Promote health in 100 teens in Portland, Oregon

by MIKE Program
Aug 8, 2013

Summer Sizzles with Support

Tigest Mequanint interns at MIKE Program
Tigest Mequanint interns at MIKE Program

MIKE Program's summer is sizzling with support from individuals and Juan Young Trust:

  • Meet Tigest Mequanint who is interning with MIKE Program before she heads off to the University of Oregon to begin her studies in medicine
  • Juan Young Trust awards MIKE Program a grant to support efforts in steering teens towards healthier foods
  • Sofia Murfitt, a MIKE Program mentor last school year, joins us as an intern this summer

MIKE Program is Great Fit for Pre-Med Student Tigest Mequanint

Tigest Mequanint is ready to begin the next step toward her dream of becoming a doctor. She is already gaining an impressive resume of skills and experiences, one of which is interning at MIKE Program through Worksystems’ SummerWorks program. Since she was a young student in Ethiopia, healthcare has been a focus for Tigest.

“I was very happy when Worksystems told me that I would be placed at MIKE Program,” said Tigest, who wanted something connect to the medical field for her first job. “It’s my first paying job and it’s a good one!”

Before she begins her undergraduate studies in biology this fall in Eugene, Tigest is helping MIKE Program with a variety of tasks—from data entry to organizing youth surveys to gain awareness of nonprofit efforts in healthcare and education. She is one of 530 young people who were placed in summer jobs through Worksystems’ SummerWorks program. The program is geared to help young people, 97 percent of whom are low-income and 63 percent of color, prepare for post-secondary education and career-ladder employment. The nonprofit organization, based in Portland, serves youth and adults throughout the city and in Multnomah and Washington Counties.

Her assignment with MIKE Program helps Tigest gain greater insight into the many possibilities in healthcare. She said she’s considering all sectors of the industry. “You can study many fields, here,” she said, who is currently interested in cancer research. “When I hear about cancer, ooh,” she sighs. “I wish there was something I could do to make it better.”

Tigest’s interest in medicine began at a young age, when her mother was a nursing assistant. She says no one in her family had a particular interest in medicine, but for Tigest it was the only career field she thought about. Her goals are to open a medical practice of her own, one day. (Catch our blog on our website link below for more on Tigest.)

Making a Healthy Choice

MIKE Program teens will receive an extra serving of support in making healthier food choices with recent funding from Juan Young Trust. The 2013-2014 grant award will help MIKE Program steer teens toward nutritious snacks and water as they learn about healthier lifestyles.

MIKE Program connects near-age mentors with teens in the classroom to prepare young people to be health leaders. The mentors, many of whom are health professions students, make a point of choosing healthy food options by bringing healthy snacks to the start of class each week. The teens get a chance to adapt to new foods or new combinations of nutritious options. The weekly activity helps the mentors build positive relationships with the teens while reinforcing healthier behaviors.

MIKE Program provides a comprehensive health curriculum with hands-on activities, which includes a practical health planner, shopping guide and field trips. The program culminates in a health leadership project which teams the teens in projects which they create to extend their healthy message to others. In previous years, the teens have taken their healthy messages to elementary schools, nonprofit organizations and created videos to get the word out.

The Juan Young Trust grant goes to support MIKE Program’s curriculum and supplemental materials and strengthen the efforts of the mentors with the teens in the classroom. Juan Young Trust, an Oregon charitable foundation, awards grants to nonprofit organizations in the state which promote health, education and welfare of children under 21 years old. 

Mentor Sofia Murfitt Returns to MIKE Program

Sofia Murfitt leads a busy life. In her final year at Portland State University in the Child and Family Studies program, Sofia sought to add to her academic load with an internship at MIKE Program this summer.

Her connection to MIKE Program began last January when she successfully applied to become a mentor at one of the program sites in North Portland. Now she's looking to build awareness and healthier lives with a new team of mentors as the organization gears up for the new academic year.

Sofia has always been interested in working with youth. She completed a practicum as a teaching assistant and tutored ESL youth during her high school days at Roosevelt High School. Since then, she's focused on how she can benefit youth, especially with their health. She hopes to work in a school-based healthcare environment in the future.

Until then, Sofia will provide support for MIKE Program's Kristin Dreves to train new mentors entering the program. Sofia also plans to return mentoring with MIKE Program in the coming year.

Juan Young Trust helps serve up healthy choices
Juan Young Trust helps serve up healthy choices
Sofia Murfitt mentors youth
Sofia Murfitt mentors youth



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Organization Information

MIKE Program

Location: Portland, OR - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Cheryl Neal
Portland, OR United States
$2,285 raised of $272,133 goal
12 donations
$269,848 to go
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