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Seniors help students plot their future
Retired gastroenterologist Dr. Ken Tuttle hands Gainesville High School junior Sandra Imperial, 16, a packet of information about the medical field Wednesday during the fifth annual Junior Achievers meet Senior Achievers at Lanier Village Estates. Sandra, who is interested in becoming a doctor in the U.S. Army, had the opportunity to speak with retired professionals in her field of interest. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

It’s one thing to read about something in a textbook, but it’s quite another to hear firsthand accounts from people who have lived it.

That’s just the opportunity that 120 Hall County high school students got as participants in the fifth annual Junior Achievers meet Senior Achievers. The event, which was held at Lanier Village Estate, gives students the opportunity to learn about careers of interest from residents of the retirement community who have worked in the given field.

“This program was created by former resident Will Jackson and (his family). One day, he was just thinking and realized that there were so many intelligent people who live here, who have so much knowledge and there was a whole (outside) community that we could help,” said Caroline Van de Pol, Lanier resident organizer.

During the annual event, students are able to choose two learning lessons to participate in. The sessions ranged from hospitality, to electronics and the small business industry.

“The hours aren’t the best, but when you are in the operating room, you get to stand right at the doctor’s elbow and see everything that’s going on. It really makes you feel like you are a part of the team,” said Binky Farris, a retired operating room technician.

“I’ve done many things in my life, but I found (the medical field) to be very interesting and stimulating. I wish that I had gotten into it sooner.”

In addition to pointing out some of the necessary character traits to be in the medical field — “giving a darn” and “being flexible and resilient” — the resident advisers also gave out other advice for students interested in becoming a doctor.

“First comes college — that can take three or four years, depending on how much of a hurry you are in to finish. You will need to take courses like biology, physics and chemistry. Next comes medical school,” said Dr. Ken Tuttle, a retired gastroenterologist.

“The tricky thing there is that your high school record becomes unimportant. The game starts to get serious when you enter college as a freshman. If you are admitted into medical school, the only way not to graduate is to quit. They make sure you get it. It’s a lot of work, but there’s no excuse not to finish. After that comes a one year internship where you get to do rotations.”

“Rotations are good because you still don’t know yourself completely yet, so they give you the opportunity to see what life is like and what the stressors are in each of the (specialty areas).”

For students like Anntasia Holder, the seminar proved to be very useful.

“This was very interesting, I learned a lot,” said Anntasia, a Gainesville High School junior.

“Like, I thought I only needed two years of college to be a registered nurse, but I’ve learned that some programs can take four years.”

While not all of the student participants were as decided as Anntasia, there was still something for them to learn.

“There’s nothing wrong with not knowing where you are going,” Van de Pol said.

“But at least know what is out there.”