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Celina Sanchez is First UA Project SEARCH Intern to Receive Banner’s “BE” Award, and Offered Employment with the Hospital

TUCSON, Ariz. – Celina Sanchez, a Project SEARCH intern working at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson has clearly made a positive impact on those with whom she works and all those around her. So much so, that she was the first Project SEARCH intern to receive Banner’s “Be Bold, Be Kind, Be Awesome Award,” which is awarded for exceptional performance.

Celia Sanchez
Celina Sanchez, on the day she was awarded the “Be Bold, Be Kind, Be Awesome” award, and at work on the cardiothoracic unit at B

And Celina is clearly exceptional. She exudes a genuine interest, warmth and enthusiasm for her work and for those around her.

“Everybody loves Celina,” said Lisa Purvis, RN, who supervised and mentored Celina’s rotation on the cardio-thoracic unit at Banner – UMC Tucson. “Our patients and their families regularly tell me that Celina is friendly, hard working and helpful.”

Project SEARCH is a program within the UA Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities, which is housed within the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Originally developed at Cincinatti Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Project SEARCH is now an international program using best practices to prepare high school youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities for competitive, integrated employment and full community inclusion. The program started at UMC in 2009.

“Banner is the perfect host business for our program—Project SEARCH at Banner University Medical Center—because of its welcoming environment and willingness to hire interns,” said Laura Schweers, the statewide coordinator for Project SEARCH in Arizona. “In addition to providing valuable training opportunities, Banner currently employs twenty-four program graduates across both UMC Tucson and South campuses.”

Celina Sanchez, with her Banner – UMC Tucson mentor-supervisor, Lisa Purvis, RN.

While working on the cardio-thoracic unit on a nursing rotation, Celina organized and stocked blood trays, stocked the tray-carts, delivered newspapers to patients, helped keep the unit clean, and more.

“I really like this program,” said Celina. “It helps me learn more skills, and the people I work with are great—especially nurse Lisa!—and the patients are awesome and really nice to me.”

Celina has completed additional rotations with the Culinary and Nutrition Services department at Banner – UMC, and was mentored by Blake Ingledue, the senior culinary manager. On that rotation, she worked on the patient tray line service, with stocking and putting together trays. Celina took inventory of products on the tray line and helped put together trays throughout the lunch hour and continued to stock items as needed. 

“It wasn’t what Celina physically did that made her so valuable, it was the positive energy that she exuded, and everyone around her could feel it,” said Blake. “It really helped the team see things from a different prospective and realize what was truly important: providing the best possible service to our patients and treating others with dignity, respect, kindness, and compassion. Celina is a natural reflection of Banner’s mission and values.”

Celina Sanchez, with her Banner – UMC Tucson mentor-supervisor, Blake Ingledue.

There are additional agencies that enable Project SEARCH at Banner UMC to thrive. Partners include SAGE Employment Services, Easter Seals Blake Foundation (SAGE/ESBF), Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED) and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). SAGE/ESBF and JTED provide the staff, staff programs, and VR funds interns in the Banner UMC Tucson program (for young adults) and works with interns at Banner South in the high school transition program.  

“All of these agencies working together make it possible for us to help high school students in transition, and young adults with disabilities learn the skills needed to find meaningful employment that aligns with their goals,” said Laura.

On June 6, Celina will complete the Project SEARCH internship, and Banner UMC is planning to offer her a position.  

“I would really like to work in the kitchen at Banner UMC,” said Celina.