Kelly Peachey wanted to be a pediatrician since she was in grade school. Now, with the help of the new Innovation Campus – Health Professions Academy at Ozarks Technical Community College, the 17-year-old from Glendale High School has received a big boost toward achieving her goal.
“The Academy has been very good preparation for working in the healthcare field,” Peachey said. “It’s a good environment and has good teachers.”
The Innovation Campus Academy began this past fall and is designed for high school students who want a career in the health care industry. A cooperative partnership between OTC, Missouri State University, Greene County, The Springfield Business Development Corporation, Springfield Public Schools, CoxHealth and Mercy Health Systems made the Innovation Campus Academy possible. The program is funded through a $1 million Innovation Campus Grant, which Governor Jay Nixon announced in the summer of 2012. At the time of the announcement, Gov. Nixon said, “Innovation Campuses create a direct connection for Missouri students between the skills they learn in the classroom, and the skills that are in demand today. Not only will students be trained for solid careers in growing industries, they’ll be able to earn those degrees in less time with lower debt as a result.”
Participating students begin taking college coursework in an early start program as high school juniors and seniors. They have the potential to earn an associate degree from OTC and a bachelor’s degree from Missouri State in a variety of healthcare fields within three to five years after high school graduation. Once students have earned a bachelor’s degree, they will be eligible for priority hiring at Mercy and CoxHealth.
“The Academy gives students a head start on their future careers, enabling them to obtain their collegiate prerequisite allied health classes,” said Jessica Crocker, an Academy instructor. “This program is for topflight students, offers a rigorous, accelerated program of study with selected college courses relevant to a wide variety of allied health degrees.”
Jezreel Irving, a junior from Parkview High School, said the work is challenging, “The best part is the freedom and responsibility that comes with being here. It’s more work than high school but they treat you like you’re in college. I’m ready for college now.”
Savanna Burnett, 17, from Hillcrest High School, agreed with Jezreel’s assessment, “I like that it’s challenging,” she said. “Before, at high school, everything was so easy. Here, I have to apply myself to earn a good grade.”
Dr. LaRaine Bauer, who oversees the academy through OTC’s Middle College program, said the transition for students is amazing.
“Starting college early may sound scary to some students,” she said, “but once students experience the sense of freedom associated with attending class on a college campus, they never regret their decision to leave traditional high school behind.”
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