HHS partnership connects UNCP students with careers in public service

MOU signing
Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings, left, and Mose Harris, sign an MOU with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's (ONC) Pathways to Public Service (PTPS) program

A new partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) will provide UNC Pembroke students the skills needed to pursue careers in public service.

The collaboration will open the door for paid internships and entry-level positions with federal agencies. Jimarr Williams, director of UNCP’s Career Center, said joining the ONC’s Pathways to Public Service (PTPS) program will yield transformative student opportunities.

“We believe these opportunities for paid internships will remove the barriers for many of our students while addressing the equity gaps,” Williams said. “This is truly an exciting day for UNCP!”

In partnership with other HHS agencies, the PTPS program was initiated in 2019 to equip students attending minority-serving institutions (MSIs) with the knowledge and skills needed to be viable candidates and to develop a pipeline of diverse, qualified students to become the next generation of public servants.

Mose Harris, PTPS program manager, joined Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings and other university leaders at an MOU signing ceremony on campus last week.

“One of the program’s target goals is to increase the number of students attending MSIs in the federal applicant pool,” Harris said. “We are building lasting and sustainable partnerships with MSIs nationwide to achieve that. Today, we are proud to have UNCP as a lasting partner.

“This MOU will fully ensure that UNCP students are properly prepared to further HHS’ mission to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans by providing effective health and human services and fostering advances in medicine, public health and social services,” Harris continued.

The partnership will educate students on the mission of HHS and the federal hiring process through virtual fairs and professional development workshops. At the same time, they explore federal careers and complete their education.

The PTPS will provide UNCP students with opportunities to engage with prestigious organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources (ASFR) and the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR).

While UNCP has long been recognized for its deep commitment to service-learning, the new partnership will expand the internship opportunities.

Cummings said paid internships and experiential learning give students an edge during job interviews and aid overall retention and recruitment.

“This wonderful partnership allows them to find a career that suits them, and what better a career than one in public service,” Cummings said. “This is important to our students because if they are successful, then we are successful.”