A serious expression swept across Jasmine Arias’ face as Noel Wilson was about ready to give “birth” to her son, Hal.
“Have your hands ready. You are going to be guiding the baby out,” instructed Catherine Barnes, a member of the nursing faculty at Wilson Community College.
Jasmine was one 62 juniors from three Wilson County high schools who participated in a job shadowing event that was part of the Career Connections Program established by Wilson Education Partnership.
The Beddingfield High School student helped baby Hal shift his shoulder to ease the birth.
“Oh look, here comes the baby,” Barnes said. “Hold the baby up. Here’s baby Hal. Oh look, you did so great,” Barnes tells the Jasmine and the baby’s mother.
Fortunately for Jasmine, Noel Wilson was a high-fidelity mannequin that had given birth to baby Hal many, many times at the Virtual Medical Center at Wilson Medical Center.
The training facility is a partnership between the hospital and Wilson Community College that is funded by Golden LEAF Foundation.
Some 14 of the students spent the morning at the medical center to learn about careers in medicine.
“It was pretty amazing experiencing delivering a baby,” Jasmine said. “Feeling the baby’s head and feeling it coming out, that was pretty amazing. It made me realize that this is something that I actually want to go in for. I can see myself doing this.”
The students had a variety of job interests including social worker, ultrasound tech, pediatric nurse, dental assistant and occupational therapist among other career paths.
“Nursing has always been a good field for me, and it all started in high school,” said Becky Strickland, dean of allied health and sciences at Wilson Community College. “One good thing about nursing is it is diverse,” Strickland said. “You can work in community health, public health. There are many options. When you are in school, we expose you to all of those areas. When you graduate, you have an idea of what area you want to go into.”
Strickland said the simulations facilitated by the mannequins give students a safe place to practice.
“A lot of schools don’t have this at all, so we are very fortunate,” Barnes said, referring to the $40,000 mannequin used to simulate birth.
Morgan Bean, evening nursing student at Wilson Community College, told the high school students that they needed to maintain composure to be a nurse.
“You need to have your mind right because it is very, very stressful, but it is very rewarding,” Bean said.
Robin Williams, executive director for Wilson Education Partnership, said the purpose of the career connection program is to get students into career settings where they can talk to real professionals and get a sense of whether that is the path they want to pursue.
“A lot of students do not know what they want to do after graduation,” Williams said. “They don’t know if they want to go to college. They don’t know if they want to go to a two-year college. We are trying to give as many kids exposure to different careers that we can.”
Williams said local Wilson businesses have been wonderful in partnering with WEP to let students get into their area for about three hours.
“They can ask questions. They can find out what job opportunities are,” Williams said. “It is difficult to get these students in somewhere for three hours because people are so busy.”
Unique to this year is WEP’s partnership with WCC.
“We have three different things going on with them. We have students for health sciences. We have students for technology like 3-D printer, computer, and then we have business,” Williams said. “What they are doing in business, is these students are interested in either business or budgets or accounting or investments, so Wilson Community College is bringing their CFO in to talk about how you manage a $20 million budget, and they will have two representatives from Southern Bank coming in to talk about banker relationships, what’s involved in banking, what careers there are in banking.”
Technology students went to the WCC Lee Technology Center.
“They are going to be able to build something with a 3D printer. They are going to look at anything that is science and technology and math they can do in jobs,” Williams said. “A lot of students think that you have to be a chemistry major or a math major in order to be able to do something in STEM, and you don’t. So they are going to give them all of the opportunities that you can do and what classes you need and what degrees and certificates are available if someone wants to go to school for two years or someone wants to just get a certificate. They are just going to give them a lot of different avenues.”
All of the students were able to do hands-on activities.
“The ones that are really interested, we will follow up with those same students in the fall, bring them back again and let them see the next step,” Williams said. “We will be helping them know what they need to do as far as the next steps for careers and where they need to go to get it. Today is just a preview of these students trying to figure out what they like, but we are going to take it a step further.”
Wilson Community College had the bulk of these students for the program, but a handful of students went to other area businesses.
“We have two job shadowing an orthodontist. We have three job shadowing S.T. Wooten,” Williams said. “We have eight job shadowing in the school system. They want to be teachers. We are going to cultivate them for hopefully coming back here to teach if this is something they like. At the community college, they get to learn the education piece and the career piece and they also talk about business that are in Wilson that they can get a certificate and go straight to work for. It’s a great program.”