WSU Tri-Cities nursing program helps high school students

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - It's one of the toughest fields to get into - but also one of the most important. But those looking to go into nursing while here in the Tri-Cities have even more options. Wazzu Tri-Cities is expanding its nursing program. The education begins with high schoolers, to train them here and keep them here.

Keala Lilinoe is a Pasco High senior. She's been involved in the WSU Tri-Cities nursing program since she was a freshman.

"It's like getting your feet wet, seeing what it is, actually hands on with things," said Keala Lilinoe.

During eight workshops every school year, students get hands-on experience in the field of nursing. WSU Tri-Cities just received a million dollar grant to expand the program even more and offer training to more high school kids in the Tri-Cities.

"It's an actual great resource for students, especially for some that are confused with school in general," said Pasco graduate Francisco Hernandez.

In the past three years, more than 250 students have taken part in this nursing program through their high school. 90-percent who graduated went on to community or university colleges. 80-percent of those students are currently pursuing a nursing degree.

"The program helped me focus on it and tell me that's what I want to do for sure," said Pasco graduate Kayla Rodriguez.

Francisco and Kayla both participated as seniors while at Pasco High last year. Now they're both at CBC, pursuing their dream in the medical field.

"I'm a lot more confident now, I have a better idea of everything, like what a nurse actually does, what kind of job I would have to do," said Rodriguez.

The nursing program reaches out to students at Pasco, Chiawana and Delta here in the Tri-Cities, as well as Grandview and Davis High Schools in the Yakima Valley. Students at CBC, YVCC and Heritage University can also take part. All looking to educate students in the medical field - helping create and jobs and keep the workforce local.

"I have two little sisters who will be freshmen next year and they're going to be in the program, I feel so proud, my sisters look up to me when it comes to that," said Lilinoe.

Students interested in applying can fill out an application with their school counselors at any time. Part of the money will be going to create a website for those interested.