Final cohort of pipeline scholars finds career paths through internships

A very tangible outcome of Grand Valley's nearly five-year partnership with Battle Creek Public Schools and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is the 46 students who have received full scholarships over the past four years.

The Battle Creek Public Schools Pipeline Scholarship recipients are graduates of Battle Creek Central High School and have typically expressed interest in majoring in nursing, health professions, education or STEM. A peer mentoring program among scholarship recipients has helped foster their community.

The 2023 cohort of 18 first-year students is the last to receive this scholarship. Students from the BCPS district can now earn scholarships through the Bearcat Advantage program.

Three students shared their experiences of transitioning to campus and completing six-week internships arranged through the Battle Creek Regional Outreach Center.

Lalro Mawii stands in a light coat outside against a rock wall
Lalro Mawii is a nursing major who noticed the compassion of nurses she shadowed during an internship at Grace Health.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Lalro Mawii: 'That's how I want to approach nursing'

Nursing student Lalro Mawii said she gained more than health care skills during her internship at Grace Health, a multiservice primary care practice in Battle Creek.

Mawii completed a six-week clinical student internship, shadowing nurses and medical assistants. The sophomore said it was her first time working in a medical setting.

"I gained the skills and confidence to know that I want to pursue nursing," Mawii said.

Beyond treating and caring for their patients, Mawii noted the collective compassion of Grace Health nurses.

"I saw a mom and her son come in, and they didn't speak any English," she said. "The nurse took her time with them, using online translators. I saw nurses there tell their patients how to reach out to different resources.

"That's how I want to approach nursing."

Mawii, who is also a Cook Leadership Academy fellow, is the first in her family to attend college. Her parents came to the U.S. from Burma. As a first-generation student, Mawii said the BCPS Pipeline Scholarship program provided her with both a community when she first arrived on campus and the motivation to succeed in college.

"Before I learned about this program, I didn't have a clue about where I was going to go or how to pay for it. Having this scholarship has opened the doors for us and provided us with hope," she said.

Jonah Hurtado-Macias sits before a laptop with a water bottle on the table
Jonah Hurtado-Macias is a double major in marketing and international business. After graduation, Hurtado-Macias said he would like to work for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Jonah Hurtado-Macias: 'I want to show them their investment was worth it'

Jonah Hurtado-Macias was among the first cohort of students to receive the Pipeline Scholarship. He arrived on campus in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Hurtado-Macias called that period on campus "interesting," but said navigating health and safety changes and adjusting to college was made easier because he lived with three other scholarship recipients.

"It was not too scary because we were together," he said.

Hurtado-Macias is a double major in marketing and international business; he will graduate in April. His internship with the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce helped advance his knowledge of digital marketing, he said.

His interest in business started in high school during a career day, Hurtado-Macias said. All students who selected business were sent to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, which is within walking distance of Battle Creek Central High School.

"When I was there, I met Arelis Diaz and she became my mentor," Hurtado-Macias said. "We have continued to meet monthly since then. She took me to the accounting and finance offices to learn what each of these offices does."

As a former high school soccer player, Hurtado-Macias said he received partial scholarship offers from several colleges. "I would have had student loans if I went that route," he said.

His parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico. Hurtado-Macias said they have always trusted his decisions about selecting a college and choosing a major.

"They tell me, 'You know best, we will support your path,'" he said.

He hopes that path will lead to a job at the Kellogg Foundation. 

"I really want to work at the foundation. I want to show them their investment was worth it," he said.

Alaysha Cannon stands in Padnos Hall leaning against stair railing overlooking balcony
Alaysha Cannon, a biomedical sciences major, had an internship at Grace Health Dental. Cannon said she would like to work in Battle Creek after graduating from dental school.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

Alaysha Cannon: 'We pulled teeth today!'

Alaysha Cannon recalled the day she left her internship and excitedly told her mother what happened.

"I went home and told my mom, 'We pulled teeth today!'" said Cannon, a junior who is majoring in biomedical sciences.

Cannon plans to become a dentist. Following her internship at Grace Health Dental, she switched her career focus to provide dentistry services for underserved and incarcerated populations. The practice is one of few in the Battle Creek area that accepts Medicaid insurance and provides portable dentistry services to area schools.

Cannon said she started the internship by learning the names of the equipment. She moved on to scheduling appointments and taking blood pressure readings to assisting with fillings and other dental procedures.

"There's nothing like hands-on experience," she said. "I have had lots of shadowing experience but being able to do this work consistently was so exciting for me."

She also said this internship will bolster her graduate school applications.

Cannon is a Cook Leadership Academy fellow. Her mentor through that program is a dentist.

"At first I was not super interested in going back to Battle Creek after graduating. Now that I see the work Grace Health does, I am interested in working there," she said.


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