Home Madison “Personalized Pathways” Program Offers Glimpse of Health Science Majors

“Personalized Pathways” Program Offers Glimpse of Health Science Majors


First year high school students enrolled in the Personalized Pathways program from East, West, La Follette, and Memorial high school got a personalized tour of UW-Madison’s campus and its health science related disciplines throughout the week.

The Personalized Pathways program was implemented in the aforementioned high schools during their 2017-2018 academic years. The goal of the program is to offer a close-knit group of students a specialized curriculum gravitating towards a specific career path. The initial theme of the pathway is Health Services with a variety of other career paths to be introduced in the future.

Students apply to be in the Personalized Pathways program during their 8th grade years and go on to begin their time in the program as soon as they start high school.

Being in the second year of the program, the second cohort consists of roughly 500 students across the four high schools. Students who stick with the program can potentially intern in a Health Science field after their sophomore year through the Learn, Experience, Advance and Participate (LEAP) program.  

The LEAP program puts a third-year high school student in a Health Science space for 20 hours a week for six weeks during the summer. High school interns walk away with $1000 and professional exposure to the Health Science field.

At one of the personalized tours of UW earlier this week, Personalized Pathways students initially received a brief information session on the college admissions process and financial aid. Presenters from the Financial Aid and Admissions office explored what factors contribute to a college’s tuition, what type of qualifications entitle a student to the Badger Promise and how to apply for financial aid.

Part way through the discussion, Senior Advisor Joseylyn Diaz-Valdes took the helm and informed the pathway students of the importance of a college degree and their ability to obtain success.

“Instead of thinking, what if something bad happens, think about what you will do when something great happens. Close your eyes and imagine where you will be in five years,” Diaz-Valdes said. Borrowing from the Malcolm X quote she compared a college degree to a passport saying, “Having one doesn’t make me better than anyone, but it gives me access to things I wouldn’t have without one.”

The theme of Joselyn Diaz-Valdes’ speech to the Pathway students challenged fear, addressed the power of knowing your self-worth and the importance of pushing yourself regardless of your background. Throughout her speech, the students were fully engaged and digesting the power of her words.

“Do not let fear stop you, there is greatness in every single one of you. You will be doctors, educators, engineers and architects. College isn’t easy, high school isn’t easy, life isn’t easy. Don’t let fear stop you,” she said.

One of the stops for Pathway students was UW’s School of Pharmacy where they learned about what a pharmacist does from a current student in the School of Pharmacy. Pathway students were encouraged to participate through questionnaire games. Questions like, “Do you need a bachelors degree to get into a pharmacy school?” and, “Does a pharmacist have the title of doctor?” are a few examples.

Students in the Pathways program were offered the opportunity to take a college level class on anatomy when they become juniors in high school. The course is in partnership with Madison College and follows the same collegiate-level curriculum ultimately counting for 3 credits towards their college degree.

The learning outcome of Personalized Pathways is for students to walk away with an understanding in health equity and social justice for the communities that they come from. What is unique to the program is that all the students in the program choose to be members, meaning that they have an invested interest in their curriculum.