Eighth-Graders Get Hands-On with Healthcare Careers at Expo

Oct 12, 2010

Organizers of a recent career expo in Mobile hoped eighth-graders like Jalisa Conner would walk away thinking about two big questions: "What could I do as a career?" and "Why should I stay in school?"

Jalisa and some 8,700 other students were given plenty to think about at the Worlds of Opportunity Career Expo, a first-year project of the Southwest Alabama Workforce Development Council and its partners in industry and education--including Virginia College at Mobile.

The Expo provided hands-on demonstrations of a variety of jobs integral to the area's economy: energy, construction, maritime, aerospace, manufacturing, healthcare, architecture and engineering, communications, auto technology and public service work.

In this case, "hands-on" means bells and whistles, and that's where Virginia College stood out. The school provided a simulated operating room in which pending graduates demonstrated surgical techniques while explaining their program of study. Allowing the eighth-graders to participate in creating incisions and sutures created a buzz around the exhibit, but a "mom" named Noelle was the event's real rock star.

Noelle, Virginia College's fully-functioning birthing simulator, delivered over 400 babies into the waiting arms of fascinated students, including Jalisa Conner. See video coverage by the Mobile Press-Register and WKRG News 5.

To make all this happen, Joe LeMark and Denise Freij of Virginia College's Career Services department collaborated with Mobile Infirmary Medical Center, Providence Hospital and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce to provide the healthcare exhibits. Pending graduates from Virginia College's Medical Assistant, Surgical Technician and Associate Degree in Nursing programs volunteered to demonstrate the "real world" of the medical industry.

After witnessing the birth of one of Noelle's babies, Jalisa said she could see herself going into the medical profession, but confessed, "It makes me not want to have kids. " "I've got a lot to think about," she said.

About Virginia College

Virginia College, with campuses in nine states, is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America (ECA), which provides skilled graduates for America's employers. Other ECA-owned schools include online programs of Virginia College, Golf Academy of America, Ecotech Institute, and Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College.