LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Evers, stopped in La Crosse Wednesday to learn about the La Crosse School District's Health Science Academy.
The academy is for high school juniors and seniors. It's a rigorous program that allows students to explore medical careers with specialized courses and job shadowing.
"I've known I always wanted to be I the health field," said Mackenzie Hollowitsch, a senior at Logan High School. "I wanna be able to help people."
So Mackenzie Hallowitsch applied and was accepted in to the Health Science Academy.
The two year program starts students in their junior year. Participants spend the first few hours of their school day taking health courses and working in the local hospitals.
"There experiences in the health science academy really give them an idea of all the different possibilities they could go in to health care and also has them hands on try if maybe that's a career for them," said Annette O'Hern, the Supervisor of Career and Choice Education for La Crosse School District.
The academy is a partnership with the local college and universities as well as Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System. Evers says the project helps students prepare for college and fill a demand in the area.
"It meets extraordinary needs of the business community," Evers said. "There's lots of jobs available in the medical fields and what this does is it really breaks down barriers between high school, post-secondary."
O'Hern says one of the most popular parts of the academy is job shadows with local medical professionals. Pha Vang says that's how he decided what he wanted to do.
"I job shadowed two people at Gundersen an it was really fun and I decided to stick to nursing," said Pha Vang, a senior at Central High School.
Mackenzie also determined her career path through a job shadow.
"I've learned a lot," Mackenzie said. "It's helped me understand what I want to be. I know I want to work with kids now and I'm really interested in pediatric oncology."
So far the academy graduated 3 classes of health science students. And last year, all 25 grads went on to college and declared health care career majors.
About 20 students are accepted in to the program each year. The School District of La Crosse is currently accepting applications from current sophomores. For more information or to apply, click here.
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