With a grant from California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), Alliant International University organized a Latino Healthcare Career Expo at Rancho Minerva Middle School in Vista, CA, on October 12 and 26, 2012. One hundred middle school students and their parents, attended the first day of the event. The day’s events included personal stories from more than 20 students (ranging from high school to doctoate level) about how their families supported their pursuit of education, the kind of obstacles they faced and most importantly, how they overcame these obstacles to reach their goal of working in healthcare. Because the majority of attendees were Latina/o, most of the stories were told in Spanish.
Approximately 50 middle school students and their parents attended the second day of the Expo focused on how to “Walk the Career Pathway.” The storytellers from the first event paired up with practicing professionals in different healthcare careers to create a visual career pathway starting with careers with the lowest educational requirements such as physical training, up to those with the highest educational requirements, such as physician. Students and parents walked the pathway and interacted with students and healthcare professionals while exploring a variety of healthcare career options. The event closed with a pledging ceremony where parents pledged to their children that they would support their pursuit of their educational goals. Students then pledged to their parents that they would work hard, overcome and achieve their goals.
The principal of Rancho Minerva Middle School reported that this event had the highest parent turn-out of any event held at their school. The Expo was truly built out of community collaboration with nearly 30 different institutions in San Diego participating in this event, including: San Diego State University (SDSU), University of California San Diego (UCSD), UCSD Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Mental Health System Inc., U.S. Army, San Diego Hospice, and more. Students enrolled in Alliant’s Couple and Family Therapy Program Community Mental Health course volunteered at the event and were essential to its great success. Alliant has already been approached for permission to duplicate this event in other states.