For more than a decade, the Health Career Ladder (HCL) has proudly stood as a formal, collaborative alliance between WesternU, Pomona Unified School District, Sherman Indian High School, and Anawakalmekak International University Preparatory of North America. This exceptional program has been instrumental in empowering both students and parents on their journey toward becoming healthcare professionals, “from our community for our community”. Additionally, it plays a vital role in promoting healthier lifestyles within a population that faces the challenges of lifestyle-related diseases, which have reached epidemic proportions in Pomona. The Health Career Ladder is an umbrella that encompasses the Pomona Health Career Ladder, American Indian Health Career Ladder, and Lebanon Health Career Ladder. Our collaborative has created a network and pathways to assist parents and students in becoming physicians, dentists, nurses, physical therapists, pharmacists, physician assistants and a range of other health professionals.
This collaborative mounts multiple elements of programming, including monthly Academies running six simultaneous classrooms, with an average of 400 participants. The cornerstone of this effort has been Parent Plenary sessions, focusing on health and wellness, well as providing a roadmap for parents to help their children to become college graduates and health professionals. Simultaneous Spanish translation and childcare has always been offered to allow parents to fully participate and feel comfortable with the opportunities for health and education offered in their community. Over 45% of our parents regularly opt to use the translation and this has become a conduit for spirited engagement. While parents are in their dedicated session, students engage in hands-on learning about science and health professions to build their skills and interest. We have the pleasure of having a member of one of our earliest PHCL classes who joined us in 7th grade; she attended the public Palomares Health Sciences Academy, Pitzer college and is now matriculating with us in our College of Optometry this fall.
Over 100 WesternU students from all professions and walks of life share their life experience, expertise and stories with students and parents. Future health care professionals, in turn, learn from the Pomona community to improve their patient communication and cultural sensitivity. These WesternU student stories share their personal struggles to overcome economic, language and cultural barriers, stories which visibly inspire and motivate parents. The Pomona HCL is one component of a WesternU integrated multi-tiered pipeline effort to connect local pre-K – 12 and undergraduate students with resources, including STEM education, standardized test preparation, intensive college level programing and early admissions programs with local institutions, the latter including all the CSU campuses in southern California.