Starting in February, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Inclusion in Health Care will be hosting a series of career fairs for sixth-graders in the Pittsburgh Public School District. The fairs will expose students to a variety of careers in the health care field, beyond the usual professions.

Winifred Torbert and Dawnita Wilson

“It gives the students the opportunity to explore the many different areas they can go into health care,” said Winifred Torbert, program director, education partnerships. “You don’t have to be a doctor or a nurse and students aren’t aware of that. So it’s an exploration activity.”

“We want to really talk to the students about health careers and post-secondary opportunities they can pursue if they are interested,” Torbert said. “In sixth grade they are beginning to question where they are going to be and things they need to know. This will show them this is what it will lead to and also to give them a pathway to the promise.”

The first of four sessions will be held at Greenway Middle School, Feb. 9, 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

The Center for Inclusion, which was launched in October of 2008, has a number of initiatives aimed at customers, employees and the community.

“We launched the center in an effort to kind of re-brand the department and move the work to another level,” said Dawnita Wilson, chief of staff. “We wanted to provide a broad range of resources to UPMC employees as well as the people in the communities we serve.”

Among the center’s major initiatives is the Dignity and Respect campaign, which invites UPMC employees and the community to take a pledge to ensure that inclusion is at the core of what they do every day. After taking the pledge, participants can download a list of daily tips encouraging them to be mindful of their interactions with others and to commit to treating others the way they want to be treated.

“We engaged community partners and the community at-large to take the pledge,” Wilson said. “We ask them what dignity and respect mean to them.”

The campaign has engaged numerous organizations, including the Pittsburgh Foundation, Leadership Pittsburgh, UPMC Health Plan and the Office of the Mayor. October 2009 was designated as Dignity and Respect Month, during which time almost 5,000 pledges were received.

(To be a part of the campaign, visit

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