Health Day spurs early entry

Tour exposes high school academy students to career options

By Cody Casares, Photo Editor

Students from three different West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) high schools will visit the college for knowledge and guidance for Health Services Day on Friday.

It will start at Contra Costa College in LA-100 and branch out to various areas on campus, Grant Coordinator Nancy Rynd said.

“Health Services Day is an opportunity that the college offers to 150 WCCUSD high school Health Academy students from Pinole Valley High School, De Anza High School and Richmond High School,” Rynd said.

The academies provide high school students with advanced opportunities. “Each Health Academy gets to send 50 students to the college to spend the day here,” she said.

These students will spend 25 minutes in presentations about different careers and courses of study. These include  nursing, health and human services, biotechnology, medical assisting, emergency medical technician (EMT), and certified nursing assistant (CNA) programs, she said.

As well as the educational presentations that will be offered, the culminating lecture will inform students about concurrent enrollment opportunities offered to high school seniors, Rynd said. Concurrent enrollment is the opportunity to attend college classes while still in high school.

“We start to prepare them so that maybe in grades 10 and 12 they actually start their college career,” she said.

Nursing department Chairperson Cheri Etheredge has coordinated Health Services Day six times before, forwarding the opportunity to ninth and 10th graders to attend the college for a day and have the opportunity to see what kind of classes the college offers.

They can also see what kind of jobs they might get in the health care field. For many it’s their first time on a college campus, Rynd said.

“High school students have a special something about them. They’re optimistic and energized, really fun to be around,” Etheredge said.

Health Services Day aims to attract these students to enroll at CCC when they choose a college, she said.

“We take them into the simulation lab and give them all stethoscopes and have them interact with the mannequin. Our $83,000 mannequin can be controlled through the computer, and the students are all pretty excited to participate,” Etheredge said.

Students will also have a chance to look through high-powered microscopes that will be hooked up to projectors and laptops, biological sciences adjunct professor Gregory Ponomareff said. Students will be able to view C. Elgans, a genetically engineered worm given a florescent protein to give it a green glow when under UV light, as well as amoebas and euglena, Ponomareff said.

“Our goal is to educate them and give them a little motivation and dedication,” he said. “We want to get everything we can in the 20 minutes we have.”

The CNA program has a unique aspect to it that garnishes the setting, and emphasizes talking to current high school students.

“In working with some grants three years ago we started a program with the CNA program where we arrange for 15 high school kids to come to the college in the afternoon during their senior year and take the courses for the CNA program,” Rynd said.

This allows the students to graduate high school with their diplomas, their CNA certificate, their home health aide certificate and their state certification if they pass the state test.

The CNA presenters will consist of four students who completed the CNA program while in high school last December, Rynd said.

The CNA program takes one semester to complete. The students attend high school classes in the morning and then come to the college in the afternoon to complete the CNA courses.