Pandemic makes Summer Internship Program Learning Available to All

December 14, 2020

In mid-March of this year, several high school and early college students who had made it to the final stretch of a competitive internship selection process received disappointing news. For the first time in its 17-year history, the Summer Internship Program (SIP) hosted by UCEDD in the Institute on Development and Disability at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) had to cancel its planned summer programming. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in an effort to keep hospital patients and critical staff safe, administrators at OHSU had made the difficult decision to cancel all in-person student learning opportunities.

UCEDD staff, however, did not let that stop their engagement with students. They quickly pivoted their efforts to the virtual world. Since the goal of the SIP is to provide high school and early college students the chance to explore careers in disability and health, a natural solution was to continue offering opportunities to learn from professionals and advocates in a series of live webinars. In July, the UCEDD hosted its first webinar in the series "Bridging Your Knowledge in Disability Careers." The series features people in careers such as disability studies education, mental and behavioral health care, speech-language pathology, outdoor recreation and more, sharing about their professions and educational and career pathways.

To build this series, the internship team surveyed 2020 SIP applicants and previous applicants to learn what disciplines were most popular and selected webinar topics from the students' top choices. The result was six webinars in collaboration with five other community partners for a total of 20 different speakers! The series concludes this month with the last webinar on December 17th. Recorded webinars are available to view from the OHSU UCEDD's webpage: