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Health care fields most popular for Hall County Schools' Honors Mentorship Program
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Cody Brown looks at Christopher Hand's mentorship project Wednesday evening during Honors Mentorship Presentation Night at Lanier Charter Career Academy at the Oaks. Both Brown and Hand had mentorships in the engineering field. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Health care and education made up nearly half of the presentations at Hall County Schools’ Honors Mentorship Night on Wednesday. More than 60 students presented their capstone projects to community members, family and school officials.

The Honors Mentorship Program is a yearlong class for intellectually gifted or artistically talented 11th-grade and 12th-grade students. The students are matched with a profession in which they are interested.

In addition, the students have weekly assignments and a mentorship teacher. They present their capstone projects to a panel of community professionals.

The event was at The Oaks at Lanier Charter Career Academy.

Health care is a favored field. Surgery, anesthesiology, nursing, physical therapy, physician’s assistant and cardiology are some of the fields of study.

That does not include pharmacy or veterinary interests.

A number of the students said they first became interested in their fields in their childhood.

Connor Lofton, a West Hall High School student, said he wrote his first short story in the fourth grade. He wants to combine writing and law. He plans to work in a public defender’s office, and he plans to study at the University of North Georgia with a criminal justice major.

But his capstone project and mentorship were about psychology. He thought about becoming a psychiatrist — until he realized how many years were required.

Savannah Girard, a Flowery Branch High School student, looked to nursing because “more of my heart was kind of into that.”

She thinks she may specialize in neonatal care. Her internship at Guilford Immediate Care gave her a “pretty good” picture of the nursing experience, she said. It “is interesting enough” to hold her attention.

She plans to major in biology at the University of Georgia and then pursue a graduate degree.

The father of Leonel Jimenez suffered through cardiac arrest, and his son is interested in being a physician’s assistant in cardiology. He worked with Allison Dupont at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and received catheters used in the procedures performed.

Jimenez is an East Hall High School student and plans to attend Augusta University and major in biology.

Chase Nicholson, a junior at Chestatee High School, plans to enlist in the Navy, becoming the fifth generation of his family to serve there, and also to start his plan to become an aircraft technician and then an aeronautical engineer.

He said learning to work on the aircraft is almost as specialized as being a fighter pilot — for which, he said, “You almost have to be genetically engineered.”

He learned about the difficulties and unique aspects of the field during his internship at Lanier Aviation, he said.

The more he has learned about the inner workings of a plane, Nicholson said, he realized “I want to design these things.” He hopes to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Arizona campus for an engineering degree.

Jake Shewbert, a Flowery Branch High student, is headed to the Naval Academy, where he will run track and cross country. But his project was about investments — and how real estate can be a strong part of that.

Shewbert has done two internships, one with Edward Jones in 2015 and one with Funari Realty this year.

He said he was “intrigued” by investments, but a major in that is really not common in universities.

Shewbert said he had dreamed about the Naval Academy since he was in the sixth grade.

Samantha Updegrove, a North Hall High School student, plans to become an anesthesiologist assistant after her internship at Limestone Surgery Center.

She plans to attend Mercer University and major in biochemistry.

She became interested in the field when she had a broken arm in the fifth grade, she said.

“I was so amazed by the whole idea of not remembering any pain,” Updegrove said.