JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Englewood High School is the first in the state to partner with Johnson & Johnson Vision to bring a program designed to give underprivileged youth career opportunities.
The program, called Bridge to Employment, focuses on health care and engineering.
Action News Jax met up with the students Friday at Florida State College at Jacksonville, where students got to experiment with robotics, 3D printers and programming.
“The more you expose students to opportunities, the more you allow them to get the knowledge and power they need to make the right choices after high school,” Jennifer Martinez, a graduation coach at Englewood, said.
Since the program started in October, more than 40 students have signed on, including Katerin Bertrand.
She moved from Honduras with her family when she was 9-years-old.
“I want to help my people — because in my country, there’s not a lot of doctors,” she said, and now she wants to become a doctor.
The program pairs up youth with mentors like Abe Alangadan, who’s with J&J Vision.
“If I can do it, you can do it. So it’s certainly that mentorship,” he said.
The mentorship is also aimed at keeping teens out of the cycle of gang violence and poverty, while also tackling the distrust between minorities and the health care system.
Camerone Byrd is also part of the program. He has nine siblings and said none of them have had an opportunity like this.
“Being successful is getting to that point in life where you’re stress-free,” he said. “It’s a great honor for me, and my family is proud of me and what I do.”
He wants to one day become a chemical engineer.
J&J Vision is working to expand the program beyond Englewood and to other surrounding counties in Northeast Florida. Nationwide and around the world it has existed for 30 years.
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