Academy of Science and Medicine Hosts Health Career Night

Photos by Jackie BODNAR
Joe Grimaldi, left, an EMT instructor at Glendale Community College, shared his story with students.

By Lori BODNAR, intern

For students who wondered about the different medical careers available, Crescenta Valley High School provided answers during its Health Career Night on Feb. 21. About 30 doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) gave presentations to students at CVHS about the different professions in the medical field and the path to become a medical professional. 

Students in the Academy of Science and Medicine interested in the medical or health care fields and who are working to get extra credit for their science class attended the Health Career Night. CVHS teacher Orenda Tuason is the coordinator of the event and helps students gain experience and understand the breadth of opportunities in the medical field.

Alamelu Arunachalam has assisted as an administrator with the Academy for nine years.

“It is a wonderful opportunity that Ms. Tuason provides,” Arunachalam said. “The three main events of the Academy are the Academy picnic, Health Career Night, and the Academy banquet, when graduating seniors are awarded their special red stethoscopes. The Academy provides outside curriculum for students. I appreciate that the Academy allows students to expand their horizons.”

Those just entering their careers also spoke to the students. Dia Cabrera is a pharmacy student at Western College School of Pharmacy.

“I am a pharmacy student and I work as a pharmacy technician,” Cabrera said. “I like it because we play a vital role in health care and work with other health care professionals so that people can enjoy a happy and healthy life. My dad worked in the medical field. Working in health care clicked for me and I like helping others.”

In addition to hearing from those who have a more traditional, hands-on role in the health care industry, the students also heard from non-medical staff. Ramella Markarian earned a Master of Science and Master of Business Administration degree. She works at Glendale Adventist Hospital in strategies and business development.

“I like meeting new people and the community,” Markarian said. “Hospitals play a big part in fulfilling the needs of patients.”

Presenters also shared personal stories of their journeys into the health care industry.

“When I was studying chemistry, I was most interested in biochemistry. They were teaching glycolysis and it was interesting to me. I then selected a class on enzymology. In that class, my professor made us do a project. He asked us to search literature and write about what we learned. I found that as I was writing about it, I still had many questions and I researched to find the answers to those questions,” said Dr. Bangyan L. Stiles, Ph.D. who is a professor of medicine at USC. “This was something that got me excited. Now I am a professor at USC in the school of pharmacy. I guide my students [on] how to develop their project and guide them through their problems on their projects.”

John Grimaldi is an EMT instructor at Glendale Community College.

“I like the support that GCC gives to the students. I was blown away by all the services they offer to keep students in school. I have worked for 40 years as an EMT and was in the fire department for 31 years. I like teaching in general and giving back to the community,” Grimaldi said. “I like to teach the future. Being an EMT instructor is a great job. I graduated from CVHS in 1975 and listened to paramedics through a career fair similar to this one. That experience piqued my interest and I got my EMT at PCC.”

The Academy of Science and Medicine provides a career-pathway program for CVHS students who are interested in the fields of medicine, health care, or science. There are around 300 Academy students in grades 10 through 12 at CVHS and the Health Care Night was beneficial to most who attended. 

“I like how everyone is a family in the Academy. I’ve been in the Academy for two years,” said Melanie Khachatryan, a member of the Academy. “I’m going to go into biology and the Academy does a lot in helping me with my career path. I joined the Academy because I always enjoyed the medical field.”

Around 400 students visited the various classrooms to listen to the various presenters. The students stayed in the rooms, and the different presenters rotated in every 20 minutes for six different presentation sessions.

Dahlia Del Castillo, a sophomore, was one of the students who attended Health Career Night.

“I attended Health Career Night for extra credit in my science class,” she said. My favorite part of [the evening] was when the presenters showed the medical photos. Some presenters even let us diagnose, which was really cool. I would definitely consider going into the medical field.”