Deborah Kay Mitchell, 26, decided in high school to pursue nursing, and a decade later she's still excited to continue working in and learning about her field.
"I often wonder myself how a teenager could decide at that young age what she wanted to do and actually stick with it," said Mitchell, one of the successful graduates of the University of Michigan School of Nursing GENESIS (Gaining Excellence in Nursing Education: Strength in the Sciences) program—a pipeline for middle and high school students and a retention program for admitted U-M students who are underrepresented in the health professions.
GENESIS, which has received a new $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in a third round of funding through June 2015, offers mentoring, pre-college support and summer programs. At the university level, GENESIS gives academic, financial and social support to targeted students admitted to U-M, said program director Patricia Coleman-Burns, assistant professor of nursing. Since 2002, 75 students have come through U-M in the GENESIS program.
Mitchell began considering a health-related career as a freshman at Ypsilanti High School, when she sought tutoring from U-M students in the Health Occupations Partnership in Education Program. Two years later, Mitchell applied to become a GENESIS scholar and was later accepted into the U-M School of Nursing.
Mitchell said that as an African-American student at U-M, the extra support helped her feel "less isolated," and the program requirements forced her to apply herself in ways she might not have otherwise. She finished U-M in four years, and at the same time gave birth to a daughter. She passed her national boards and now practices nursing part-time while finishing graduate school. She'll graduate with a master's degree in nursing in December.