Career Program Guides Pomona Youth to Medical Profession

Career Program Guides Pomona Youth to Medical Profession
Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz, WesternU President Philip Pumerantz and Pomona Unified Superintendent Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana announce the creation of the Pomona Health Career Ladder.
Ortiz and Pumerantz sign a memorandum of agreement.
Melendez talks with Pomona students who are interested in a career in health care.

Sixth-grader Xena Perez says she wants to become a physician one day so she can take care of children in the same way her doctor helped her.

Despite her youth, Perez will not have to wait very long to begin her journey into the medical field.

Through a new partnership with Cal Poly Pomona, Pomona Unified School District and Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona youth can start as early as in the sixth grade preparing for a career in health care.

Cal Poly Pomona President Michael Ortiz joined Pomona Unified Superintendent Thelma Melendez de Santa Ana and WesternU President Philip Pumerantz in an official signing ceremony to create the Pomona Health Career Ladder on June 11 at Cortez Mathematics & Science Magnet School in Pomona.

Ortiz said the Career Ladder will guide and assist many students who have aspirations to enter the medical field.

“By providing the incentive, goals and opportunities, it's going to have a significant impact on our community,” Ortiz said.

The Career Ladder will identify mathematics and science scholars in Pomona schools, guide them through an undergraduate health/science degree at Cal Poly Pomona and into health profession programs at WesternU. The ultimate goal is to produce health care professionals who will serve the Pomona community.

It was welcome news to Perez, who was one of two sixth-graders to receive a white coat as a symbol of the many future students who will have the opportunity to participate in the Career Ladder.

“With the coat on, it represents we can achieve any goal we want. We just have to work hard,” Perez said.

Pomona Unified will host a series of six academies to educate sixth-graders and their parents about the medical profession. Students will be mentored through high school so they will be ready to study at Cal Poly Pomona.

“We're building the foundation for students to a whole range of possibilities,” Melendez said. “We're so lucky to have Cal Poly and WesternU right here in our community.”

With a health/science degree from Cal Poly Pomona, students can enroll in WesternU's health professions programs. In addition, the parties hope to generate support groups to provide private sources of financial aid for these scholars.

“This Career Ladder has extraordinary power. It can give children a vision of the future,” said Pumerantz, who first conceived the idea of the partnership more than 20 years ago.

Not only will the Career Ladder equip students with technical and scientific skills, it also hopes to instill in them the values of compassion and humanism, according to Pumerantz.

“Add the two together and the result will be absolutely extraordinary,” he said.

An advisory committee composed of representatives from all three institutions is being developed to create the details of the program, establish selection criteria and develop the processes of mentoring and supporting students throughout their time in the program.