Working at AHS means we’re part of a caring profession. As Mother’s Day approaches, we’re thinking of the first caregivers in many of our lives: our moms (and grandmothers, aunts and other loving women).

Joilah James, internship coordinator for AHS HealthPATH, was inspired by her supportive and hardworking mother to step up and push herself to achieve her goals. Now Joilah gets to pay it forward, encouraging young people in the community to reach for their dreams and make the most of their opportunity to work in health care through HealthPATH.

“A lot of people don’t have health insurance, and I see on a daily basis how that impacts their health — not only their physical health, but their mental health, their emotional health. So I’m grateful to work AHS. They value their employees and cover so many benefits. Many people from the communities we serve work at AHS, so they have access to health care. AHS is practicing what they’re preaching by healing, teaching, serving all.

My mom was a single parent of five children, and I saw her struggle to put food on the table. I missed a lot of school as a child, because I’d have to stay at home to babysit my little brother. That was a big struggle for me growing up, having a lot of responsibility to help take care of the household.

But she was really supportive, and anytime I said I wanted to pursue something, she made sure she learned enough about it to put me in touch with people who could teach me more. She would always step up and speak up for herself or her kids. Seeing her work so hard made me feel like I don’t have an excuse. I have to push myself constantly.

I started at HealthPATH in 2015 as a volunteer, five days a week in addition to working in a restaurant. Jessica Pitt saw how hard I worked and offered me a job. I got to see HealthPATH blossom into an expansive program that’s offering internships and opportunities to eighth graders all the way up to students who are doing fellowships post-medical school, to ensure that youth and young adults gain exposure to health careers.

I tell these young people that the path to their career goal is not a straight line. Through this program, they see AHS staff who’ve taken all different types of avenues to get to where they are, and that encourages them.

I see myself in so many of the students. I get to see them grow from shy, uncomfortable and apprehensive to these young people who are more willing to step outside of the box. It’s amazing to see the growth. I get to shower them with encouragement and push them until they feel confident.”