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February 22, 2020
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SSU to help with Mi Futuro Youth Healthcare

  • Mary Ellen Wilkosz, RN, FNP-BC, PhD the Department Chair, and Director of FNP Program & Professor at Sonoma State seen in her Nichols Hall office. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
August 3, 2018

One of the recipients of this year’s Rohnert Park Foundation grants program is the Sonoma State University Nursing Department, which will use the $1,400 grant to help purchase a CPR mannequin and software to use for various presentations. One of the main events that it will be used for is Mi Futuro, a youth healthcare symposium that gives high school students a chance to explore various careers in behavioral and primary healthcare.

“We currently partner with several organizations in Sonoma County and one that we’re hoping to use for the mannequin that we’re purchasing, partially funded with the money from the Rohnert Park Foundation small grants program,” says Dr. Mary Ellen Wilkosz, Department Chair of the Sonoma State University Nursing Department. “Mi Futuro is a Santa Rosa group that was started by a Kaiser nurse who had a vision that she wanted to provide opportunities for underserved and underrepresented youth to explore careers in healthcare.”

Started by Musetta Perezarce in 2013 while she was a hospital supervisor at Kaiser Santa Rosa, the first event drew 50 students and was meant to inspire and empower youth to pursue careers in healthcare. The event has grown every year since and last year drew about 460 students. 

The one day event, this school year was held January 11, 2018 at Sonoma State University, brings together agencies and organizations in the areas of behavioral health, such as Buckelew Programs and Sonoma County Behavioral Health. It also includes social services and non-profits such as The Communication Bridge, Verity and Latino Service Providers of Sonoma County; healthcare institutions such as St. Joseph Health, Alliance Medical Center and PDI Surgical Center; and education​al organizations such as the health sciences department at SRJC and several healthcare related departments at Sonoma State University. During the eight-hour day students participate at various stations doing hands-on activities and attend medical related workshops. In the past the SSU nursing department has assisted at the different stations but this year would like to host a booth of their own.

“What we are hoping to do is to show the kids how to handle CPR,” says Wilkosz. “We purchased mannequins to do that. The grant will help purchase those and the software that does the reading and determine if the CPR is effective. It gives the feedback to the student as they are doing the CPR.”

Last year over 20 North Bay high schools participated in Mi Futuro. This year SSU is hoping to reach out to the local Rohnert Park high schools as well.

“We are very interested in reaching out to the community and being active members of the Rohnert Park community,” says Wilkosz. “I want people to know that we have a pre-licensure program as well as a program for those who already have an RN degree that want to come back for their bachelor’s degree 

and we have a master’s degree program for people who want to become family nurse practitioners.”

The Mi Futuro symposium is an excellent opportunity for young people to not only learn about the different fields in healthcare, but also to be able to ask people in the field, or studying in the field, questions regarding their daily responsibilities, their challenges, what they like best about their fields, and what kind of schooling, internships, and activities will best prepare them for those careers.