Local teens find work and more in UMMS summer jobs program

Medical School partners with Worcester schools to build brighter futures


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Twenty-five area high school students participated in this year's Building Brighter Futures partnership between UMMS, Worcester Public Schools and the United Way of Central Massachusetts.
This summer, 25 Worcester high school juniors and seniors reaped the benefits of paid employment at UMass Medical School, an experience made possible through a partnership with the citywide Building Brighter Futures With Youth program. Beyond having extra spending-money, participating teens earned real-world experience and were exposed to career opportunities.

Launched by the United Way of Central Massachusetts in 2002, Building Brighter Futures (BBF) is a broad-based strategic undertaking to help youth navigate successfully to adulthood. A major initiative of BBF, in partnership with the Worcester Public Schools and various city agencies and employers, has been creating meaningful job opportunities for city teens. This is the second year that UMMS has joined other area employers, including UMass Memorial Medical Center, to hire students in partnership with BBF.

A range of departments created six-week employment opportunities for program applicants—more than 100 students applied for 25 positions at UMMS. While students performed primarily entry-level tasks, departmental supervisors and mentors also made sure their charges were exposed to a variety of learning opportunities. With many of them interested in careers in health care, the student-employees appreciated the opportunity to observe and experience different aspects of a dynamic and diverse academic health sciences center. “I was assigned a variety of tasks and had an opportunity to learn professional skills and converse with everyone in the department. I hope to come back next year,” said Worcester Technical High School student Langston Hughes, who worked in the Department of Psychiatry.

The six-week experience was capped off with a luncheon on Friday, August 6, at which program participants reflected on their experiences. Stephanie Anjos from North High School, who worked in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Pharmacology (as she did last year), expressed her gratitude by saying, “I’ll never forget this experience. I will take it with me forever.”

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Student Langston Hughes (center), of Worcester Technical High School, shares a story about his summer work experience at the Building Brighter Futures closing luncheon.
Mary O’Sullivan, who spoke at the luncheon on behalf of BBF, is familiar with the challenges that high school students face as they look for meaningful summer employment and explore careers: she is a guidance counselor at Worcester’s University Park Campus School. She encouraged the departing students to look for ways to give back as they enter the work force and she thanked the UMMS supervisor-mentors for their time, acknowledging how much hard work goes into creating worthwhile experiences for these young student workers. John Foisy, the finance and marketing department head at Worcester Technical High School, also representing BBF, reminded students that it was an honor to be selected for these jobs from among the hundreds of applicants, saying, “You are special for having been chosen and the feedback we’ve received from your employers reinforces that.”

James Leary, JD, vice chancellor of community and government relations, and Ian Barrett, EdD, associate vice chancellor for human resources, also thanked the mentors and congratulated the students, with Leary saying, “We look forward to seeing you in the future as students and as employees.”