WCCC students discover career passions in high school

We talk with three class standouts.

The Warren County Career Center is helping students determine their career paths while in high school.

For some students their two-year course of study confirms their decision, while others discover new passions.

Three students talk about their experiences: WCCC valedictorian Mackenzie New, salutatorian Jackson Cornwell and a WCCC Education Foundation Scholarship honoree Zach Back.

Q: What are your future plans?

New: I completed the health science program. I plan to use my scholarship (a full scholarship to Wright State University) to major in middle school education social studies and English. I would like to work with fourth- or fifth-grade students.

Cornwell: I completed the legal office technology program. I will be entering Wright State University this fall to major in bioscience. (Cornwell was awarded a scholarship to WSU.) I want to continue on to medical school and am interested in becoming a surgeon.

Back: I finished the advanced technologies and robotics program and am preparing for an apprenticeship. I applied in November for the program through Festo Corporation, an international manufacturing company in Maineville. In April, I was interviewed and accepted for the Mechatronics Apprentice Program.

Q: What impact has WCCC had on you?

New: Originally I was interested in a career in the medical field, but about halfway through my senior year, I decided healthcare was not the right field for me. I started working with younger kids at church and discovered a love for teaching.

I would rather find out now, before I spend time and money in college, what career really interests me. I love being able to help people but could not see myself doing healthcare for the rest of my life. … I got a lot of hands-on experience in the medical field and realized I wanted a different career path. At age 10 and 11, a lot of things are changing, and it is a crucial time period for children. I would like to help out and make a difference in their lives.

Cornwell: In between my junior and senior year, I decided I wanted to go into the medical field and did my senior project on the medical aspects of a court case. That is what is so great about the career center. It gives you the experience, and you can try it out before you spend money and time on college. A career tech program gives you what you can't get in just a classroom. You are actually out there getting the experience.

Back: I feel prepared to go on for more training. I am excited to be in the apprenticeship program.It is a paid internship, and the company will also pay for my education.

Q: Why did you decide to attend WCCC?

New: I participated in career camp after seventh grade and then went on the eighth-grade tours. That cemented it for me. Many career center students graduate with college credit, certification and are working in their field. To me, it was a no-brainer to enroll.

(New is the fourth WCCC graduate in her family. Mother Jackie, a member of the WCCC Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame and a 1984 graduate, works in the WCCC counselors’ office. Father Rick graduated in 1982 and brother Austin in 2012. Her grandmother is a former custodian at the school.)

Cornwell: During sophomore tours, I chose to visit the legal office program and knew that was the field I was interested in. I talked with my parents about enrolling at the career center. It was a big decision and a lot to leave behind. It was like starting over, but we made it work, and I enrolled in the legal program. I stayed active at my home school in theater and choir. As we studied the court cases in the legal program, we were exposed to the medical side along with the law, and I found medical facts much more interesting.

Back: I toured the career center in my sophomore year of high school and didn't know about the advanced technology program. I walked in and Mr. (Chuck) Higgins showed me the robot, and I liked it right away. My favorite subjects in the class are the programmable logic controllers and robotics.

Contact this contributing writer at lisa.knodel@gmail.com.

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