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HFC and Workforce Center collaborate for a successful summer internship.

Kaylee Lino, a senior at Northfield High School, is interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. After visiting the high school career center, Kaylee discovered the Workforce Development program. Workforce Development Inc. is a non-profit agency that focuses on helping youth from minority populations of Southeast Minnesota gain the education, career planning and pre-vocational skill training necessary to enter and advance in the workforce.

Kaylee was put in contact with Amy Lofquist, a career counselor for Workforce Development and through an Emerging Leaders grant, Lofquist was able to place Kaylee in a paid internship with HealthFinders Collaborative after she connected with Emily Carroll at the Greenvale Community School. Carroll is HFC’s nurse practitioner and director of clinical care and was excited by her passion for health and her community. The Emerging Leaders program is designed to recognize and enhance leadership skills of youth by engaging in Career Pathways education and work experience. Getting a paid internship is an opportunity that is simply not available to most high school students. Providing remuneration for work experience is crucial to making these internships possible. The experiences that Kaylee has gained from her internship with HealthFinders Collaborative has been not only been valuable to her personally but she has been able to make a meaningful impact within the local community.

The achievement gap between white and minority students in Minnesota continues to be worse than the national average by almost every measure. Lofquist explains that the Workforce Development Program works to assist people that need some extra support to make it and be successful.”

For first generation students like Kaylee who are eager to earn their Bachelor’s degree and pursue their careers, programs that give opportunities to youth are essential in making these dreams a reality. Indeed, Kaylee praised Workforce Development as “an excellent tool to help gain experience, make connections and increase my chances of getting into the college of my choice.”

Kaylee is particularly passionate about the work done by HealthFinders. She explained that “HealthFinders’ work with uninsured communities is really important to me because many members of my family and community are uninsured. Healthcare is unaffordable for large segments of the population, so having the opportunity to address this problem is particularly significant for me.” As Career Counsellor Amy Lofquist commented, “what I love about Kaylee’s experience is that she sees the need for healthcare and now she gets to make an impact.”

The partnership between Workforce Development and HealthFinders Collaborative is particularly special because as Lofquist explained, “both organizations are supporting the same mission and population.” This partnership not only helps youth gain valuable training and experience, but also enables these young people to make an important contribution to the local community.