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Empowering students to pursue a career in health

Since 2021, The Wellmark Foundation has supported Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) by providing a financial contribution to assist with annual, statewide leadership and development conferences. The conferences give iJAG students from school districts across the state a chance to connect with business and higher education leaders, demonstrate their leadership skills, and compete in core competency areas.

The Wellmark Foundation is proud to support initiatives — like iJAG — that positively impact the conditions in places where people are born, live, learn, work and play. These conditions affect a wide range of health and quality-of-life-risks that don’t have to be a barrier to promising youth. Supporting iJAG is one of the many ways The Foundation is working to remove barriers in local communities.

iJAG Career Development Conference

During the 2022 Spring Career Development Conference, The Wellmark Foundation worked with health care systems and iJAG staff to create a hands-on experience and expose students to high-demand health care occupations. Representatives from The Wellmark Foundation, health care systems and health science specialty schools provided iJAG students with demonstrations and opportunities to learn more about various careers in health care. iJAG students were able to make valuable connections with local health care professionals and were able to secure job shadow opportunities and internships during the conference.

These experiences and connections led three 2022 iJAG graduates from Ottumwa, Iowa, to enroll in local college courses, a step they admit they otherwise may not have taken if it weren’t for their time in iJAG. Diana Dominguez, Melody Burns and Madison Duncan are now attending Indian Hills Community College and are looking ahead to the future.

The Wellmark Foundation + iJAG

Removing barriers and finding hope

“Because of our collaboration during the conference, students were exposed to health care careers that they may not have otherwise thought were in reach for their future," said Mary Lawyer, The Wellmark Foundation executive director. “This will pay dividends not only for each student’s health and quality of life, but also for their ability to give back to the next generation. By sponsoring a program that creates meaningful connections between students and professionals these young people will graduate from high school and move into a productive and rewarding career.”

“When an organization like The Wellmark Foundation makes a big statement in a small way, like sponsoring our conference, it means a lot. Anytime an organization can see themselves in the work we do and know that they can have impact and that they can make dreams happen, there’s nothing better or bigger than that.”— Laurie Phelan, iJAG President and CEO.