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Sept. 21, 2007
CONTACT: Ward Mullens

EMU joins Early College Alliance to help high school students gain advantage toward high-demand health services jobs

YPSILANTI - Michigan has a growing demand for healthcare professionals. The Early College Alliance (ECA) at Eastern Michigan University could be one of the solutions.

Beginning in February 2008, the ECA will welcome about 50 high school students from four local districts to EMU, where they'll earn college credits at a personalized pace while they train for high-demand health services jobs.

The ECA's curriculum prepares students for entry-level health services jobs or degree programs in EMU's College of Health and Human Services. The program also is designed to, in subsequent years, add strands that train students in other in-demand fields. The partnership between the school districts and EMU also helps schools evaluate whether the courses they're offering are the right ones to prepare students to succeed in college.

The alliance is built upon a new "three Rs" — rigor, relevance and relationship.

"It's sort of a way of ratcheting up high school," said Washtenaw Intermediate School District Superintendent (WISD) Bill Miller, whose intermediate district was one of six in the state to receive a Michigan Department of Education Early College/Middle College grant.

The one-year, $300,000 grant will launch the Early College Alliance, but the WISD and private donors have committed to continuing it. Students and their families pay nothing.

"This represents an entirely different view of how we prepare health professionals," said Jeff Schulz, associate dean of EMU's College of Health and Human Services. "For example, in a field like nursing, these programs are becoming incredibly competitive nationwide. Not every student that wants to go into those programs gets in. I think programs like the Early College Alliance are going to put those students at an advantage. And they'll be better prepared to succeed once they do get into those classes."

The ECA's pilot class is made up of students in the Regional Career Technical Center's allied health program, which draws from Ypsilanti, Whitmore Lake, Lincoln and Willow Run schools. The pilot group has one class, UNIV 100, on campus this fall as an introduction to EMU.

When all of the students have finished the fall semester in their respective districts, they'll start taking all of their classes on EMU's campus. The program could eventually include 400-500 students from districts all over Washtenaw County, said ECA Executive Director Dave Dugger.

"I think this is a unique opportunity for students and families," said Ypsilanti Schools Superintendent Jim Hawkins "We know right now that the health-related fields are an emerging area for career choices, especially in Michigan where manufacturing jobs are simply withering away."

For anyone who wants to know more about the program, Dugger and his staff have scheduled an open forum Sept. 24, noon to 2 p.m., in room 320 of the Student Center.

For more information about ECA, call 487-4290.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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