Posted: April 16, 2014

AHA Students Get Career Advice & Wisdom

Health and social science professionals spend a day at the high school where they share insight into their careers and future job opportunities.

Approximately 400 students at Atrisco Heritage Academy got a glimpse of what their future might hold when they attended the second annual Health and Social Sciences Career Day hosted by the Health and Social Sciences Academy in partnership with UNM Hospital. Sophomores, juniors, and seniors were treated to a jam-packed day of advice, high-energy and wisdom the day before spring break.

This event is part of the curriculum for students in the high school’s Health and Social Sciences Academy. AHA is made up of five small learning academies that are individually organized around a career theme. After students select an academy, they take courses that integrate academic and vocational instruction into the curriculum.

“Our students are committed to pursuing a career in these areas for a myriad of reasons,” said teacher Diane Russell. “They sit in the classroom, sharing their dreams with you and hope you will confirm that they are pursuing a worthy goal.”

This event was their chance to find out how they could apply their education in the real world. Students moved through several different stations to learn what careers the Albuquerque community has to offer in the field of health and social sciences.

The day’s activities included a panel of speakers in the health and medical field, booths from community social services, and a Zumba class put on by AHA students who work at Muevelo Fitness Club.

Pulsating music floated out of the temporary outdoor gym on the east side of campus as students bounced, shimmied and high stepped, trying to follow the lead of tenth grader Jesslyn Dominquez. Her family owns the club and Dominquez said when it came time for her to choose an academy, the Health & Social Sciences was her first choice. Dominquez was excited to come and lead her peers in the class.

Other activities included:

  • A panel discussion by physicians, nurses, interns and MADD representatives
  • A presentation by respiratory therapist Letticia DeCory on her work with the CDC during the Ebola scares
  • A U.S. Army obstacle course
  • Career opportunity overviews by the Albuquerque fire and police departments.

AHA junior John Weisgerber was moved by DeCory’s story of a physically abused six-month old baby who couldn’t be saved. “The hardest thing about working in the medical field is knowing that you can’t always bring them back to life,” he said. “You see things that make you respect life that much more.”

In addition to attending the event, many Atrisco seniors have already been interning within their career field of choice.  Senior Vivian Melero hopes to one day be a forensic pathologist and was able to intern at Lovelace Women’s Hospital this year, helping to transport patients, observe in delivery rooms and shadow nurses in the emergency room.

“I used to be shy, but not anymore. I can talk to people a lot easier,” she said.

When asked if she thinks having to pick a field of study at such a young age made high school more difficult, she quickly responded “No way! I think it made high school easier because it gave me direction.”

The concentrated education these students are receiving in the Health and Social Sciences Academy already has them looking well past high school and into their college years.

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