Columbus State Receives $3.1 Million to Create Pathways to Careers in Health
The groundbreaking initiative aims to place over 1100 Columbus-area high school students in health care-related education programs
Columbus State Community College has been awarded a $3.1 million U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration grant to increase the number of economically and educationally disadvantaged central Ohio high school students entering healthcare-related professions.
The college’s Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) has a goal within the next five years to place 1,125 students into allied health care education pathways serving students from Columbus City, South-Western City, and Whitehall City schools, as well as undergraduates and adult/nontraditional students, according to a press release.
Students considered economically disadvantaged will come from a family with a low-income level. Participants considered educationally disadvantaged are first-generation college students or students in a high school with a low graduation rate.
Columbus State staff and faculty were present at a special information session on Dec. 7, which gathered students, families, teachers, and community members at Columbus City Schools’ Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center. Dr. Terrence Brown, Chairperson of Veterinary Imaging and Surgical Technology Programs and a former HCOP participant, welcomed attendees and announced the initiative had received an accolade from Congresswoman Joyce Beatty.
Dr. Curt Laird, Dean of the Division of Health and Human Services at Columbus State, endorsed HCOP as a pipeline to success for students seeking to pursue health care-associated careers.
“Health care opportunities in [the region] are, to use a pun, healthy right now. You have plenty of job opportunities, and we have certain degree programs at Columbus State that, if you do what you’re supposed to do and you graduate, I can tell you you’ll have a job waiting,” Laird said. “It’s a great time to be interested in Health and Human Services and in the HCOP program.”
The HCOP grant affords students access to mentoring, counseling, and pre-college assistance along with career, academic, and financial aid advising. Workshops will provide guidance on applying for federal financial aid, scholarships and essay writing. Rising high school seniors will be able to take part in an immersive HCOP Summer Camp at Ohio University.
“We have advisors, both in Health and Human Services and in HCOP – they’re going to help you through every stage of this process,” Laird affirmed to the students present. “They’re going to answer your questions, support you along the way. You’re never going to be alone in doing this. I think that’s what we all need sometimes is a helping hand to show us the way.”
HCOP offers 13 associate degree programs in target programs that include dental hygiene, emergency medical services, mental health and addiction studies, exercise science, sterile processing technology, veterinary technology, and nutrition and dietetics.
Grant partners include The Ohio State University’s Department of Neuroscience, Otterbein University, Ohio University, YWCA Columbus, Faith Mission, Columbus City Schools, Whitehall City Schools, and South-Western City Schools. Nationwide Children’s Hospital is an additional partner. Franklin County is home to 25 hospitals and nearly 4,000 healthcare and social assistance organizations. In addition, Central Ohio is home to Cardinal Health, one of the region’s largest employers. These organizations will provide employment options for HCOP graduates.
Dr. Rebecca Butler, Columbus State’s Executive Vice-President, acknowledged the benefit of those institutional relationships, but emphasized the community impact prospective students could make as HCOP participants.
“You have heard already this morning a lot about Columbus State. You’ve heard a lot about the partnerships we have with Columbus City Schools and with Whitehall, with South-Western, and our other school districts. You’ve heard a lot about how we partner with Ohio State, with Ohio University, my alma mater, and Otterbein. We are very, very proud of this grant.
But this is not, for you, about that. This is about you and the fact that you have already made an incredibly important decision in your life, and that is you want to be a part of helping others. You want to live your life in service of others, and help others live their life to the best of their ability.”