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Pinning ceremony shines a light on UCPS students who are considering a future in healthcare

Pride, excitement, and many smiling faces filled Monroe High’s media center during the Health Sciences Academy pinning ceremony on Oct. 12. 

During the event, 27 Monroe High sophomores and juniors were pinned as a show of commitment to the Health Sciences Academy at the school. 

Union County Public Schools (UCPS) Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan, senior leaders, Board of Education members, and Atrium Heath personnel attended the ceremony.

The Health Sciences Academy in partnership with Atrium Health launched four years ago at Monroe Middle to increase student engagement. Since that time, the scope, partnership, and experiences for students and staff have grown and the academy has expanded to the elementary and high school levels.  

Before the students received their pins, they heard from two very important leaders who have been committed to the health sciences academy since its inception. Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan told students that we have been looking forward to this day for a very long time.

“There are a lot of people committed to this academy and committed to you,” Dr. Houlihan said. "You are paving the way for future generations of students who are interested in health sciences and we're so proud of you."

Atrium Health has been instrumental to the success of the academy, providing key resources to help students learn more about the healthcare field. Mike Lutes, Atrium Health South Market President told students that healthcare occupations are expected to grow 16 percent over the next 10 years.

“The fact is you will have your choice of jobs when you graduate,” Lutes said. “So, when I look at you students, I look at you as a cavalry. I look at you as our reinforcements. I look at this group in front of me as my greatest hope for healthcare and the workforce of the future.”

As students transition from middle school to Monroe High, they further consider a future career in healthcare. By the time they are sophomores, they are officially inducted into the academy with an understanding of that commitment. Upon graduation, students have the opportunity to earn a CNA, EMT, and other health certificates. 

COVID-19 has changed some of the activities for the academy, but that hasn’t stopped students from learning more about the healthcare field. Professionals visit with students virtually and they have participated in live surgeries and various EMS services have visited the students to discuss career opportunities.  

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do for a career, but I believe this program will help me narrow it down and decide what to do for a career,” said Nicolette Covington, a sophomore at Monroe High. Nicolette has an interest in nursing and healthcare administration. 

Monroe High sophomore Ian Boeving comes from a healthcare legacy. His father is an RN, and he has other relatives who are veterinarians. 

“What I enjoy most about being in the Academy is being a part of one big group of students who are dedicated,” said Ian. After high school, Ian plans to join the Air Force, and then enter the healthcare field. 

“We found out very quickly when we talked to students that when they thought about healthcare, they think nursing or doctors, and eight to 12 years in school,” said Melissa Hines, the Health Sciences Academy coordinator with Atrium Health that oversees the Academy at UCPS. “So, we really had to change that misconception about healthcare, you don’t have to be a nurse. You could be an administrator, work in finance, there are so many different areas and we wanted to show that to students.” 

Mrs. Hines added that success in the academy is receiving a certificate upon graduation and entering the healthcare field or attending college. “I want students to walk away from this program knowing that they’ve worked really hard, and they should be proud of themselves, and I want them to be confident about their next steps,” said Hines. 

“The goal for every student is to figure out what their strengths and opportunities are and what they’re going to be happy doing. We want them to leave high school with a plan,” said Shannon Batchelor, Monroe High principal. “For students, it is huge for the community to be excited for them and to see adults that are invested in them and their success. I’m very proud of them.” 

Congratulations to the following students who are committed to the Health Sciences Academy! To learn more about the Health Sciences Academy at Monroe High, click here

To watch the pinning ceremony, click here

Class of 2023

Dorian Daniels

Tania Escoto-Berrios

Kelly Garcia-Sandoval

Yatziri Gomez Medina

Nancy Palacios-Ramos

Jocelyn Salinas

Class of 2024

Ian Boeving

Asia Covington

Nicolette Covington

Ariday Garcia-Jimenez

Saniya Gingham

Jaylen Harrison

Javon Lee

Yaretzi Inez Lopez-Gamez

Natalie Lopez

Orlien Martinez Alvarenga

Jordan Massey

Keily Morales Leal

Isamar Palma

Maura Paxtor-Gonzalez

Estefania Reyes-Reyes

Lucia Rios-Morales

Ashley Rivera-Cuamacateco

Amy Rodriguez

Leyah Smith

Dyansti Sowell

Marla Zapata

Please see the pictures of the pinning ceremony in the photo gallery below:



Published Oct. 13, 2021