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Catholic schools’ academies let students pursue their career dreams

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, March 1, 2014, at 9:43 a.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, May 27, 2014, at 9:28 a.m.

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Israel Hernandez has known since he was a boy, when he built things with Legos, that he would be an engineer.

“My mom said that’s what engineers do,” Hernandez said. “And that’s what I thought I would be interested in.”

So, as a senior at Bishop Carroll High School, Hernandez is among 24 students who are learning the principles of engineering.

It’s one of three academies provided by Bishop Carroll Catholic High School to give students hands-on experience in careers they eventually may want to pursue. Kapaun Mount Carmel offers one academy dealing with health, which has about a dozen students.

Bishop Carroll’s academies are Project Lead the Way Engineering-St. Benedict, St. Gianna Catholic Health Academy and Tom Seiler Teaching Academy.

In the Catholic faith, St. Benedict is a protector of engineers, according to Vanessa Harshberger, principal at Bishop Carroll. St. Gianna is the protector of those in the medical profession, and Tom Seiler was a longtime beloved science and physics teacher at Bishop Carroll.

In each of the academies, senior students apply, compete and are interviewed before being selected.

At Bishop Carroll, Anna Suellentrop said she wants to serve as a nurse in the Air Force.

Abbey Cotter said she has discovered she wants to become a hospice nurse.

“I knew I wanted to help people. It’s what I have wanted to do since I was 10 years old,” Cotter said.

“I wanted to be a humanitarian, to be a missionary and go to foreign countries. My mom told me that’s not really a career. So I decided to pursue and look into nursing.

“Now my desire is to help the elderly, to become a hospice nurse. I don’t see it as helping them to die but helping them into life – like heaven. I’ve learned every aspect of the health field,” Cotter said.

The teaching academy is a way for Bishop Carroll’s Miranda Reichenberger to interact with children. She said she plans on teaching second-graders.

“I love that age,” Reichenberger said. “I love children.

“I want to be with kids and see the awesome change. I look back at my teachers and see how they shaped who I am,” she said.

Harshberger said the concept for the health academy has been part of the two Catholic schools for a decade. It started as a partnership with Via Christi Hospitals, Newman University and Bishop Carroll.

“Via Christi told us they needed help in getting students interested in health care but not necessarily becoming doctors or surgeons,” Harshberger said.

The school’s engineering academy began this past year. Nearly 40 students applied, Harshberger said. Only two dozen were chosen.

“It seemed like something fun,” said Alex Miller, one of the students picked for the program. “I love problem solving.”

The engineering students learn design and principles.

Students in the health academy learn health science research, communication and technology in health science.

“I’ve known I wanted to be in the medical field since eighth grade,” Suellentrop said. “My grandma was a nurse. It just drew me in.”

In the teaching academy, students learn various teaching styles and gain experience working with students at all age levels.

Jay Pacha said he plans to be a math teacher.

“Both my parents are teachers and both of their moms were teachers,” Pacha said. “We call it ‘going into the family business.’

“But what I like about math is that there are no judgmental answers like on an essay test, where a word choice could be wrong. In math, the answers are either right or wrong.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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