Reaching ‘Beyond the Rush Borders’

By Terry Peterson

In 2010, the chairperson of the Chicago Public Schools asked Rush to consider adopting a little-known school named Simpson Academy for Young Women — the only Chicago public school for pregnant and parenting teens. The school, located approximately three blocks south of Rush’s campus, had a history of insufficient access to prenatal care and maintained dismal graduation rates.

Most of the young women attending Simpson Academy are from low-income families on the south and west sides of Chicago. Rush made a commitment to help make a difference by improving access to prenatal and pediatric health care services and health care education in order to help the girls successfully reach graduation.

Together, Rush leadership, the College of Nursing and the Department of Multicultural Affairs and Community Service established the foundation for building a sustainable partnership with Simpson Academy that will improve the quality of life for these young ladies. The result of the partnership between Rush and the Chicago Public Schools has resulted in a full-service health clinic and day care center at Simpson Academy. We also established a homework center and a job shadowing program to provide students with the help they need to focus on academic achievement and discover careers in health sciences.

It was a proud moment earlier this year when Rush hosted Simpson Academy’s graduation ceremony for the class of 2012, in which 21 of 25 seniors graduated and 18 were accepted into college programs. Rush is not stopping there. A meeting has been scheduled with Rush and Malcolm X College leaders to discuss establishing a program to support Simpson Academy graduates enrolled at Malcolm X College and continue to encourage their pursuit of careers in the health sciences field.

It is inspiring to work with great colleagues who have the spirit and commitment to reach beyond the Rush borders to make a difference in the lives of others.

Terry Peterson is vice president, Corporate and External Affairs, at Rush University Medical Center.

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