¡Si Se Puede! teaches teens about choices in health careers
Tony San Lucas (left) pumps air into the lungs of one of an infant-sized high-tech mannequin at the Medical Simulation Center. ¡Si Se Puede! participants watch and listen with stethoscopes. They are (from left) Victor Pahua, Shirley Silva, and Michey Hernandez.
Seventeen-year-old Dianna Hernandez says she feels more prepared for college and medical school after spending six days on campus for ¡Si Se Puede! (translation: yes you can).
This annual outreach program, organized by the office of diversity, broadens the horizons of Hispanic teenagers by giving them a taste of the various health careers they have open to them. This year’s group of high school juniors and seniors were here July 6 to 11 for a week of learning experiences visiting different schools, laboratories, and clinics at LLU.
Ms. Hernandez says that going to various lecture halls and taking notes during presentations has helped prep her for the pace and expectations she will face when she studies to be a pediatrician.
She was one of 47 teenagers to participate in Si Se Puede this year—the largest enrollment yet since the program began four years ago, according to Johanny Valladares, coordinator.
Many of the high school students who participate in Si Se Puede go into the experience believing that working in the health professions means being a physician or dentist, notes Ms. Valladares.
“But when they come here, they are able to learn more about all the different health care fields that are open to them,” she says.
The teens discover, for example, that the health care world also includes careers in fields such as occupational therapy, pharmacy, and nursing, to name a few.
Following orientation on Sunday, July 6, the week began Monday at 8:00 a.m. and lasted through mid-afternoon Friday.
Each day started with breakfast, followed with a devotional delivered by various individuals from off and on campus. This teaches them about LLU’s emphasis on spirituality, notes Ms. Valladares.
In addition to visiting schools, labs, and clinics, the teens’ activities included sessions designed to enhance their study skills and prepare them to be successful in their futures.
The teenagers had a networking lunch each day with a different campus administrator, including various school deans, as well as Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, president of LLU.
The days ended with a trip to the Drayson Center for an hour of recreational activities such as swimming, volleyball, or racquetball.
The week was completed by a graduation ceremony held Sabbath, July 12, at Loma Linda Spanish Church, where the students received diplomas. After the service, the teens and their families were hosted for lunch, where they expressed gratitude for the week’s experiences and new learning opportunities.
Si Se Puede is open to high school juniors and seniors of Hispanic background who excel in academics and are involved in extracurricular activities. While it’s not required, many participants already have an interest in working in the health care arena—but not all.
One teen this year was thinking of going into a non-health related career. But during Si Se Puede, she grew interested in pediatrics and is now considering that as a new career goal.
By Heather Reifsnyder