MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The third class of Project SEARCH interns graduated from the WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital program today (May 19). The cohort of eight students rotated within the organization, gaining real-world experience.
Project SEARCH is an internship experience for high school seniors or recently graduated students with mild and moderate special needs. The program was first established at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996, and WVU Hospitals (WVUH) is the first Project SEARCH site in the state.
Once accepted into the program, student interns report to Ruby Memorial Hospital instead of their home school district classroom for the entire school year. Student interns rotate through job roles at the WVU Hospitals. Project SEARCH serves as the student interns’ capstone educational experience and often leads to employment once the internships are complete.
The graduates include:
- John "Jack" Antonik, a graduate of University High School, who has accepted a full-time position in WVUH Supply Chain.
- Americus Bunnell, a graduate of Morgantown High School, who has accepted a casual position at the WVUH Outpatient Pharmacy.
- Liberty Bunnell, a graduate of University High School, who has accepted a part-time position in WVUH Nutrition Services.
- Katelyn Conard, a graduate of Morgantown High School, who is employed as a casual worker with WVUH Infection Control.
- Ethan Copenhaver, a graduate of University High School, who has accepted a full-time position in WVUH Central Transport.
- Jada Johnson, a senior at Grafton High School, who completed rotations at Bright Horizons Child Development Center, Radiology, and Environmental Services.
- Travis Stone, a graduate of Grafton High School, who has accepted a full-time position in WVUH Nutrition Services.
- Ryan Wolfe, a graduate of Grafton High School, who has accepted a full-time position in WVUH Central Transport.
“It has been a pleasure to work with this cohort of interns,” Kimberly Hartsell, Volunteer Services director and Project SEARCH business liaison and program coordinator, said. “Their transformations from their first day with us to graduation is astounding. These students have learned how to work as members of a team and communicate with their peers and managers. Several of them also learned how to drive and obtained their driver’s licenses through the program. The skills they have learned will help them be successful as they enter the workforce.”
Project SEARCH is coordinated and hosted by WVU Medicine and supported by the West Virginia Department of Education. Together, in partnership with other community organizations, they will create a one-year immersion experience that combines classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. Participating community organizations include:
- WVU Medicine
- WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities
- West Virginia Department of Education
- West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services
- local school systems in Marion, Monongalia, Preston, and Taylor counties
- PACE Enterprises
- Mitsubishi Electric Foundation
- Bright Horizons Childcare Development Center
For more information on WVU Medicine, visit WVUMedicine.org.