Raritan Valley Chapter’s HealthLinks Program is an award-winning STEM career awareness experience focused on eighth grade students. For fifteen years, it has provided yearlong “mini-internships” for 600 students who have amassed 24,000 hours in experiences designed to give them exposure to diverse STEM career options within the healthcare industry. Additionally, this rigorous program has a very positive impact on supporting and enhancing their academic skills for post-secondary education. The Interns become advocates for positive change in their local communities. Many of them have been recipients of the Raritan Valley Scholarship Award. Former HealthLinks Interns are attending colleges and universities across the country. The Program is being expanded into the high school with the formation of the HealthLinks Alumni. The first Reunion of HealthLinks Alumni was held in the 2015 program year with a reception for high school and post-secondary Alumni. The completion of the HealthLinks data management system is affording Raritan Valley the opportunity to locate and register high school and college graduates to determine the impact the HealthLinks Program had on their career decisions. Raritan Valley’s HealthLinks Program has been the recipient of many awards and recognition in the Area and National Links organization as well as by local NJ organizations.
1. The HealthLinks Program provides 8th grade students with structured opportunities for STEM career exploration, the world of work and widened exposure to experiences, skill development and possibilities that they would not ordinarily have. At the same time, Interns are developing listening, speaking, writing, research, teamwork and networking skills, which will enable them to be successful in high school, post-secondary studies, and careers.
2. Over a span of 15 years, 600 HealthLinks Interns have been exposed to over 24,700 diverse STEM Health careers and 23,000 hours of mentoring.
3. In our first look at HealthLinks graduates who have logged into the tracking system, 50% of the respondents are STEM majors
The HealthLinks Program’s vision is to increase the numbers of minority students who enter Health Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-related careers. Our mission is to advance STEM excellence through enrichment activities and skill-building initiatives that target struggling students to help reduce the achievement gap for African American and Latino middle school students. This mission is achieved by increasing resources for middle school students through site visits to visionary partner organizations who are leaders in the healthcare STEM industry who expose the participating students to their missions and provide access and interaction with industry professionals who have acquired STEM careers and acumen. At the school level, participating students receive the delivery of transformational tutoring and mentoring to help build self-esteem, self-confidence, goal-setting and communication skills to help them identify and achieve their goals.
Goals and Objectives
The HealthLinks Program has three goals.
1. The first goal is to increase exposure to STEM Careers, and is targeted for students who are comfortable with STEM skill applications, but have little awareness of the variety of career opportunities associated with those skills. The objectives for this goal also include a variety of site visits focused on partner STEM organizations.
2. The second goal is to expand the STEM career focus into high school by collaborating with school personnel and former HealthLinks Interns to create a HealthLinks Alumni. The objective of this goal is to grow the STEM career program’s reach, capacity and impact into high school to further encourage continuation and pursuit of STEM career interest thereby responding affirmatively to the feedback of parents.
3. The third goal is to establish connection with former HealthLinks who have graduated from high school and college to determine their discipline of post-secondary study and their current occupations. The objectives of this goal are to understand the impact of the HealthLinks program on their career choices, and to arrange networking sessions between them and current HealthLinks Alumni.
About The Programs
A “mini-internship” for eighth grade students
15th year of implementation
60 students per year from 5 middle schools in Union and Middlesex Counties