DaVita Healthcare Partners and JA create Pathways to Success

DaVita Healthcare Partners volunteer Jennifer Sherma assists students with career research
DaVita Healthcare Partners volunteer Jennifer Sharma assists students with career research

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Right? But what if you don’t know what steps to take to get to your desired destination? Or, worse yet, what if you don’t have a destination at all?

Kidney care company DaVita Healthcare Partners partnered with JA-Rocky Mountain to develop JA Pathways to Success, a program that addresses just these questions.

“After hosting a JA job shadow experience at DaVita, where very few students knew what they wanted to do after college and what steps they’d need to take, our Chief People Officer suggested that we partner with JA to create a solution,” said DaVita Healthcare Partners People Services Project Manager Jennifer Sharma. “Pathways to Success is the outcome.”

A program designed to encourage students to think critically about their plans for the future, Pathways to Success is an eight-session curriculum, which includes two in-depth mentoring sessions that allow small groups of students to work closely with a DaVita Healthcare Partners professional who can provide them with the real-world knowledge and guidance to help them make informed choices and understand their next steps.

“Students seriously think about what they want their lives to look like, conduct necessary research, and map out the steps they need to take to get there,“ explained Meg Chapman, JA manager of volunteer engagement, who helped develop the curriculum.

Learners who participate in JA Pathways to Success end the program with a defined plan for their post-high-school years, whether that involves a college education, a trade school, or an entirely different path. They have the knowledge and skills to adapt their plans as they go, they know what the typical salaries are for their desired professions and they take away a sense of where the biggest future opportunities are in their chosen fields.

“JA Pathways to Success teaches students the skills they need to think long-term and to explore and consider their college and career paths,” said Lauren Bielski, Internships Coordinator at DSST Green Valley Ranch High School where the program was piloted. “Even if they change their minds, they’ll have the research and analysis skills to chart a new course as needed.

“The business volunteer connection is also really powerful for students,” added Bielski. “They listen differently to the DaVita Healthcare Partners professionals who are working in business, and they learn the importance of professionalism and advocating for themselves.”

For students, the program has been a welcomed opportunity to take time out to think about and to discuss their interests, values, priorities and plans for the future.

“I loved the program because it helped me realize what there is to accomplish before I go into the career of my dreams,” shared one DSST student.  Another student said, “Being a part of the JA Pathways to Success program has opened my eyes to financial aid and to how I go about picking a college or job.” And one other program participant said, “I finally realized how expensive college is and how paying for college will affect my future.”

JA Pathways to Success was piloted in one school this spring and will be available to more students during the 2016/17 school year.

For the students who have already completed the JA Pathways to Success program presented by DaVita Healthcare Partners, the journey of a thousand miles is well underway.