Contra Costa High School Students Getting an Excellent Jump on their Health Care Careers

Press Release

Rosa Pena, photo provided by The Contra Costa County Office of Education

WALNUT CREEK, Calif., – On a summer Thursday morning, 10 Contra Costa County high school students meet in a small conference room, located in a Walnut Creek Kaiser building. Today is their weekly professional-development day, led by their Career Technical Education ROP (CTE/ROP) instructor, John Grigsby.


Through the Kaiser Permanente’s KP LAUNCH Summer Internship, which includes a Contra Costa County Office of Education’s (CCCOE) CTE/ROP course component, students have an opportunity to learn about and explore different health care options and enhance their technical and leadership skills.  KP LAUNCH enables these students to work a 40-hour week for 8 weeks during their summer vacation as health care interns.


The interns’ workweeks include four days at a designated Kaiser hospital, and one day of in-class professional development. On this particular day, Grigsby’s curriculum featured him teaching a hands-on CPR workshop, an informative presentation (featuring many questions and answers) by a Kaiser general practitioner, and two local Toastmasters’ members who presented a proactive presentation on interviewing for a job.


During the school year, Grigsby is the athletic trainer at Miramonte High School, in Orinda, where he also teaches CTE/ROP sports medicine and advanced sports medicine. While serving as teacher of this summer class of interns, he oversees their educational curriculum, attendance to the worksites and classroom, and their grades for this high school course. The Kaiser Launch program provides the students with their internship job placements at local Kaiser hospitals, on-the-job training, and their salaries.


Among this impressive group of interns are Rosa Peña, of Antioch, and Zijian Deng, who resides in Walnut Creek.


Intern Rosa Peña will return to Dozier-Libbey High School, in Antioch, later in August, for her senior year. Last year, she was enrolled in the ROP/CTE sports medicine class. Peña said that she loved the course, which included learning how to wrap athletes’ injuries and potential injuries with medical and sports tape, as well as becoming CPR certified. She plans to take the ROP/CTE first responders class this coming year.


During her KP Launch internship, Peña is working at the Antioch Kaiser’s Health Education Department, “On a normal day I do phone call reminders, prepare for classes such as pre-natal, health, children classes, couples, etc.,” reports Peña.  “In addition, I insert information into health connect for patients that have written down who they want as their health decision makers. I also help with sales, because we do sell T-shirts, sweaters, compression socks, and water bottles.”


Peña adds, “With this job, I have learned how important health education really is! We do a lot of things for patients, and everyday is something different. We never have an agenda to go by, many members come in with different questions, and different needs. What I like about my job is putting a smile on patients’ faces. It’s our job to make sure they leave Kaiser with a smile on their face. I love how I get to communicate with patients and help them so everything is easier for them.”


After finishing high school, Peña plans to attend U.C. Davis, majoring in neurology, and then will follow the path to become a surgeon.


Intern Zijian (J.J.) Deng  is currently working at the Local Member Services Department, inside the Walnut Creek Kaiser Permanente. This job keeps Deng quite busy, because many Kaiser members get confused about which department they need to contact in order to get the service they desire. “My job is to direct members to the right departments, handle concerns, look up the copays and benefits the members have on their health insurance coverage, and assist those experiencing difficulties using the website,” says Deng.


Deng enjoys human interaction, which is a big part of his internship, as he communicates with the Kaiser members. “I get to see all types of people and provide their problems with solutions. I always like seeing a smile on the member’s face when we solve their problems!”


This internship in Deng’s first job, he’s been really surprised by how helpful and friendly all his coworkers are. Zijian adds, “As I delve more into the program, I’m slowly discovering that it is not just all doctors and nurses running around in the hospital. There are all sorts of departments doing different things, and their jobs are just as important as any other position in the hospital. Which really opens up a lot more career options if a person is looking into the health care field.”


In his past junior year at Las Lomas, Deng took the CTE/ROP medical technology ROP class. “I really enjoyed the course and learned quite a bit.”


After completing his KP Launch internship, Deng will soon begin his senior year at Las Lomas, where he’ll be finishing up all his high school classes, while also applying to colleges. “I am currently applying to UC San Diego, Davis, and Irvine, as a psychology major, and will pursue the career of psychiatry.”


No doubt, our country’s health care future will certainly be strong with such incoming passionate people as Peña, Deng, and their program’s fellow students, along with the guidance of their CTE/ROP teacher John Grigsby and their KP Launch supervisors, co-workers, and Kaiser members