Middle school students learn how to launch a health career

By Betsy Friauf

UNTHSC Student teaching middle schools students in lab

 

Call it Career Day on steroids.

Students from Fort Worth public middle schools are spending part of their summer touring workplaces and universities all over the county to see various careers, on the ground in real time.

They’re at the UNT Health Science Center this week. Over five days packed with info and fun led by UNTHSC students, they’re learning what it means – and what it takes – to be a health professional in fields including physical therapy, medicine, pharmacy and forensic science.

During the school year, the youngsters participate in the Fort Worth After School program, which provides academic assistance and other services. For the past few weeks, the middle schoolers have traveled Tarrant County, learning about careers at sites including Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, the Botanic Garden, UNT-Denton, UNTHSC and Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.

“Our students might not be exposed to these careers and universities if not for this,” said Fort Worth After School Program Coordinator Tina Cantu. “For example, some of them had never been on an airplane or even visited an airport before.”

The UNTHSC portion of the program is called Mentors for Life, funded by the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. “With the help of the UNTHSC student organizations, our students have been able to experience innovative learning opportunities this summer,” Cantu said. “It’s very important that we expose the students to various college and career opportunities.”

The UNTHSC students who plan and lead the program also benefit by strengthening their mentoring skills, said Rustin Reeves, PhD, Professor in the Center for Anatomical Sciences.

Cantu said the real-world experiences at UNTHSC, such as seeing actual human organs in the Anatomy Lab, open new worlds for the middle school students. “Some have already asked if they can come back next summer.”

To learn more about UNTHSC’s Mentors for Life, email Dr. Reeves.

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