CLEVELAND, Ohio– The nation’s first high school in a hospital gives students hands-on experience to help change healthcare in their community. 

It’s been three years since the Lincoln-West School of Science and Health opened up. While the school is located in a hospital, students aren’t just learning to become nurses and doctors. They’re learning about every field in healthcare, from environmental services to human resources and policing. Regardless of the area of concentration, students say they want to make an impact in their community.

18-year-old Maritza Colon settles into class and gets to work on essays in preparation for college. Still, she’s also preparing for graduation from the Lincoln-West School of Science and Health in Cleveland. She’s studying to be a nurse so that she can help people heal physically and mentally. Colon says, “I believe that everybody has a great soul and that they’re really great human beings on the inside. So why not take care of like that vessel.”

The senior, along with two hundred plus students, are taking regular high school classes and will soon complete an internship at Metro Health, giving them the chance to learn what it takes to serve their communities in which they live, like others that work at the hospital.

Meandering through the halls, Colon gives a short tour of her new workplace. Although she wants to be a nurse, other students, specifically seniors, will get hands-on experience and discover what it’s like to work in their area of interest too, now that they’ve had their white coat ceremony. It marks the beginning of their internship. Colon says, “I just like really hope that like if I can make a change in someone, that person can make a change and kind of like have a ripple effect.”

As she heads back to class, Colon says she’s excited about what’s ahead. She’s already received a full ride and been accepted into Tri-C’s nursing program. She’s hoping to not only make an impact in the community but also hopes her journey will serve as motivation for others that no matter where you come from, you can succeed. 

Colon graduates next spring and hopes to become a nursing assistant soon after. Right now, she has her sights set on working at a Cleveland clinic as a licensed nurse when she’s finished at Tri-C. This past June, the school’s first graduating class walked across the stage. One hundred percent of those students got accepted into college. Teachers are hoping that in the future, students will be able to get college credit at different universities outside of the small partnerships that they already have through this program.