A select group of eighth graders from Bruce-Guadalupe Middle School will be accepted into Carroll University early next year to prepare for careers in health and medical sciences.
The students will be part of an innovative education model fueled by a partnership between Carroll University, which is located in Waukesha, and the United Community Center, which operates Bruce-Guadalupe Middle School in Milwaukee as part of its Bruce-Guadalupe Community School.
The new education model is facilitated through a program called Preparing and Advancing Students for Opportunities in Science, or PASOS, and will give Hispanic students from underserved communities exposure to nursing, athletic training, occupational therapy, physical therapy, exercise physiology and the work of physicians’ assistants.
“This is all done to provide students the confidence, experience and ultimately the opportunity to explore and pursue these fields from a young age, academically and professionally,” said Tim Balke, director of youth and pre-college programs at the UCC.
Carroll University plans to reserve spots for a new cohort of PASOS students each year in its College of Natural Sciences and Health Sciences. College faculty and students will work with PASOS students throughout high school so they can meet the program’s academic standards and be directly admitted upon graduation, said Jane Hopp, Ph.D., dean of the college.
Students participating in PASOS, many of whom would be first-generation college students, will graduate from a range of high schools across the city. The UCC operates a K-5 school and middle school on the Bruce-Guadalupe Community School campus and advises its students on which high schools might best fit their skills and needs.
To kick off PASOS and introduce the program to students, university officials participated in Bruce-Guadalupe Middle School’s Career Day in May. In June, the university welcomed middle school students to campus for a day of learning about health and medical science majors, interacting with professors and college students, sitting in on a lecture, and experimenting with health tools and technology.
PASOS’ application process will roll out this fall, and students will be evaluated on test scores, grades, recommendations from parents and teachers, and likely essay submissions. The application process will mirror the college application process, according to Balke, so that students become familiar with the details that go into applying to schools.
Selected students will be announced mid-school year as they prepare to enter high school.
Much of PASOS’ programming is currently in the design phase. Through its programming, Carroll University plans to work more broadly with Bruce-Guadalupe students from primary grades through high school to ensure they’re taking the right courses and getting the kind of support they need to be successful.
While colleges and universities often run remedial courses for accepted students who struggle academically, this program will focus on ensuring students are adequately prepared on the front end for the demands of higher education, Hopp said.
Carroll’s education efforts in lower grade levels will guide students through health concepts and professions at a very basic level and will help them identify health care needs and issues in their communities.
“That’s how you’re going to get young people interested in this,” Hopp said, adding that PASOS’ community-minded approach is what makes the program so unique.
“I think the uniqueness of this partnership is that the partnership is with the community school, and the community school is a very critical part of the United Community Center so that this program becomes part of what is in the community as a whole,” she said.
In specifically serving Hispanic students, PASOS will help build a workforce of health care professionals who are “bilingual and bicultural” and can address the needs of the Hispanic population as it continues to grow, Balke said.
And by offering robust educational opportunities to individuals from underserved communities, program organizers hope they can cultivate a workforce that will return to those communities to treat their medical needs.
That’s where the growing needs of health care are, Hopp said.