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Students at Premier High School of Brownsville will now have an opportunity to complete a certified nursing assistant (CNA) program free of cost while still in high school.

“We are very excited to be able to provide our students with this opportunity as it not only gives them experience to help them decide if they want to pursue a career in health science, but also saves them $2,166 in health science classes,” says  Premier High School of Brownsville’s Campus Director Maria Alvarado.

Through the Cameron County Education Initiative (CCEI), Premier High School of Brownsville students currently in Career and Technical Education (CTE) classes will be able to complete half the courses they need for the full medical assistant program free of cost to them. The program typically costs $4,500 per student, including all the supplies and takes nine months. Premier High School students can complete the program in half the time for half the cost by taking the six transferable CTE classes at their high school and taking the remaining credits at CCEI to complete the certification.

Sylvia Cardenas, the vice-president of community relations for CCEI, hopes that the program will have a positive effect on the students. “Our goal is to provide a good quality education at a reasonable cost. We don’t want our students bogged down by debt. Instead we want this program to be a stepping stone to becoming a registered nurse (RN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN),” she says.

In addition to providing students with the skills they need to get an entry level position, CCEI also offers students job placement services. Most of its students receive job offers at the end of their required 200 hour externship.

While they were not able to take advantage of the new partnership between CCEI and Premier High School, four Premier High School of Brownsville graduates are currently enrolled in the CCEI program for the 2017-2018 school year.

One of those students is Cinthia Rodriguez. She had dropped out of school for a period of time and came to Premier High School to finish her high school credits. With the help of her teachers, she graduated and is now attending CCEI with a scholarship.

“I want to continue studying and become an RN. This program is helping me reach my dream, and the scholarship I received for the program has made this first step possible,” says Rodriguez.

Alvarado believes this program is a great opportunity for her students, “We have a lot of at-risk students and they don’t think they can or want to go on to a university. This program can not only get them ready for a medical career, but it also helps them decide if they want to continue their education.”

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