A select group of high school students have been given the chance to dream about their future thanks to the efforts of two Central Michigan University College of Medicine students.
For the last nine weeks, first-generation college students Nicholas Cozzi, of Chicago, and Leonard Verhey, of Toronto, have spread their enthusiasm for the health professions to area high school students — particularly those from underserved areas.
“Our main objective is to reach those youngsters who would be first-generation college students with lesser access to postsecondary opportunities, whether it be social or economic burdens,” Verhey said.
The inaugural Health Careers Pipeline Program for Area High School Students was offered to a group of 15 students selected from three area high schools — Mount Pleasant High School, Sacred Heart Academy and Montabella High School near Blanchard.
The students were partnered with CMU student mentors from the College of Medicine and The Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. They not only learned about possible health professions careers, but what it takes to prepare for college.
Cozzi says that too often youngsters fail to dream about their future and learn what it takes to achieve their dreams.
“I believe with every fiber of my being that helping young people find a greater purpose is an endeavor I’m meant to pursue,” Cozzi said. “When speaking to students at my former high school in Chicago, I see myself in them. This program was built for students who need a bit of guidance and mentorship to inspire them to move forward.”
Funding for the pilot program was provided by the Mid Central Area Health Education Center, which includes as one of its main pillars the mission to identify and support health pipeline programs for middle and high school students.
Verhey has plans to continue the pipeline program next year.
“We’re supposed to be leaders and build leadership in our community as med students,” Verhey said. “As future doctors, we want to have an impact on the community. This is what the College of Medicine is here to do.”