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SISD students with disabilities land internship to prepare them for the workforce

EL PASO, Texas -- A hands-on education program is making a real difference in the lives of Borderland students.

It's taking them out of the classroom and into the real-world to help them when it's time to join the workforce. It's specifically for students with disabilities.

Project Search, a national program, has been offered to high school students with disabilities within the Socorro Independent School District for three years now.

This year, 10 students are completing a year-long at the Hospitals of Providence East Campus. Each student will complete three rotations within the hospital working in departments like laundry, environmental services and units like surgery and cardiac rehab just to name a few.

Students have an opportunity to gain competitive skills than they can take with them wherever they go, but "the ultimate goal of the program is for them to gain competitive paid employment," said Monica Gasca, the program instructor.

Gasca 87 percent of the students who completed the program last year ended up getting a full time job.

“I think our students really exude a lot of confidence, maturity, and they're just so proud of being in our program," Gasca said. "The response from the hospital has been very welcoming and they've really included and taken them under their wing, all their mentors that they're matched with.”

Not only is hospital staff able to help these students but the hospitals chief operational officer says they get something in return too.

"Especially now that there's a big labor shortage, we definitely want to explore all options, wherever we can have our productive workers that are very disciplined, well behaved. And they make for the best employees here at the hospitals or providence," said Erik Cazares, chief operating officer at the Hospitals of Providence East Campus.

Other community partners include Workforce Solutions Borderplex and the El Paso Community Foundation just to name a few.

Parents who are interested in signing their child up for the program can reach out to their childs school. Gasca said there is an application process that they must go through.

To learn more about Project Search, click here.

Brianna Chavez

Brianna Chavez is an ABC-7 reporter/producer.

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