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Health Science Academy students honored for participation

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Carlos and his caretaker Sylvia Perry


By Tyler Stocks
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Carlos Alvarado, a senior at D.H. Conley High School, grinned from ear to ear as he zipped around MacGregor Health and Rehabilitation Center in his power wheelchair.

Alvarado, who will complete his high school diploma with an occupational health track, lives with cerebral palsy, but his resilience serves as an inspiration to many of his friends and acquaintances, as well as MacGregor’s residents, officials said. 

“It's a delight to work with Carlos,” said caretaker Sylvia Perry, who has partnered with Alvarado for the past three years. “He has overcome so much and has really done some climbing.”

Alvarado was one of several students who was honored this week for their participation in the Pitt County Health Sciences Academy, a high school curriculum designed to expose and prepare students who wish to pursue healthcare-related careers upon graduation. The program is made possible through a partnership between Vidant Health and Pitt County Schools.

Alvarado received a medal and a certificate during the HSA awards ceremony on Tuesday afternoon at the MacGregor facility in Greenville. Because he volunteers at MacGregor, he also was recognized as the nursing home's volunteer of the month.

Perry said that residents at MacGregor love Alvarado.

“When he comes out here, it's a treat to the residents. The residents light up as Carlos talks with them,” Perry said.

Other students in the Health Sciences Academy program shared the spotlight with Alvarado on Tuesday.

D.H. Conley freshman and academy participant Lauren Roupe sang at the awards ceremony, despite being nervous.

“It was nerve-wracking but once I looked at the faces of the residents and saw the smile on their faces, I relaxed and enjoyed being able to entertain them,” Roupe said.

After the ceremony, Roupe spoke about her experience with the academy.

“I've been volunteering (at MacGregor) a lot and it's been the greatest experience I've ever had,” Roupe said. “This academy has taught me about medical experiences and this has just been wonderful.”

Megan Newman, the academy’s director, said the aim of the program is to foster interest and provide experiences for those interested in health careers. Volunteering at the care facility is one such experience, she said.

“These students (also) get to experience things we can provide to them, such as career fairs, expos, senior nights — things to expose them to health care careers,” Newman said. “We have about 1,100 students in our program.”

To be eligible for the academy, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA, have more than 100 volunteer hours, maintain a clean record of discipline, officials said. Upon graduation from the program, many students stay in Pitt County and attend East Carolina University or Pitt Community College to pursue a degree in a healthcare field.

Terry Edwards, who is the activity coordinator at MacGregor, she said young volunteers involved in the academy are a godsend to the residents.

“I believe that the youth help renew the spirit of my residents help resurrect old interests and help them seeing self-worth and value,” Edwards said.

“We change our world by empowering children with education as they embark on their journey,” she said. “It's important to teach responsibility. It's important to teach respect. It's important to teach being a servant. If you learn to serve, you will always sail through life and the wind will be in your sails.”

To learn more about Pitt County Health Science Academy, visit www.pitt.k12.nc.us or follow them on Facebook. 

Contact Tyler Stocks at 252-329-9566 or tstocks@reflector.com.  Follow him on Twitter @TylerstocksGDR