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Multiple Grants Help Altierus Campuses Take Proactive Steps to Modernize Career Education and Help Learners Succeed

November 16, 2018


“Joanna” is a single mom working night shifts to support her family, while trying to master English—a difficult second language. She’s also a student at Altierus Career College (Altierus) Tampa, who, because of a language barrier, was denied the ability to apply for work at her externship site because she was unable to pass the pre-screen questionnaire.

She’s not alone in her struggle. Another Altierus student “Maureen” was denied a job because she had difficulty adequately completing the interview in English, despite being overqualified for the position.

One thing is clear: without sufficient English language skills, landing an entry-level job in healthcare is difficult, if not impossible. Even with proper career education and skills, the language barrier can be a deal-breaker.

The adverse impact of insufficient language skills is a common thread at Altierus Tampa, where student demographics reflect a large Spanish-speaking community, as well as a recent influx of Puerto Ricans after recent hurricanes.

In addition, according to the most recent U.S. Census bureau data, about 41 percent of residents in the highly diverse metropolitan area of Tampa, Fla., experience English language barriers. Thus, it’s no surprise to learn that the student body at Altierus Tampa predominantly speaks English as a second language, and 63 percent of students self-identify as English Language Learners.

Of the 88 students who completed their externship within the last year, nearly one in four have English as a second language. Of those, 50 percent were unsuccessful in securing a job, in large part because of language barriers.

Having access to a customized English language program could be a life-changer for students like these—and it’s one of the many ideas that are born through the Campaign for Innovation program, sponsored by ECMC Foundation.

Smart Ideas from the Ground Floor

Currently in its fourth year, the Campaign for Innovation funds programs to improve academic success and career preparedness. Since 2014, ECMC Foundation has committed nearly $5 million in grants for the Campaign for Innovation to support faculty and staff development, enhance campus and classroom facilities, incorporate new learning tools and updated technology, support community partnerships, and provide wraparound support for students on campus.

Ideas are generated by those closest to the challenges—the campus faculty, staff and administrators who often see creative opportunities for process and program improvement.

This year, ECMC Foundation is once again supporting Campaign for Innovation through a variety of grants supporting each of the Altierus campus locations. Highlights include the following.

Contextualized English Learning at Altierus Tampa

Through a $53,770 grant from ECMC Foundation, Altierus Tampa will partner with ReDefiners World Languages to design and incorporate a contextualized English Learning component for Allied Health students to include core language objectives into the Introduction to the Healthcare Profession course, a core course for all Allied Health students. The pilot program will include in-person and distance (online) learning over the course of one year, making the language curriculum relevant to the students’ career coursework and increasing students’ language proficiency leading to higher job placement rates.

“I applied for the Campaign for Innovation Grant to create a partnership between Altierus Career College and ReDefiners World Languages in order to support our English Language Learners’ journeys toward success,” said Amina Medley, a recent externship coordinator at Altierus Career College, Tampa. “The Tampa campus is located within an amazing cultural melting pot, which is directly reflected in our student population. I could not be more excited about the benefits and results the Contextualized English Language Program will bring to our community.”

Medical Assistant Manikins at Altierus Norcross

Use of manikins and simulation learning tools have become a vital element of medical and health education. Thanks to a $5,662 grant, Altierus Norcross will purchase two Nasco Advanced Geri Manikins for its medical assistant program. These manikins will reinforce hands-on learning and real-life simulation early in students’ training and throughout their coursework, and build students’ confidence in core skillsets. Additionally, the manikins will be available for use at career fairs and will serve as recruiting tool to highlight the innovative, hands-on training offered at Altierus Norcross.

“While complex manikins and real-life simulation learning tools are a core component of the course curriculum, manikins are currently not incorporated during the first three modules—a time period during which we see the highest student withdrawals,” said James Marlin, Program Chair. “Early introduction of manikins has the power to heighten excitement in the classroom and is more reflective of the hands-on training students can expect throughout the program.”

New Student Association for Future Health Professionals at Altierus Norcross

A grant of $27,500 is allowing Altierus Norcross to establish a new chapter of the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) – Future Health Professionals. Over the two-year project period, the campus will establish a HOSA association, enabling Allied Health students to compete in competitions and conduct community outreach events. By participating in the chapter, students will have a new avenue to promote their professional interests, further develop their unique skillsets, and nurture a lifelong commitment to professionalism and leadership.

“The impact of adding a student association to campus is two-fold,” said Betty Wilkins/MA Faculty Member. “Students not only have access to an educational experience that promotes academic, professional and personal development, it will also help to further position Altierus as a leading institution.”

Virtual CTE Tours at Altierus Norcross and Houston Bissonnet

Through an $18,387 grant from ECMC Foundation, Altierus will create virtual campus tours of the Norcross and Bissonnet campuses, as well as multiple 360-degree video clips that bring the Altierus Career College experience to life. These online resources will provide a new outlet to showcase the campus’s innovative instructional space and curriculum delivery to prospective students, while elevating career and technical education, differentiating Altierus from others, and compelling students to enroll.

“I knew that potential students were accessing our website—this was evident when they would call and inquire about our school and mention what they saw on our website,” said Moses Delaney, Campus Director at Altierus Norcross. “I took a look at our website and asked ‘how can this be more captivating?’ Studies show that the longer a prospective student stays on the website, the more likely they are to enroll in a program of study. With this in mind, I found it to be a no- brainer: we need to breathe life into our website.”

Did you enjoy this grantee spotlight? Read more grantee spotlights here.

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