Throughout his more than 26 years working for the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC), Kevin Scanlan oversaw the company’s workforce development on behalf of its members – more than 170 hospitals and healthcare providers. Among these groups was Instituto del Progreso Latino with its Carreras en Salud Career Pathway Program, and it was during this time that Kevin developed a friendship with both Instituto and Juan Salgado, former President and CEO.
One thing that became clear to Kevin during this time was that employers weren’t satisfied with the training that City Colleges was providing to healthcare students. As he began to think about ways that MCHC could help improve and grow the healthcare workforce he reached out to some educators in the field. Speaking with these professors reinforced the sentiment of the employers, Kevin heard agreement and got more insight into the problem. He recalls one of the professors saying, “I understand where you’re coming from. I agree to a certain extent, but what you have to realize is the quality of product we get from the high schools.”
Kevin also began having conversations with community leaders that he had built relationships with thought MCHCs workforce development programs. After talking with Juan about the needs of the healthcare industry and concerns of the educators he had spoken with, the idea for creating Instituto Health and Sciences Career Academy (IHSCA) was born. In 2008, IHSCA opened its doors to the first to 150 students and their families. Kevin recalls, “I remember being there and seeing these 150 young, eager students – many of them with their families – and I had the opportunity to give the opening remarks to them. I represented a group of employers who were very excited and very anxious about the opening because they were looking forward to 4 to 6 to 8 years down the road when they would be able to employ them, and they were wishing them well, waiting for them with open arms.”
Ever since, Kevin has been a constant supporter of IHSCA. Attending every graduation and still makes frequent visits to the school to speak with students. Now that he’s retired, Kevin doesn’t visit IHSCA as much as he’d like, but still makes the effort to come whenever he can, “I see students who many times come from families where perhaps education isn’t as highly held as in other places. I first and foremost applaud the families of the students for making the commitment to wanting to have their children come here.”
Education is very important to Kevin, and hearing the stories of all those who value education and want to better themselves reminds him of why he’s such an avid supporter. “My dad never had greater than a six grade education. When he was sixteen years old, his mother told him there was no more room at the table, and he had to leave the farm and come to Clare, Ireland and decide where he was going to go. He went down to Cork and got on a ship and came to America. My mom is second generation. She went through high school. I’m the first generation that went to college. I’m the first in my family to get a graduate degree. Education is very important to me,” he says and adds, “Not that it was a competition, but my daughter for her doctorate.”Kevin describes his family as passing down education through generations and building upon them; he hopes IHSCA graduates and their families can do the same. He is confident in what Instituto has to offer and encourages others to support Instituto because, “It’s the future.”