Bridge To Employment

It has been more than a year since Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc., through its corporate social responsibility arm, launched “Bridge to Employment” (BTE), a program that aims to provide support to less privileged high school students in pursuing college education, and encourage them to pursue health care courses and careers. Piloted in one of the most populated high schools in Metro Manila, Parañaque National High School (PNHS), BTE serves as a glimmer of hope to many underprivileged students who are at risk of not being able continue their studies after high school.

Twenty fortunate students from PNHS were chosen to comprise the first group of BTE students. These students underwent a series of comprehensive activities that cultivated their interest to pursue tertiary education in the health field. Health care professionals from Johnson & Johnson and the City Health Office of Parañaque served as mentors to these students through activities such as health career orientations, one-on-one sessions, job shadowing and immersions.

Not only did the students learn what it’s like to be a health care professional, but they were also inspired and motivated by their mentors to follow their dreams. Out of the 20 students, three were granted full scholarships at the University of the Philippines Manila -- School of Health Sciences in Palo, Leyte for a two-year midwifery course.

Inspired by the success of the pilot year, a second run of BTE is now under way. BTE Year 2 recently kicked off with a welcome ceremony for the new group of students.

“We are very proud of what the Bridge to Employment program has achieved so far. Aside from being the first site in Asia, the Philippines is being commended as one of the most successful sites globally,” said Mary Grace N. Gervacio, Human Resources and Contributions Director of Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc.

“Personally, I am delighted that BTE has gone far in making a life-changing and long-term difference in the lives of underprivileged students in our community. With the passion and devotion of each stakeholder, BTE continues to bridge the dreams of many hopeful students,” she added.

Johnson & Johnson Bridge to Employment partnerships are located in communities in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. Each partnership includes a local Johnson & Johnson operating company, a high school or institution of higher education, and a community organization. By motivating students to stay in school and encouraging them to achieve their full academic potential, BTE aims to inspire students to elevate their career aspirations, along with building their confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline and interpersonal skills.

Hundreds of students applied for the program in the Philippines; after a thorough selection process, 44 third-year and fourth-year high school students from PNHS were chosen for enrollment in the program. The students were excited to begin their journey in BTE.

“Isa po sa dahilan kung bakit ako sumali sa BTE dahil nakita ko po ang napakalaking oportunidad na kumakatok sa puso ng bawat mag-aaral na naghahangad na makatulong sa magulang at makatapos ng pag-aaral. Ang BTE ay magsisilbing hagdan upang maabot ko ang aking inaasam na tagumpay” (“I applied for BTE because I saw the big opportunity knocking in the heart of every student who dreams to help their parents and finish their studies. BTE will serve as a stepping stone toward achieving my success in life),” said Elmer Soriano, one of the new BTE students, during the welcome ceremony.

The stakeholders believe that BTE serves as an instrument in helping not only the students, but their families as well. “We are encouraging the families of these students, especially the parents, to support their children throughout the course of the program,” said Carlito Adducul, Vice Principal of PNHS.

“BTE is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that the children should not take for granted,” said Dr. Dionisio Sabio, Assistant City Health Officer of Parañaque. “Students should make the most out of this precious chance to have a brighter future ahead of them.”

Bridge to Employment1

Elnora Bailen-Avarientos, Executive Director of World Vision Development Foundation, also believes in the potential of BTE as a tool for nation-building. “A program like BTE gives hope for our country. It challenges everyone to believe that poverty should not be a hindrance in reaching one’s dreams,” she said.

Bridge to Employment has just begun its mission to bring about significant change in the lives of these students. With high hopes and passionate hearts, everyone is looking forward to another fruitful run of BTE

The below photo shows the 44 students from Parañaque National High School who were chosen to comprise the second group of Bridge to Employment (BTE) students. Joining the students are the BTE stakeholders from Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. (JJPI), World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. (WVDF), Parañaque National High School (PNHS), and the local government of Parañaque City. Seated, left to right, are Asuncion Santos , Nurse V, Parañaque City Health Office; Dr. Dionisio Sabio, Assistant City Health Officer, Parañaque; Mila Jane Gasca, Social Welfare Officer, Parañaque City Social Welfare and Development Office; Luchi G. Maruhom, Executive Assistant, JJPI; Liwanag C. Ricafrente, Program Manager, WVDF; Mary Grace N. Gervacio, Human Resources and Contributions Director, JJPI; Carlito Adducul, Vice Principal, PNHS; Rosita Samson, English Department Head, PNHS; Billie G. Abata, Grant Officer, WVDF; Cecilia Anna O. de Lara, Grant Associate, WVDF; and Leonora Nofuente, Science Department Head, PNHS. Also in the photo are Elmer G. Gascon, Senior Manager, Indirect Procurement, JJPI (standing, first from right); and Ma. Robel V. Luna, Program Coordinator, WVDF (standing, second from right).

Bridge to Employment