CHAMPS: A Pathway to the Future
A high school mentorship on our Oakland campus aims to diversify the medical workforce.
This fall, Edwin Guajardo heads into his fourth year of college, majoring in Biological Sciences at UC Riverside with plans to pursue a career in medicine.
Unlike most freshmen, Edwin entered college with real-world experience in the medical field. He was one of the nearly 100 East Bay high school students who annually participate in the Community Health and Adolescent Mentoring Program for Success (CHAMPS) on our Oakland campus.
The three-year internship introduces underrepresented minority high school students to health professions. Students participate in clinical rotations throughout the hospital and receive tutoring, guidance on applying to college, and psychosocial support. Most participants are from low-income families, and more than half are the first in their families to attend college.
Since launching in 2000, CHAMPS has proven remarkably successful. The high school graduation rate for CHAMPS students is 96 percent − compared to 65 percent for the Oakland Unified School District last year − and every CHAMPS graduate will go on to college, while fewer than half of Oakland grads will.
“CHAMPS definitely allowed a step up from some of my peers,” Edwin says. “I gained a bunch of experience, primarily due to the fact that I was able to shadow so many different careers, so I was able to learn first-hand.”
Edwin’s experience was especially meaningful for him given his personal experience with UCSF Benioff Oakland: He was treated at the hospital as a cardiology patient, diagnosed with a heart rhythm disorder during his sophomore year of high school.
“My ambition to get into the medical field is bigger now than ever before,” Edwin says. “There is still a huge gap in the medical field for people of color. I want to help with closing that gap, as it will allow for more comfort for my patients, either in regards to language, or simply being able to see a doctor of color."
An innovative UCSF residency also develops caregivers who are committed to health equity. The Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved (PLUS) program trains the next generation of leaders to work toward a health care system that allows every child to reach their full potential.