Arvin’s new health lab launches unique career pathways

March 22, 2019 /

Arvin High student Reina Pantoja is considering a career in forensics. The idea of using science to solve crimes fascinates her.

In Arvin High’s Foundations in Health Science course, she’s learned you can determine the a person’s race simply by looking at their pelvic bone, tibia and fibula, and you can determine the cause of a murder and the time of death by using science.

“It’s very interesting,” Pantoja said. “Let’s say I work for a police department — if I find a victim’s murderer, how relieved the family will be.”

But if it weren’t for Arvin High’s new Health Sciences Career Lab — one of the only ones in the region — Pantoja may have never received an introduction to forensics.

Although the lab opened in September, it was officially unveiled at a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday. It was made possible through a partnership between The California Endowment and the Kern Community College District, according to a news release.

A phlebotomy station is set up in Arvin High’s Health Sciences Career Lab.

“(The lab) gives students a chance to explore different careers and figure out what they do like and what they don’t like,” said Arvin High’s lab instructor Kaley Hawkins. “It gives them an opportunity to see medical careers that aren’t just doctors and nurses — the traditional things you think of.”

The Healthcare Career Lab features 17 different stations, including biotechnology, dentistry, emergency medical technician, forensics, mental health, ophthalmology, pharmacology, sports medicine, veterinary medicine and more. 

Each area has a station equipped with tools, giving students hands-on learning experiences in various medical careers. The classroom has a phlebotomy station, microscopes, a veterinary tool kit and an eye-exam sheet, just to name a few.

The goal of the Career Technical Education course is to provide students with career-ready practices in the medical field. By the end of the year-long course, students would have completed all 17 units, giving them a better idea of their interests.

“Bakersfield College is building a campus across the street. What I’m doing is building a pathway that is a springboard,” said Arvin High Principal Ed Watts. “So when my kids get through here, they can go right across the street and specialize.”

Students in the Health Sciences Career Lab pose for a photo after a ribbon cutting ceremony.

This program helps students, “get started and get focused,” Watts said.

“If they get the sport medicine focus, think about what that says,” Watts said. “That student has to be a good math person. They have to learn how to write.”

The Health Sciences Career Lab is one of 10 CTE courses Arvin High offers its students. Other CTE programs include agriculture sciences, video productions and auto technology.

“This program is very much in line with where we are needed moving forward,” said Thomas Burke, KCCD’s chancellor. “We see these pathway programs as a means to getting better results for our students so they can all have a pathway to a career. These program provide opportunities to our students to achieve their goals.”

Elizabeth Sanchez

Elizabeth Sanchez is the program associate for South Kern Sol. She can be reached at