Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser chose the George Washington University (GW) and Ross Hall in mid-August to celebrate the conclusion of the city’s inaugural Advanced Internship Program, which provides work opportunities for students eager to build career-ready skills.
Bowser and Christina Grant, EdD, state superintendent for education, were joined by Kiara Lucas, a rising senior at Calvin Coolidge High School, who was one of two D.C. high school interns working with the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ Rodham Institute as part of the Advanced Internship Program.
Bowser has invested more than $30 million over three years to develop work-based learning in the District’s schools. Rigorous and focused internships, she said, offer “an incredible opportunity for young people to think about what they want to do with the rest of their lives, to try it out, to get paid while doing it while going to high school.”
She added, “We're very happy that George Washington University is our partner working with our outstanding young people to help them figure out their futures.”
Last spring, the program placed more than 60 students with 31 employers in the health sciences and other fields. “We aim to place over 330 qualified CTE [career and technical education] students,” the mayor said. “We have the students, we need the internships.”
GW is helping to build a workforce, explained Christopher A. Bracey, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at GW. “Through various pipeline programs and initiatives, the George Washington University remains committed to working in lockstep with the district.”
Ashanti Carter, program director of the Rodham Institute and chair of the Health Sciences Industry Advisory Board of DC Career and Technical Education, echoed Bracey’s comments. “It is our mission to partner with the community and other stakeholders to develop the next generation of health care leaders.”
She added, “I challenge other employers to participate in this program because it is an investment in our scholars and our future, with a great return.”
The Rodham Institute, established in 2013 in honor of the late Dorothy Rodham by Jehan “Gigi” El-Bayoumi, MD, RESD ’88, seeks to apply the transformative power of education to achieve health equity in Washington, D.C., by partnering with nonprofits, community-based organizations, local government, and academic institutions to help meet those needs.
As part of her DC Career and Technical Education's Career Readiness Internship, Lucas worked on community outreach events, such as the Ward 5 Back to School Backpack Giveaway, with Carter and the Rodham Institute. It was her public service Announcements about the epidemic of gun violence and its impact on her community, however, that garnered the most attention and acclaim. Her video, posted on the institute’s social media channels, quickly drew hundreds of views.
“The Rodham institute is concerned with community health and health disparities, [and] I learned about the intersection of health sciences and community,” Lucas said. “Health disparities are not just about health care; gun violence is a public health issue too.”
Lucas, a Ward 8 resident who dreams of training for a career as a forensic scientist, has lost friends to gun violence. That experience, coupled with her passion for community, has made her a “champion for health equity.”
“It takes a village to raise a child,” she said, “and GW is a part of the village that is helping to raise me. This has been an amazing opportunity.”