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SISD students participate in one-year internship program known as Project Search

Students participating in Project Search

Ten Socorro Independent School District students are participating in a year-long internship program known as Project Search.

The program assists students with disabilities in their last year of high school to learn employability skills and transition from high school into the workforce.

The SISD program is in partnership with The Hospitals of Providence-East and the students are participating in a variety of internships at the hospital.

“Our ultimate goal for these students is to get them employed,” said Monica Gasca, Project Search instructor for SISD. “Whether they get hired here at the hospital or elsewhere.”

Students in Project Search not only acquire competitive, transferable, and marketable skills, they gain independence, confidence, self-esteem, and maturity.

Sarah Jimenez, a senior at Montwood High School, said she is a proud participant of Project Search.

“Working at the hospital is the best thing in my life,” Jimenez said. “My parents are so proud of me as well as my teachers and my friends.”

The students participate in three rotations within the internship to explore various career paths. Each student works with a team that includes his or her family, a teacher, job coaches, and a rehabilitation counselor.

They work closely together to create an employment goal and support the student during the transition from school to the workforce.

The current internships in rotation include information desk, sterile processing, oncology, central supply, engineering, cafeteria, gift shop, laundry, surgery, and environmental services.

Jordan Golston, a senior from Socorro High School who works as a transporter, said he enjoys working for the hospital.

“I like helping people,” Golston said. “I like working at the hospital because I learn so much from it.”

Socorro ISD has three transition programs for students with disabilities, the Community Access Program (CAP), the Vocational Access Class (VAC), and Project Search. After Project Search, students may seek employment at the hospital or anywhere their skill sets are needed.

Project Search and the SISD transition team’s efforts are making a difference as evidenced by their employment placement rate. Last year, Project Search was successful in helping 87 percent of the SISD students in the program to obtain employment within the community. According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics data, the national employment average for individuals with disabilities for 2020 was 19.7 percent.

Published October 7, 2021

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