Founded in 2007, UC Irvine’s Center for Future Health Professionals has exposed more than 1,000 Orange County high school students to careers in healthcare through a program of outreach, mentoring and education.

“Our goal is to become the primary local support network for young people in underserved communities who wish to pursue careers as healthcare professionals,” says Dr. Behnoosh Afghani, clinical professor of pediatrics at UCI and center director. “We want to increase the numbers of underrepresented minority group members in healthcare.”

On Friday, June 18, UCI will recognize the center’s progress and honor those involved at a free 5:30 p.m. event in the Student Center (bldg. 113, grid E8 on campus map). For more information or reservations, call 714-456-7509 or e-mail

Ten students from Anaheim High School and Valley High School in Santa Ana will present findings about their communities’ health challenges, such as youth smoking, obesity, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and heart disease.

Orange County’s healthcare sector is expected to grow nearly 25 percent by 2016, Afghani says, making it imperative that students understand and have access to opportunities in the field.

“It’s not just about becoming a doctor or nurse,” she says. “There are dozens of healthcare careers available that these students may not know exist.”

The Center for Future Health Professionals is active in high school career fairs, conducts classroom workshops, and arranges job shadowing and mentorships.

It has matched more than 30 local teens with mentors – UCI graduates and undergraduates in health studies, doctors, nurses, X-ray technicians, pharmacists, geriatricians, social workers, and occupational, physical and respiratory therapists.

The mentorships are designed to give students the support and information they need to successfully navigate the entrance requirements and demands of college-level and postgraduate healthcare career training programs.

Not one participant in a mentorship has dropped out of school. For more information on the center, see

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion. For more UCI news, visit

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