A MiraCosta College initiative boosting the reading and writing skills of students interested in pursuing an allied health career has been recognized with an Exemplary Program Award from the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.
The program, HealthStart, targets allied health students in need of developmental – commonly known as remedial – English. But unlike a typical developmental English program, HealthStart focuses on allied health subjects in its writing and comprehension lessons, thus connecting developmental courses to students’ academic and career interests and goals.
The initiative is a comprehensive one. Several academic departments are involved, and students work with a counselor and a program coordinator throughout the year to help keep them on track with their education plan. The result: of the 26 students committed to a career in allied health majors who were recruited for the program’s first year, all but one completed a developmental English course. And all but two of the 25 students who moved on to a college-level composition course passed that class.
“I feel so honored to teach and support the success of amazing allied health students who are just starting out, full of hope and enthusiasm for their futures,” said Teresa Guinon, a MiraCosta College English professor who is among those leading the program. “I am in awe of their motivation and dedication, and I love this HealthStart experience as much as the students.”
Indeed, students are among HealthStart’s biggest fans. “The reading is pretty challenging, it’s pretty dense, and there are a lot of terms that you might not be familiar with, but it’s all in a subject matter that you’re interested in, so you’re motivated to push ahead,” said Karina Barajas.
MiraCosta was one of just two recipients of the 2016-17 Exemplary Program Award, the other being Reedley College in Central California. They were selected for developing strategies that use contextualized teaching and learning strategies, focusing on interdisciplinary collaboration, and creating clear steps in developing a pathway for students reach their educational goals.
“These programs have had impressive success in closing equity gaps and increasing our students’ access to support services and innovative instruction,” said California Community Colleges Board of Governors President Cecilia V. Estolano, who noted that many of the impacted students come from underrepresented communities. “MiraCosta College and Reedley College represent two institutions that have dedicated time and resources to helping all students reach their fullest potential.”
The annual Exemplary Program Award is sponsored by the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Award nominees must show the overall success of their program; a contribution to faculty engagement; demonstrate a response to the needs of students, faculty and the college; collaborate with other programs on campus or within the community; provide evidence that demonstrates how the program supports the community college mission; and can be used as models for other community colleges.
HealthStart has been so successful that MiraCosta College officials are contemplating expanding it to include other subjects in the future.
HealthStart was launched two years ago with the help of a $15,000 grant from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.