Exploring Health CareersLocal teens in Southeast Arizona have more support and resources available for exploring health careers thanks to new partnerships forged by the Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center (SEAHEC). Arizona’s oldest Area Health Education Center (AHEC) partners with local schools, healthcare facilities, and tribal communities, to establish and support high school based Future Healthcare Leaders Clubs. (FHL)
SEAHEC’s newest alliance is with Willcox High School. Sally White, a substitute teacher at the school and coordinator of Willcox Against Substance Abuse (WASA) is onsite facilitator. The club will have vital support from Roland Knox, CEO of Northern Cochise Community Hospital, who will provide mentors and training opportunities. Vanessa McIntyre, human resources manager of Northern Cochise Community Hospital also serves as a valuable resource for Willcox Future Healthcare Leaders.
“Through SEAHEC’s program, the Future Healthcare Leaders are able to visit colleges, listen to presentations from health professionals and get the help they need with financial aid and scholarships searches,” said Tashina Machain, SEAHEC’s Coordinator, who is working to set up the new club.
“We motivate and support our youth, so they can grow and learn from health professionals and role models in their rural communities.” Ms. Machain said.
Students who join their High School’s FHL club will have opportunities to learn about health careers and build science and math, research, and leadership skills, needed for success in pursuing health careers.
Another club is in the works for Pueblo High School, a magnet school in Tucson. SEAHEC is working with Pueblo High School’s activities director, Mary Wallace to establish the club. This will expand access to higher education opportunities. Selena Llamas, of Expect More Arizona, a statewide organization devoted to improving the quality of Arizona’s education system, is club facilitator together with Pueblo High’s school nurse, Kate Straub.

Tashina Machain

Tashina Machain. SEAHEC Future Health Leaders Program Coordinator.

“I enjoy working with these students, because I grew up in a very rural area of the Navajo Reservation where there was one stop light, one gas station, and one grocery store. The nearest largest town was an hour and a half away,” said Ms. Machain. “Growing up I had to work with what I had in arms’ reach. Even for the best of students, there were limited resources to gain knowledge of what it was like on a college or university campus or even what it would take to become a health care professional.”

SEAHEC has two FHL club coordinators, who serve as role models and mentoring for the students. Ms. Machain, a recent ASU graduate, with a B.A. in Gender & Women’s Studies, partners with Claudia Velasco, a native of Nogales Arizona and Sonora, who also coordinates the Arizona Border Community Health Network, of which SEAHEC is a founding member.
Gail Emrick and Jaclyn CelayaSEAHEC has been conducting Future Health Care Leaders Clubs for over 10 years, and has published a procedural manual as a model to guide other organizations wanting to establish health career clubs. In addition to the new clubs, SEAHEC has clubs in Nogales and Rio Rico High Schools in Santa Cruz County, Bisbee, and Douglas in Cochise County and Baboquivari High School, in Sells, and Tohono O’odham High School in San Simon, both on the Tohono O’odham Nation. The Tohono O’odham clubs are implemented in partnership with the Tohono O’odham Department of Health & Human Services.
For more information about Future Healthcare Leaders Clubs please contact Ms. Machain: tashina@seahec.org.