A Life-Changing Experience for 22 Students
In the summer of 2021, as in previous summers, the BACH Fellows program offered rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to explore careers in healthcare in a nurturing and supportive environment. Although the environment shifted from in-person to online due to the pandemic, the program was still a tremendous success.
Although interacting through a computer screen offered many challenges, this cohort of 22 students from 15 Baltimore-area schools came together to create a community that many Fellows came to consider as a family. For six weeks students had a new identity as BACH Fellows. This distinction was more than a title; it was, in the words of one Fellow, “a life changing experience.”
Fellows spent 20 hours each week learning about topics ranging from medical terminology to the importance of education in reaching career goals. Presenters from Johns Hopkins Hospital, Hopkins Bayview, University of Maryland Medical System, and LifeBridge Sinai, along with educators and mentors from Baltimore City Community College and the Baltimore City Public School System, worked with the BACH Fellows.
In addition to the focus on medical careers, the program team created a warm environment for the Fellows, allowing them to bond with one another and with the teacher-mentors. This created a safe space for these young people to discuss social and peer issues, self-acceptance, and self-care.
During the closing ceremony at the conclusion of the program, the Fellows selected a word or phrase to describe the program. Among the descriptions: innovation, encouragement, positivity, unity, and community. According to one Fellow, the program offered “a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable.” One of the many aspects of the program that they mentioned was “Wisdom Wednesdays,” a weekly student-led discussion. More than one Fellow mentioned feelings of being supported, encouraged, and loved.
Guest speaker Shawan Anderson, a registered nurse at Johns Hopkins, spoke about her own career and the various paths to becoming an RN. She encouraged Fellows to consider psychology as a career, noting the increasing need for mental health services during the pandemic.
Good Sam Education Specialist Joy Burke, sharing examples of presentations created by Fellows during the program, said, “the results were mind-blowing. You would think that these were presentations created by healthcare professionals.”
Karen Heyward-West, BACH executive director, acknowledging the challenges faced by BACH during the pandemic, thanked the teacher mentors for creating a virtual experience that was as good for the Fellows as previous in-person summer programs have been. Addressing the Fellows, she said, “This program is about you. This training, encouraging you to pursue your dreams, we’re only as good as you are. You’ve held us accountable and made sure we delivered. I’m excited about your career opportunities and what the future holds for you.”
While the BACH Fellows program is a paid internship, this cohort of participants clearly got value far beyond their stipend in the summer of 2021.
BACH Fellows Came From:
- Baltimore Leadership School
- Bard High School Early College
- Baltimore School for the Arts
- Charles Herbert High School
- City College
- Coppin Academy
- Cristo Rey
- Forest Park
- Mervo (Mergenthaler Vocational Tech)
- Notre Dame Prep
- Independent Local 1
- Polytechnic Institute
- The Seed School of Maryland
- Towson High School