In February 2012, the U.S. Department of Education‘s Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, Dr. Brend Dann-Messier, visited Hillwood High School. The purpose of Dr. Dann-Messier’s visit was to learn about the Academies of Nashville program and how the academy model has been implemented across MNPS and at Hillwood in particular. Students at Hillwood wrote letters to Dr. Dann-Messier to describe how their academies have changed their outlook on education and prepared them for college and career. The letter that follows was written by Zahraa A., a senior in the Academy of Health Sciences. She writes about moving to the United States, learning English, and learning about the healthcare industry.
My name is Zahraa Abdulameer. I am a senior at Hillwood High School, and I am the HOSA Club President. I moved to the United States in 2008. I knew little to no English. My first year was a challenge that I successfully overcame. I was attending a different high school in Nashville as a freshman. However, because of my interests, I researched schools that offered healthcare-related classes and found Hillwood. I moved to Hillwood as a sophomore and enrolled in the Academy of Health Sciences. I took many classes that were healthcare-related like health science education, medical therapeutics, dual enrollment medical terminology, dual enrollment anatomy, emergency medical services, and a clinical internship. It was like climbing a ladder; I took it step by step and learned a lot.
Learning the language while studying these subjects was challenging; however, with my dedication and the support of the health science teachers, I achieved what I have today. Taking the dual enrollment classes was one of the best things about the health academy. I gained a lot of knowledge in these classes and received college credits. The Academy of Health Sciences helped me as a person, not only academically, but on a deeper level. I learned how to lead and be in charge, I learned to express my opinions, and, most importantly, I learned that I can accomplish my dream of being a doctor. I want to be a cardiac surgeon. I was uncertain about my skills and abilities, but the health academy gave me the confidence and support I need.
I’m currently interning at Centennial Medical Center ICU. The experience I get there is beyond words. I observe the hospital environment closely instead of just learning about it in books. This internship has affected me greatly. This experience adds to my knowledge and allows me to experience patient care firsthand. I have been able to participate and ask questions about patient diagnosis as well. As a senior, I feel I am well prepared to enter college. I have the background knowledge that makes me more certain when I choose my major.
Finally, the HOSA Club has influenced me greatly. I learned how to be independent yet a good team player. Through the HOSA Club, I was able to attend the HOSA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, CA. Attending a conference at my age was something I never dreamed of experiencing, but HOSA provided the opportunity.
I truly feel the Academy of Health Sciences has shaped who I am today. It provided me with knowledge that I will carry for the rest of my life. It also made me learn about myself through experiencing different situations. It made my future more visible and clear. I feel fortunate to be an Academy of Health Sciences student at Hillwood High School