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Economic development

Employers nominate first-generation students as ‘rising stars’ through University of St. Thomas internship program


In his scrubs, sneakers and surgical mask, Peter Nguyen looks a lot like other staff at the Houston Methodist Research Institute for Technology, Innovation & Education (MITIE™), Texas Medical Center, dedicated to using simulation in the education, training and research on health care procedures and technologies. Nguyen has helped set up labs for procedures and sterilized equipment, practiced suturing and used the robotic arm of MITIE’s da Vinci Surgical System, shadowed a nuclear pharmacist, and participated in cutting-edge technology trials. . Nguyen is a 19-year-old second-year nursing student at the University of St. Thomas who works at MITIE as part of the school’s Rising Stars internship program. “We don’t consider him a student worker — he’s a worker here,” said Homer Quintana, program project manager for Houston Methodist’s Center for Rapid Device Translation, and Nguyen’s supervisor. . “On the first day, I was able to use virtual reality,” Nguyen said. “With me, I’m a nursing student and I’m learning sutures – it’s really awesome. I’m 19 and I can do all of these things.” The Rising Stars Internship Program at the University of St. Thomas helps first-generation students pursue higher education while gaining relevant work experience related to their majors Participating students receive a minimum of $20,000 towards their total tuition in the form of scholarships, financial aid, and an annual payment of $8,000 from partner employers. This means they can gain a life-changing college education for minimal cost. In exchange, students spend 8-10 hours a week working with their partner employers. According to the Pew Research Center, first-generation college students are more likely to face greater barriers to finding a good job than their classmates with a better their professional orientation and professional relations. And, a year after graduation, they are more likely to be underemployed than other graduates whose parents were college-educated, according to data from the Center for First-Generation Student Success. The Rising Stars program was launched in 2019 with five students and four corporate partners. By the fall 2022 semester, it will have grown to approximately 185 students — including many from local districts and high schools, including Fort Bend ISD, Houston ISD and Klein ISD, Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School, KIPP Texas — Houston and YES Prep” and its first class of seniors will graduate next year. Its corporate and non-profit partners now number approximately 50, spread among others in the banking, energy and medical sectors. As of fall 2020, students in the program make up about 10% of the freshman class with about a quarter of the students on the school’s dean’s list. “At the heart of UST is the imperative to serve, especially those who have limited access to excellence in education,” said Dr. Richard Ludwick, President of UST. “With this in mind, we have launched the Rising Stars Internship Program to propel scholarship-dependent students into the professional environment as future candidates for high-level positions. The University takes special care in matching interns with employers based on students’ fields of study so that they can gain relevant work experience and understand the intricacies and opportunities within a specific industry. The Rising Stars program also offers its employer partners motivated students, who could potentially become full-time employees.Quintana has created opportunities to help expose Nguyen to the different perspectives and diverse settings within a research clinic.Quintana says the Texas Medical Center needs of clinical research nurses and arranged “shadowing work” for Nguyen, which Nguyen says helped him rec know their interests. Nguyen says his experience at MITIE “showed him practical applications and gave him a deeper understanding of the concepts and anatomy he learned in school. He became interested in equipment and instruments doctors by preparing the labs for procedures and cleaning them up afterward. “It may seem like an intern’s job, but I’m getting to know the instruments while putting them away,” he said. Nguyen is currently planning to become operating room nurse or surgical nurse practitioner, but she is excited to explore other avenues in nursing. Practical career work is only part of the internship experience. Mentorship is Hiring an intern and being a mentor is “one of the most meaningful things you can do with your life,” said Schuyler Tilney, president of energy services and equipment for Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. , and host of a St agaire rising stars. Tilney has, over several years, mentored many high school and first-generation student interns and has taken the time to connect his current and former interns with each other; they began to build supportive and family-like relationships with each other, he said. He urges employers to take the time to get involved in the lives of their interns or ensure a team member does. Tilney spent the 2020-2021 school year meeting one-on-one with his Rising Stars intern and teaching him about oil and gas business, corporate finance, and investment banking, which tied into his accounting course. Tilney has turned her attention this school year to teaching her about business and helping her develop life and career skills, including how to write a good resume and search for jobs online. Matt Braly, Regional President and Executive Vice President of Third Coast Bank in Houston, and his team helped his Rising Stars intern understand the world of banking and the complexities of personal finance and real estate investing from a banking perspective with real apps. Braly also spoke with his intern, a freshman, about life, the college experience and its challenges, including how they fit together. For a first-generation college student with no family to offer guidance, an internship provides a first-hand understanding of the importance of a college education and success in life. Braly also recognized a positive change in the student’s attitude towards the university, in general. Rising Stars trainees, he said, are grateful and eager to learn. Nguyen agrees. “It’s wonderful that we’re all growing up and being part of this adult experience in school. People who don’t have the Rising Stars program don’t have those types of internship experiences. We’re lucky to have these kinds of opportunities and to work for our tuition as well,” he said. veterans the opportunity to mentor and inspire a new generation for their businesses and industries. Interns such as Nguyen are seen as potential recruits upon graduation, he said, because they have had the chance to learn about a company, and about a company’s identity and values. “I want to make sure that Peter understands the value of what he does and of himself,” Quintana said. “We have every interest in seeing him succeed. develop their s businesses and help all Houstonians learn relevant skills and connect to great careers that increase their economic opportunity and mobility. Learn more.

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