The Joe Barnhart Scholarship Step Ahead Program focuses on providing career tools for the students of A.C. Jones High School. “But the greatest challenge is motivating the students to actually use the tools,” reports program coordinator Scotty Draper.
“We talk to students throughout the course of the year about different ways to explore careers,” she continued. “Think of those different ways as tools in a career toolbox. Just like a dentist uses tools to probe a patient’s mouth to explore strengths and weaknesses in teeth, a student should use tools that help them explore strengths and weaknesses about careers they are interested in.”
So this summer, the Step Ahead Program not only encouraged rising juniors to shadow a professional in their chosen career, they found the opportunity and matched an interested student with it.
“I would definitely do it again,” declared shadow student Eddie Sifuentes, Jr. “I thought about being a physical therapist, but didn’t know about occupational therapy. I was able to observe and learn about both.” Eddie shadowed Gino Chinarini, clinic coordinator for Christus Spohn Rehab Services here.
Beeville’s professional community was open to the idea of having a student become their shadow for half a day. “Job shadowing is one of the many tools we encourage students to use to explore careers because students are able to observe first hand what goes on in that particular career – no skill required.”
And the best part? “Interacting with all the employees and being able to ask questions,” gushed Adriana DeLaGarza, also a shadow student. “They explained everything that was going on, all the procedures...” Adriana shadowed Dr. Joseph Perry and his assistant, Denise Flores, at Beeville Dental Care.
Adriana used her experience to ask lots of questions while observing procedures such as extractions and denture work. “I saw things I’ve never seen before,” said shadow student Jakelin Castillo, after her experience in the courtroom with attorney Starr Bauer. “It was very interesting.”
HIPA regulations results in the hospital being much more strict with their guidelines, but once all requirements are met, the shadowing students have the option of being absorbed into the Junior Volunteer Program offered by the hospital. “That’s another tool the Step Ahead Program advocates – volunteer service,” said Draper. “And for those students interested in a health science career, there is no better place to volunteer your time than at the local hospital.”
Three students shadowed managers and their units at Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville – pediatrics, ICU and radiology. Health science and law were the two career fields that held the most student interest this year. Students were able to observe procedures ranging from admittance of patients to diagnosis of conditions to treatments. Liability and confidentiality were areas of concern for manufacturing and public safety careers, and therefore prohibited placing student shadows in those areas.
“Feedback has been very positive from both our students and those professionals that were shadowed,” reported Draper. “The plan is to continue to make shadows of willing students each June, get them using those tools. And while they’re doing that, they may just discover their career.”