Ahdriana: Practical guidance to support her career quest

National Scholars Program

She was elated that after she was accepted as a Pathways National Scholar, a Pathways teacher recruited a nurse to be a guest speaker in a class session.

Any poll of American teenagers and their career interests will likely result in the usual suspects — lawyer, entertainer, athlete, doctor, or visual artist.

But a phlebotomist? Yes. That’s really what Ahdriana, a Pathways National Scholar, wants to become, to make her living beyond her schooling. Through the National Scholars Program, Scholars have access to the same proven, research-based curriculum as the Pathways School-Based Scholars Program. The difference is that the after-school sessions are held virtually.

“If I were drawing blood,” Ahdriana begins, “I’d tell my patient just to look away and stay calm, to not get really nervous. I’d tell my patient just to slowly breathe in and out.”

That’s easy for her to say. Getting blood drawn isn’t exactly what most adults would describe as one of their favorite experiences.

But since last fall, Ahdriana, a high school sophomore from Indiana, has been baying for blood — figuratively speaking. It started when she began taking a biomedical science class.

“We did a lab,” Ahdriana says, “and we had a fake arm as a prop and we had to draw liquid from it after we found a vein and put a needle in. The hardest thing about that class was learning about the human heart, but the labs were easy.”

Ahdriana also has been taking a medical terminology class, which she finds challenging because of the sheer volume of vocabulary she’s required to memorize. But she says she loves learning about anatomy and physiology.

So she was elated that after she was accepted as a Pathways National Scholar, a Pathways teacher recruited a nurse to be a guest speaker in a class session.

“The guest speaker was encouraging,” Ahdriana says. “She said that the courses she took were hard, but that she kept on studying and made it through.”

Nursing and dentistry also interest Ahdriana, who wants to be versatile in the health field. Because of her involvement in Pathways, she has identified two institutions of higher learning — Purdue and Morgan State University — that might support her career quest.

Not only is Purdue’s location close to Ahdriana’s hometown, she says it offers all the medical programs she’s interested in. Ahdriana says Morgan State, meanwhile, in Baltimore, Maryland, would offer her the opportunity of attending a prestigious, historically Black university.

“I wanted to join Pathways because we’d take college tours,” Ahdriana says. “We did online tours of Howard University and Indiana University Northwest [in nearby Gary, Indiana]. I really liked visiting those schools’ libraries. But Pathways is also about socializing with peers and getting ready for life, besides talking about getting ready for college and careers. Pathways definitely helps me with my career options.”

A handful of Ahdriana’s schoolmates are in her Pathways group, but she also gets to work with Scholars from other states. Pathways teachers intentionally create a nurturing environment.

“It’s fun hearing from the other kids how their schools run,” Ahdriana says. “We have a part of the meeting called ‘News of the Day,’ and get to share. Pathways teachers are fun and easy to talk to and they teach us about leadership.”

Like the leadership skills that would help one take command of a stressful situation and keep people calm — just what Ahdriana says she’ll do if she becomes a phlebotomist.

“The one who took my blood told me to look away and it wouldn’t hurt,” Ahdriana says. “And it didn’t.”