The state’s largest private employer, Christiana Care Health System is helping to ignite students’ interest in careers through Success Pathways and Roads to Careers (SPARC), a network that links young people who have questions about professions with answers from people in the working world.
“The intent of the endeavor is to inform students in Delaware schools that you don’t have to leave the state to have a career,” said Dana Beckton, director, Diversity and Inclusion, at Christiana Care Learning Institute’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Cultural Competency and Equity.
“This is a great opportunity to demonstrate
Christiana Care’s commitment to grow and develop employees at all levels, from diverse backgrounds.”
Currently, SPARC is a pilot program in six high schools and one middle school. The schools are a mix of urban, suburban and rural locations and include two vocational schools and a charter school. The goal is to expand the program statewide.
SPARC is a public-private partnership, led by the Delaware Business Roundtable Education Committee (DBREC), Delaware Department of Education and United Way of Delaware.
An important part of the initiative is Career Cruising, an online platform in which students can connect with individuals to learn more about their careers.
“You can click on nursing and send out a general question, such as: ‘how many years did you have to go to school?’” Beckton said.
One of the first SPARC career coaches at Christiana Care is Stacy N. Burwell, program coordinator at the Learning Institute.
“Students can ask how I became a program coordinator, what was my career path,” Beckton said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to share information.”
“This is a great opportunity to demonstrate Christiana Care’s commitment to grow and develop employees at all levels, from diverse backgrounds, and build Delaware’s future workforce. This is also what makes Christiana Care a great place to work,” said Rosa M. Colon-Kolacko, Ph.D., MBA, senior vice president Christiana Care Learning Institute and chief diversity officer.
“When middle school students think about a career in a health system they think doctors and nurses,” Beckton said.
“We want to be able to illustrate that there are many professions in a health care system, including careers that don’t require a four-year degree.”
SPARC also provides a mechanism for communicating with students about work-based learning activities. For example, a number of students engaged through SPARC attended a recent Healthcare Career Expo hosted by the Learning Institute’s Center for Employee and Career Development.
“Using SPARC as a platform, we can promote other learning opportunities,” Burwell said.
Beckton notes that engaging innovative models is a reflection of The Christiana Care Way.
“This is very new, very different, a great learning opportunity for us as an organization and for the students,” she said.