TENNERTON – Upshur County Schools officials and representatives of Community Care of West Virginia recently celebrated a new internship program that will allow Buckhannon-Upshur High School students to explore future career paths right in their own backyard.
The program offered 13 B-UHS students a six-week summer program where participants could work in various areas of Community Care’s operations, including accounting, pharmacy, billing, coding, compliance, credentialing, human resources, IT, maintenance and office management.
This six-week experience will allow students to explore future career paths during the summer, and at the Upshur County Board of Education’s most recent meeting June 14, Trish Collett, chief operations officer of Community Care of West Virginia, said the federally qualified health center is invested in the Buckhannon-Upshur community.
“Part of that is taking care of the young and inspiring talent in those folks,” Collett shared. “We also wanted to show the students what is available to them and the opportunities that exist in their own communities.”
Collett said in May, Community Care of W.Va. sent members of their leadership team to assist students in building a resume and a cover letter.
“Students then came to our administrative offices and interviewed for the potential positions,” Collett said. “About two weeks ago, the students were placed in different areas of Community Care. We are really excited to have these kids and they are our future. We look forward to expanding this program in the future into other communities we serve.”
Collett said one of the student interns has asked to remain working at Community Care of West Virginia following the completion of the internship program. Leah Chidester, also from Community Care, said the interns were a true asset.
“Since I met them, they have already taught me a lot as well,” Chidester said, prior to introducing the interns present at the BOE meeting. They included Alexis Butler, Ashley Catlin and Casey Nolan.
“We are so happy to have each of them,” Chidester added.
Collett said as part of the internship program, Community Care is bringing in members of the community each Friday to provide mentoring and teach life skills to the participants.
“They are also given the opportunity to learn about banking, insurance, city government, county government, state government, communications, college and university life, police investigation and the production of television shows,” Collett said.
In a press release, Upshur County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison said over the years, Upshur Schools has built a tremendous partnership with Community Care of West Virginia.
“They have continually developed new programs and worked with us to determine the best ways to serve and prepare our students for the future,” Harrison said.
During the BOE meeting, Harrison thanked Randall Roy, assistant principal of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, for being “instrumental in helping get the Community Care internship program up and running.”
“He worked very hard in selecting students who would profit from being involved in this endeavor,” Harrison said. “We are very happy the partnership we have developed with Community Care has led to these internship programs. Thank you, Mr. Roy.”
In a phone interview following the BOE meeting, she explained to begin the program, they took recommendations from B-UHS teachers.
“Our communications director and human resources director went to the school one afternoon and helped students prepare their resumes and cover letters,” Collett told My Buckhannon. “We set up interviews and students went to Community Care in Buckhannon on Main Street where they went through the interview process with the department heads.”
“We have a school-based health clinic and we have completed different projects over the years,” she added. “This was one of those projects that we all felt like would help give back to the community and give kids the opportunity to look at what an organization does, help build self-confidence and help them make future decisions on their careers. Our human resources director explained to the participants that we can now be a great resource for them to use when they are applying for technical schools or colleges.”
Collett said part of the mission of Community Care is to care for the communities in which they are located.
“You always hear that it takes a village to raise children and it truly does,” Collett said. “If we as a community surround our children and give them parts [of life experience and education] they may not necessarily be getting, they will be stronger adults.”
Collett said as she talks with the interns, she sees how much the program is helping them.
“Each Friday we have invited community members to help with living skills,” she said. “The first Friday, we brought in the banking system. Some of the students did not have bank accounts so they were able to learn about banking and when they went to one of the local banks, they were able to open their own bank accounts so they can cash their first paychecks. We had Carol Smith, the Upshur County Clerk, come and speak about county government, and she gave them a tour of the Upshur County Courthouse.”
Collett said Buckhannon Robbie Skinner is soon coming in to talk about city government and Sen. Bill Hamilton, R-11, will speak with the interns about state government.
“We are trying to give the interns a wide variety of exposure to other folks and learn about the community and state,” Collett said. “We must set a positive example, and these are the positive strong exposures we want to give to the students for the future. We encourage other community members to become involved in this type of mentoring and internship type of program because it has been heart-fulfilling. We love working with our young adults.”