By Christian Soto, former Excellus BCBS intern
“We have a lot of tough situations that are ongoing, and it’s easy to get discouraged and want to quit,” Garcia, a 2016 graduate of the Integrated Arts and Technology High School in the Rochester City School District, stated. “I tell my brother and sister that quitting is not an option if they want to succeed.”
Garcia was one of four Rochester city high school students who recently completed year-long internships at Excellus BCBS. They also earned substantial college scholarships, and they all completed high school in a school district in which only about half of students graduate.
The students’ success is the latest in a string of programs at Excellus BCBS which have been designed to help urban students succeed in school, serve as role models, and mature into successful professionals.
“We’re honored by the chance to help these remarkable young people, as we work to develop a future workforce that is highly-skilled and inclusive,” Christopher Booth, chief executive officer, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, stated.
Excellus BCBS also offers scholarships and internships to college students. It’s not unusual for students in Excellus BCBS’s high school program to return as college interns. Many of the high school students often pursue higher education with full scholarships.
Garcia, for example, was the salutatorian of her graduating class, and spoke during her graduation ceremony. She received a full scholarship to St. John Fisher College to pursue a career in nursing.
All of the following Excellus BCBS high school interns achieved similar success:
Calvin Butler, an Edison Career and Technology High School graduate, received a full scholarship to The College at Brockport: State University of New York. Butler plans to major in business administration, and minor in human resources.
Kerwin Rodgers, who graduated from Vanguard Collegiate High School, will attend the Rochester Institute for Technology to study accounting. He is in the Rochester City Scholars Program, which provides full tuition to students graduating from a Rochester city school.
Jasmine Allen graduated from James Monroe High School, and will attend Keuka College to pursue a degree in marketing with a $58,000 presidential scholarship. Jasmine also spoke during her high school’s graduation ceremony.
“We’re all proud of our students’ accomplishments,” Joseph Searles, corporate director, diversity and workforce inclusion, Excellus BCBS, stated. “They’re driven, talented, and extremely hard working. We’ve appreciated the fresh ideas and insights that they’ve brought to our organization.”
During the internship, the students worked in fields including marketing and sales, digital marketing, electronic business, and human resources. The students said the internships helped them develop as students, employees, and as individuals.
Allen, for example, learned how to use HTML code, and Butler learned the ins and outs of human resources. Rodgers and Butler explored different departments and functions at Excellus BCBS, initiating monthly workshops in which they met a variety of employees, and discussed different careers and professions.
In addition, Sady Fischer, Excellus BCBS’s inclusion programs and outreach coordinator, met with the interns once a week to touch base on their experiences, and to guide them through the work environment. Other employees also mentored the students, and helped them network with co-workers.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Jasmine, Jazlin, Calvin and Kerwin,” Fischer stated. “They’ve all worked hard to get to where they are today, overcoming many obstacles, and taking advantage of every opportunity to grow. I know they’ll continue to excel, and inspire wherever they go.”
According to Excellus BCBS officials, the organization also received a pleasant surprise in June. The health plan sponsored a scholarship during the Ibero American Action League’s annual Gala and Hispanic Scholarship Recognition Awards.
The winner of the 2016 Excellus BCBS scholarship? The health plan’s very own high school intern, Jazlin Garcia.