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Campus News
Your faculty and staff news since 1965
Current Issue: April 14, 2003
Volume 38, Number 18

Job Mentoring Program at Health Sciences Center expands horizons

By Cindy Foster

Some 60 Albuquerque high school students are getting a taste of the UNM Health Sciences Center job market through a unique city/university partnership.

The Job Mentor Program (JMP) is a project of the Albuquerque Business Education Compact (ABEC) and operated by the City of Albuquerque Job Training and Family Services Division. It offers assistance and encouragement to high school students to stay in school and graduate.

The program targets students who have been identified by school counselors as having academic potential but who are not connected to school and may be on the verge of dropping out.

“Many times kids just don’t know what is out in the real world,” said Rosemarie Sanchez, who coordinates the program for the City of Albuquerque. “Often, if their parents didn’t have the chance to explore careers or get additional training then a student just doesn’t know what is possible.”

“The entire idea of the program is to expand horizons,” she continued. “Kids start to see what is out there and to understand that there are resources available to them.”

Informally, UNM Hospital Nurse Practitioner Kathy Lopez-Bushnell helped high school students connect with nurses at the hospital when she heard of the city program. She began working with the JMP and has been impressed by the students and their dedication.

“Everyone wins,” she says. “The students get a taste for the real world – and we find that they are eager to be a real help in the clinic. They can really make a difference during the day.”

The results can be dramatic. Kids have gone from almost leaving high school to honor roll grades while in college.

A lot goes on behind the scenes before teens ever show up in the workplace. Parents and students sign compacts to participate in JMP seminars and activities and to cooperate with JMP program staff and worksite mentors.

Everything within the JMP system is designed to ground students in the real job world. Not only do they have speakers and seminars designed to explore career possibilities and what will be expected of a student within the work place, the JMP students are also expected to create their own “career portfolio” that includes a career plan, resume and job application forms for positions that interest them.

When a student joins the JMP they must maintain good attendance in school and reach and maintain a C grade average or better in order to job shadow or receive a summer job.
They also must develop and follow a study plan for their high school classes. On the job, students must acquire 90 hours of approved activity each semester.

There are rewards for the companies also. They receive support from APS teachers and counselors. And, at UNM Hospitals, they know that the JMP students may one day become permanent employees – good news in a region in need of health care workers.

“I can’t say enough good things about the program,” said Bushnell. “We’d love to see it expand to other areas of campus. They are good kids, and they get so excited when they see the possibilities of the types of work they might do.”