A $240,000 grant from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation will establish a program at the University of New Orleans for first-generation students who intend to pursue careers in healthcare. The goal of the UNO First-Generation Pathways to Healthcare Program is to help create a pool of medical professionals from a variety of backgrounds who will be able to thrive in their chosen fields.
“We are so grateful to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation for their generous support to build a mentoring network for first-generation students in healthcare majors,” said Steve Johnson, dean of the College of Sciences. “We look forward to providing strong support from student mentors and our numerous healthcare alumni in the metropolitan area and throughout the country.”
This program plans to target three specific areas that are often obstacles to academic success for first-generation students: financial burdens, lack of support and inequitable access to resources.
College of Sciences students in the program will get annual $4,000 scholarships, funded primarily through newly established endowed scholarships. In addition to tuition assistance, students will receive undergraduate research opportunities, access to healthcare professionals who visit campus, entrance exam preparation, training for professional school interviews, financial assistance for graduate and professional school applications, and help finding apprenticeships and internships with UNO’s healthcare partners. They will also be peer mentors to new students in healthcare majors.
According to Johnson, UNO’s College of Sciences has long-standing relationships with organizations and leaders in the regional and national healthcare communities. Additionally, UNO has a track record of placing its graduates in all areas of healthcare, Johnson said.
In spring 2024, the College of Sciences will start notifying freshmen who are eligible to apply to enter the program as sophomores.