Project/Search graduates Six Students in Inaugural Year

FAIRBANKS, AK -- A graduation was held last week at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for students participating in the inaugeral Project Search program.

The graduation for six local students who completed the the first–ever Project/Search program in the Interior was more than just a graduation.

It was a celebration for the students, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and Fairbanks Memorial Hospital for a successful completion of year one.

"These are students who are still the school districts, ages from 18 to 22 who maybe never had a job before and this gives them the opportunity to come to a safe place, learn some transferable skills and learn the soft skills, to dress for work, how to show up on time," said Nicole Welch, HR Consultant for Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and the Denali Center.

The goal for each student participant is competitive employment.

Project Search provides work experience with emphasis on training in employability for youths with disabilities in the hope of successful transition for school to the real world job market.

"The idea is help the community, to provide qualified applicants to the community and to help these young people get that opportunity because they will have the skills to go out into the community and find jobs," said Welch.

Students attended the program for the school year, interning at Fairbanks Memorial and rotating between several different departments, learning employment and independent living skills in the process.

"These students eat in the cafeteria every day and there are "Hellos" and people have learned them by name and I think the departments that have had interns have embraced them and it has become like a family," Nicole Welch said.

The program is already off to a successful start.  Of the six graduates given completion certificates, one has been offered and has accepted employment at FMH.

The program can be hosted by a variety of businesses and industries, however, other departments at FMH have already guaranteed Project Search will be at the hospital for year two.