MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital welcomed its second cohort of Project SEARCH interns on Aug. 30. Five interns from Monongalia, Marion, and Taylor counties are participating in the program this year.
Project SEARCH is an international transition program that has served more than 30,000 youth with disabilities, consisting of a nine-month non-paid internship training program, learning routine and systematic tasks leading to competitive employment. The program was first established at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996, and Ruby Memorial Hospital serves as the first Project SEARCH host site in the state.
“We are thrilled to be hosting our second cohort of Project SEARCH students here at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital,” Colleen Sybert, WVU Medicine vice president of Human Resources, said. “COVID presented some unexpected obstacles for our first class of Project SEARCH that we had never faced before, but our interns were able to adapt and succeed. We look forward to taking that knowledge from our first year and using it to make this year even better. This year’s interns are just as eager to learn job skills and expand their abilities.”
Project SEARCH is coordinated and hosted by WVU Medicine and supported by the West Virginia Department of Education. Together, in partnership with other community organizations, they create a one-year immersion experience that combines classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations.
The interns spent the first days of their internship participating in mandatory trainings and learning what it means to work in a healthcare environment. The Project SEARCH team held a Match Day on Sept. 24 for the interns to learn where they would be spending their first rotations. More than 20 departments are participating Project SEARCH this year, offering a wide range of opportunities.
Meet the interns
Justin Michael is from Mannington and is a North Marion High School graduate. He said he wants to learn skills that will help him find a job when he completes his internship. He enjoys playing games, racing cars, and playing his guitar. His first rotation is in Radiology.
Lane Fox is from Fairmont and is an East Fairmont High School graduate. He enjoys working out and is interested in personal training. His first rotation is with the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute.
Julianna “Jules” Heldreth is from Fairmont and is an East Fairmont High School graduate. She enjoys working with small children and lives life to the fullest. Her first rotation is with the WVU Medicine Children’s Child Life Program.
Garritt Neel is from Grafton and is a senior at Grafton High School. He enjoys working with his hands and looks forward to graduating. He plays guitar in his spare time. His first rotation is with the Facilities Department.
Ben Chicchi is from Maidsville and is a University High School graduate. He has a cat named Zumba and enjoys telling others about the weather. Ben looks forward to camping on the weekends. His first rotation is in the Friends Gift Shop.