Students work on a project for the Health Careers Academy at San Marcos High School. | Credit: Courtesy of Marcene Tate

San Marcos High School was recently awarded a grant of more than $670,000 to expand and enhance its Health Careers Academy, a three-year program that provides students with an academic and technical foundation for pursuing careers in the health-care industry. “With this grant, we will have opportunities to expand our Health Careers Academy in a smart way,” said Marcene Tate, program director for the academy. 

Credit: Courtesy of Marcene Tate

The grant was awarded through California’s K-12 Strong Workforce Program, meant to encourage collaboration between K-12 schools and community colleges and support programs that provide essential knowledge for academic and career success. Tate and Tiffany Carson, the high school’s coordinator of college and career awareness, authored the application for the grant. 

The grant will be used to purchase state-of-the-art medical equipment, said San Marcos Principal Kip Glazer, and provide staff professional development and certification, as well as transportation and field trip opportunities for students, such as college visits and tours of health-care facilities. “We currently do all of this,” Tate said, “but with additional funding, we will be able to offer more robust experiences.” Funding will also go toward expanding the internship and job-shadow opportunities, as well as increasing the amount of industry certifications offered to students. 

The Health Careers Academy celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and is one of the longest-running career technical education programs in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. The program currently has more than 150 students enrolled, made up of sophomore, junior, and senior students. Unlike many other courses struggling with student engagement during the pandemic, with the switch to online learning and lack of out-of-classroom activities, Tate said students have continued to actively participate in the program. “I think this really helped the students see the amazing importance of quality health-care workers,” Tate said.

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