GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- The stress of the pandemic led many health-care professionals to exit the field, but COVID-19 also kept many young people from entering.
Now one local hospital's inclusive internship program aimed at helping aspiring students achieve their dreams is back in business.
We caught up with Glendale Community College student Celeste Meza after she witnessed a live birth.
"Being able to see these nurses do what they do, and potentially seeing that this is what my future can be like," she said.
She's one of dozens of high school and college students participating in the Healthcare Internship program at Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital. This is the program's third year, after a hiatus during the pandemic.
"These are individuals who oftentimes are facing challenging situations from a background perspective and their families come from underrepresented backgrounds. And we're offering them a hand up," said Dr. Douglas Webber, director of palliative care at Glendale Memorial Hospital.
"Approximately 5% of doctors are Black. We just need a lot more diversity in this field," said intern program graduate Hillary Mentaze.
"My family, the highest education they had was middle school," said Meza.
The three-month adventure takes college and high school students into the emergency department, the operating room and wherever their interests may lead them.
"They're able to shadow, they're able to observe, they're able to witness what is really going on in these various departments," said Webber.
"I don't know many people who really like the idea of being around blood in surgery, but it was life-changing," said Mentaze.
As an intern, Cal State Northridge graduate Mentaze said her mentor inspired her to apply to various medical schools. Someday, she hopes to be a doctor at this very hospital.
"It's just a family now," she said.
But interns aren't the only ones who get something out of this experience, Webber said being able to shape and mentor a new generation of healthcare workers is what makes this program worthwhile.
"It's part of a legacy to leave behind. So that when I'm long gone and passed. there'll be somebody still carrying the torch making a difference in the life of people," he said.