Medical students Natasha Ramsey and Jeneba Abass-Shereef are graduates of the Bridge to Employment (BTE) program in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The BTE experience in high school prepared them to meet the challenges and requirements of higher education and instilled in them the desire to make a difference.
“I would not be where I am today, definitely not in medical school, without the BTE program,” says Natasha. The program helped spark an interest in science and health care that she never thought she had. Natasha went on to obtain a degree in public health and plans to focus on preventive medicine and health education in underserved communities upon graduation from New York University Medical School. She adds, “I had the support of my Johnson & Johnson mentor through my whole journey.”
Jeneba always knew she wanted to be a doctor. The mentoring and after-school tutoring BTE provided strengthened her academics and kept her focused on her goals. The program also paired Jeneba and Natasha with elementary school children, giving the high school students an opportunity to be mentors themselves. That experience made a lasting impact. Jeneba is pursuing a distinction in community service along with her medical degree at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and continues to mentor young people in her community.
Launched in 1992, BTE is a Johnson & Johnson initiative that aims to inspire young people (14–18 year olds) from Johnson & Johnson communities to stay in school, excel academically and elevate their career aspirations. The program also helps them build their futures by introducing them to a broad array of careers in health care.
Johnson & Johnson employees are actively involved in every aspect of the program, from designing the program to selecting community partners. For that reason, BTE is initiated only in communities where Johnson & Johnson has a presence. Each program engages four key partners: a local Johnson & Johnson operating company, a secondary school or schools, institution of higher education and a community-based organization.
Over the last 20 years, more than 60 BTE sites have been established in communities throughout the United States, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. Today, four new programs start each year, with more than 16 programs operating at any given time.