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MetroHealth opens students' eyes to health careers


New vistas opened Tuesday for some CMSD high school students – all they had to do was cut through the MetroHealth System cafeteria, pass the cash registers and turn right.

Nearly 50 ninth-graders from Lincoln-West and James F. Rhodes high schools gathered in a hospital dining room for the first session in the MetroHealth Scholars program.

The eight-part series will bring the students to MetroHealth’s West Side campus once a month in hopes of opening their eyes to medical and other career opportunities in health care. It grew from President and Chief Executive Offer Akram Boutros’ desire to expand the system’s partnership with the District.

Dr. Boutros kicked off the program by retracing his journey from a youth flirting with trouble to top hospital executive. Chief Medical Officer Dr. Al Connors then walked the students through MetroHealth’s 178-year history of battling infections, burns and trauma.

After that, three living examples of opportunity took the floor: community outreach coordinator Camille Garcia, family medicine resident Dr. Addy Adedipe and environmental services supervisor Anthony Williams.

Garcia graduated from Lincoln-West and Williams graduated from CMSD’s Max Hayes High School. Connors introduced Williams, 28, as "the next CEO, "and Williams served notice that the remark should not be taken lightly.

“Be very adamant about what you want to do. Stick to it,” said Williams, who joined MetroHealth as a porter scrubbing floors. “If I’m not the CEO, I’ll be very, very close. It’s imperative that I be successful.”

Rita Andolsen, MetroHealth’s chief communications officer, advised the students to take advantage of the hospital system’s resources and not to be shy about approaching prospective mentors.

“There are a lot of folks here at the hospital, myself included, who are very interested in your future,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, when you ask someone to be your mentor or to coach you, they’re going to say yes.”

MetroHealth Scholars adds to a mentoring program started last year for juniors at Lincoln-West and medical services the hospital provides at a growing number of CMSD schools.

The new program quickly filled to capacity after recruiting began last month. Lincoln-West ninth-grader Endina Reynolds is thinking about a career in sports medicine but said the series could “open up opportunities for my future.”

Another Lincoln-West freshman, Modesto Matos, said he saw the program as a chance to “experience something new” in life but already has an idea of the direction he would like to go.

“I really want to learn surgery and be a doctor,” he said.