When Boston began to take COVID-19 pandemic precautions last year, the Boston Lyric Opera had just opened a production of Bellini’s Norma. Artistic director Esther Nelson turned to a longtime friend of the organization to help them determine whether the season could go on.
Dozens of young people filled the O’Keefe Auditorium on Aug. 14 to celebrate the end of the 6-week Summer Jobs Program. The annual program and recognition event overseen by the Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI) Youth Programs team – now in its 28th year - honored 240 high school and 15 college students from surrounding schools who committed 40,000 hours to MGH and its community health centers this summer.
"You are the reason why we do this work, you inspire us with your energy, your curiosity and determination. We hope you learned something new about yourselves and gained greater insights into what you career paths you want to pursue now and later in life,” said Tracey Stanley, senior manager for MGH Youth Programs, while addressing the students.
This year's Summer Jobs program expanded its partnership to include Becoming a Man (BAM), a Boston-based initiative that offers at-risk teens from disadvantaged neighborhoods resources to develop life skills and career development opportunities. Fifteen students were offered workshops on mental health stigma and self-care in the context of cultural pressure the young men may experience. Each student was also connected with MGH male volunteers from an array of multicultural backgrounds. The BAM “buddies” met regularly with their mentees as a means to make positive connections with established professionals and learn from their experiences.
"There is nothing better than seeing students faces light up when they talk about what they are doing and learning!” Stanley continued. “These types of real-world experiences often provide the wow factor in their internships that can have a lasting impact."
Nai Collymore-Henry, vice president of Partnerships Alliance for Business Leadership, was the event’s keynote speaker. Collymore-Henry told the students, who she believed are years ahead of her development, that they have the power to create their own history despite challenges they may face for being different. “Society does not determine your worth. I encourage you to make space for yourself at the table, even if you need to bring your own folding chair,” she said. “MGH is yours. Today shows that."
Dorene Kyando, a Youth Scholar Alumni member, found her passion while working in the MGH Social Services Department. A longtime planner, Kyando always thought she’d go into psychiatry but after an eye-opening internship shadowing social workers and community resource managers, she found inspiration supporting patients needs. Kyando stressed the importance of finding “comfort in the uncomfortable,” saying difficult situations provide opportunity to grow and tap into hidden potential.
During the event, Raul Uppot, MD, of the Interventional Radiology Department, was recognized for his contributions to the program. Students wrote in their nomination that Dr. Uppot coordinated learning opportunities they did not expect as part of their jobs. He made every effort to expose students Yumen Wei and Angel Lugo Rodriquez to other roles within the hospital and allowed them to observe procedures conducted by anesthesiologists, medical students and nurses. Also honored were Zowy Hildago of the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers and Kiin Mohamed of Excel High School with the Mike Ruben and Valerie Low-Brahmi Awards, former principals at East Boston High School and the James. P Timilty Middle School, respectively, who were integral to the Summer Jobs Program development.
Christy Egun, senior director of Boston Partnerships, Equity & Inclusion for the CCHI, also thanked the more than 150 MGH staff members who volunteered their time and expertise to the program. “Supervisors, your commitment and mentorship over the past six weeks is an invaluable gift and we appreciate your willingness to open your hearts and departments.” Egun reported that the behemoth program grew by 30% in the past year and is one of Boston’s largest summer employers.
Read more articles from the 08/24/18 Hotline issue.
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