More businesses partner with Miami University for student work program

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

A unique Miami University school-to-work program, which is a prototype for expansion around the state, gained more momentum Friday with three new area business partners signing on.

The school’s Work Plus program, which allows students to get free tuition in exchange for working internships and other career enhancing jobs for local industries in their field of study, celebrated the new members during an event at Miami’s regional Hamilton campus.

An invited audience, including members of the local community advisory council and school and business leaders, watched as officials with Premier Health - Atrium Medical Center, Kettering Health Hamilton and Butler County General Health District joined 15 other private sector partners who have joined since the program’s launch in 2019.

Dubbed a “win-win-win” program by Miami officials, Work Plus students get valuable career experience and free tuition, local companies get paid, part-time workers already learning about their industry and Miami’s role as a booming pipeline for young workers at area companies is expanded.

“The significance of today is partners are coming today to better support our students. Right now there is a huge affordability crisis in higher education,” said Ande Durojaiye, vice president and dean college of liberal arts and applied science for Miami University Regionals, which also includes the school’s Middletown regional campus.

“Our strategic focus is how to get more students into the (employment) pipeline and not only get them into the pipeline but keep them here (region) so they can be successful,” said Durojaiye.

“And it’s just the beginning of more partnerships in the community … and we want to support our communities across the entire region. We want Butler County to grow.”

Miami’s main Oxford campus, regional campuses and its learning center in West Chester Twp. comprise Butler County’s largest employer.

By fall 2022, 10 students in the program had graduated and there are now 45 Miami regional students in the program, said school officials.

Local participating industries and employers include those in: healthcare, childcare, lab services, bus drivers, office assistants and manufacturing.

As of last fall, the retention rate — those Work Plus students who stayed enrolled at Miami Regionals and continued working for the employers – was 89% and their average GPA ranged from 3.2 to 3.43.

Kim Hensley, chief nursing officer at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, said officials with her employer were eager to join the expanding Work Plus program.

“This is a wonderful partnership we have with Miami University … its partnering with the students within our community. We are looking forward to working with those students as they live and go to school in the community and work as they are working on their degree,” said Hensley.

“For students … this brings down barriers where they can not only go to school but work at the same time and gain the schools that they need while they are doing to school. And we can expand from nursing into other health care fields so this is just the beginning.”

Photojournalist Nick Graham contributed to this story.

About the Author