap,” said Snyder. “This is the perfect opportunity to make use of the talent and experience in our own communities.”

MCTC will host a Future Teacher Conference on March 7 for individuals interested in learning more about MCTC’s educational programs. Registration will be available soon on the Minneapolis Public Schools website.