As the oldest magnet school in Northside ISD, there are a lot of perceptions about what it’s like to attend Health Careers High School.
“People assume our school is boring or for nerds,” senior Hailey Olguin said. “I don’t think they realize all we have to offer. Everybody is included here. I love that so much. People here care about school. They’ll go out of their way to help you. It sets us up for college.”
Olguin is part of the school’s medical assisting program and also spent the past four years on the track and cross country teams. She’s studying now for her Medical Assistant Certification, something she’s been preparing for with hands-on labs to learn CPR, sutures, how to take vital signs and give injections, and eventually how to draw blood which is a skill they’ll practice on their classmates. Her goal is to become a neurosurgeon or trauma surgeon and she plans to serve in the military to help pay for medical school.
She was drawn to the medical profession because of two women in her life – her mother who worked as a nurse and her tia who recently passed away and battled many health conditions.
“We always need nurses and medical professionals,” Olguin said. “The job is to see people and help people.”
The same can be said about Health Careers teachers – students say it’s the teachers who help them manage what can be a demanding course load.
“It’s not an easy school but it has a lot to offer,” said junior Haris Tahir. “There’s a big family waiting for you. You always see people you know and everyone is so cool. The teachers try their best to help me. They know you and care about you. The main thing that’s kept me here is the environment. I’m always excited to come here.”
Tahir is in the dental program which has updated lab space in a new building that houses many of the school’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses. The back of the classroom looks like a dental office with chairs and all the equipment a dentist would need to see patients. Students are learning to make models of teeth and mouth guards and can work towards a dental certification their senior year. Tahir hopes to obtain an entry level dental assistant job and then decide where to take his career.
Not everyone who attends Health Careers aspires to be a doctor or nurse. Senior Elijah Morgan wants to be a government or history teacher, but still plans to take advantage of what he’s learned in the pharmacy strand. He’ll take the Pharmacy Technician certification in April and hopes to get a job at a pharmacy while he’s in college.
His most memorable experiences at Health Careers are as host and organizer of First Friday, a monthly tradition. The main hallway is packed during lunch periods and the crowd is ready for up to 10 performances.
“First Friday is no intimidation,” Morgan said. “It’s an open space to do anything and be unique. Teachers and students do it. We are nerdy but we have friends and talent and are people outside of books and studying.”
Make no mistake though – the courses are challenging, but the end result is worth it to Health Careers students.
“It pushes me to see all the smart kids here,” sophomore Sarah Byrd said. “I want to get A’s and do better. You’re going to learn time management and how to work under pressure. It’s a safe space with people here to support you and friends that will fit with you. It’s worth it. If you want to be successful in life, this is the school.”
Byrd is also a student athlete. Last year she made the varsity tennis team as a freshman. She hopes to use her athletic skills to earn an scholarship and then a medical degree.
“We definitely have a larger workload than other schools, but it’s training you up to be at the college level,” Byrd said. “It won’t be a culture shock. It’s big opportunity to come to Health Careers.”
Health Careers High School offers students strands of study in Health Diagnostics, Healthcare Therapeutic, and Engineering. Each strand then offers further specialties like pharmacology, dental, medical research, and biomedical engineering.
The school will host open houses for prospective students on Jan. 4 and 10 starting at 6:30 p.m.