by Destiny Kieu, PCHS ’18
When I was a freshman, my biology class was right across from the healthcare classroom. I remember peaking in the window to observe what the upperclassmen were doing. They were all dressed in scrubs every Monday and performed skills that they would have to learn and use. I told myself that I would be one of those students one day.
Less than a year later, I took the Compass test and was eligible to earn college credits as young as a sophomore. I continued my education taking academic core and healthcare classes with Central Georgia Technical College. With the exposure of the healthcare industry through these classes, I have confirmed that I want to further my career in this field all thanks to the YES Program.
In 2014, Putnam County was chosen from 24 other schools around the nation to be given a special a grant by the Youth CareerConnect organization. The new funds were used to create a daughter program, Youth Empowerment for Success, or often referred to as the YES Program. The YES Program took care of the money aspect that many students may find troublesome in getting in dual enrollment and going into “high-demand industries.” Here at Putnam, 10th graders take the Accuplacer test to be eligible to enter such programs and choose a pathway that interests them. Whether it be healthcare, welding, or information technology, the YES Program brings the students all the way to their senior year with trips, hands-on experiences, advances in their classes, and certificates that are valuable in the work force.
Every year, the YES Program organizes and offers their students the opportunity to go one on of the several college visits. These trips may be fun, but they are also very helpful to a student to find a college and show the variety of post-secondary education after high school.
The Fall 2016 college tour enabled me to learn more about colleges than I had ever considered before. We even went out of state to check out Auburn University. Aside from that, the YES Program organizes a fun activity for each college tour. On that specific trip, YES students played mini golf, roller skated, and took on laser tag. At the end of the trip, YES students learned way more about colleges, roomed at nice hotels, and made memories that last a long time.
Dual-enrollment classes also make their own trips that will help the student. Whether it be to the Bodies Exhibit (Healthcare) or a Make-End Maker Festival for IT, each trip is geared to help the student attain and apply prior knowledge gained through class experience. These opportunities to travel are one of the things that make the YES program unique and effective for the students of Putnam County High School.
Such trips are also followed by a lot of hands-on experience. Books can teach a lot of theory and instructions, but applying that theory to a class project can be a great experience as well.
This experience is important to eventually lead the student to job shadows and other opportunities. Practicing on mannequins and circuit boards builds confidence in the student’s ability to perform and apply his or her knowledge to the job.
The ability to go into real nursing homes and hospitals to treat and care for patients was one of the advantages I took from the YES Program. Before, I was only able to see these facilities as a patient. But through clinicals, I was able to truly experience what the real side of the healthcare industry was like as a nurse aid. Being there, creating bonds with the patients, and learning more was what made me want to further my career in this field. Maybe not as a nurse aid, but now I know what a nurse aid does and how their job really helps other health specialists. It was special to me knowing that we are one of the few high schools in the state that are able to experience clinicals, which I used to build on my resume.
The constant use of hands on projects in the classroom that you can’t find elsewhere prepares the future welder, nurse, and electrician for the industry they want to go in.
These experiences help the student advance through their pathway of dual enrollment efficiently. This flexibility is unique about the YES Program and allows the student to move through credentials at his or her own pace. The YES program manager, Mrs. Reid, helps every student stay on track to their pathway in welding, IT, healthcare, and other credentials. This support for the student who wants to achieve as much as they can is a unique experience in the YES program.
Students are given confidence in the benefits of taking the courses by saving both time and money in the long run of getting his or her degree. The student may even graduate with several degrees in their field, thanks to the YES Program, and he or she will have a head start in a chosen career.