Guest Post By CeCe Todd, East Valley Institute of Technology
Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing student success stories about how local students have pursued their passions with the help of specialized programs right here in the East Valley.
Taylor Smith’s passion for the health-care industry started when she was in middle school. Her best friend was from Brazil, where her mother had been hospitalized for months after being in a serious accident.
“They would tell me about how neglectful doctors were or how they simply didn’t have the resources they needed to adequately treat patients,” Smith, now 19, recalled. “Even though I was young and honestly did not truly understand the gravity of the situation, my friend’s story always stayed with me.”
Six years since that initial spark of interest, Smith is now a pre-med sophomore at the University of Arizona with a pre-neuroscience and cognitive sciences major and a minor in Portuguese. She is working as an ophthalmic technician and medical scribe while going to college – a career pathway that got its start at the East Valley Institute of Technology, where Smith completed the Emergency Medical Technician program in 2019.
“It gave me the opportunity to fully utilize the time we have in high school to achieve my EMT license,” she said. “Also, certain EVIT courses offer college credit from local community colleges, which is very beneficial. Dual enrollment credits save you time and so much money in college, so I am thankful for this opportunity.”
Smith enrolled at EVIT when she was a junior at Desert Vista High School in the Tempe Union High School District – one of 11 East Valley school districts that send students to EVIT for a half-day of career training in over 40 different occupational programs. Charter school, private school and home-schooled students also attend EVIT. High school programs are tuition-free. Adult Education @ EVIT offers post-secondary career training that is tuition-based, with financial aid available in many programs for students who qualify.
“EVIT is a big commitment,” said Smith, who took summer school courses to be able to fit EVIT into her schedule her junior and senior years in high school. “Despite the sacrifices I made to be at EVIT, every day I was there, I was excited about what I would learn that day.”
In addition to earning her EMT license, Smith also was certified in Basic Life Support and in Adult and Pediatric AED/CPR/First Aid. She not only takes college classes and works two jobs, but also volunteers with Banner Health, where she assists the nursing staff in screening patients and guests for COVID-19.
None of it seems like work though, but rather, a calling – a love for helping others and creating positive change that she discovered in herself while at EVIT.
“My clinical rotations in the emergency department and speaking with medical professionals at job fairs introduced me to my career goal,” she said. “I now aspire to be a cardio-thoracic surgeon with Doctors Without Borders. I believe proper medical treatment is a basic human right and I want to contribute as much as I can to make this accessible to all. I want to be a doctor that makes a difference.”
EVIT students have a 98 percent high school graduation rate and 2 out of 3 go on to college. Within a year of completing their program, 94 percent are in jobs related to their training, college or the military. Enroll: www.evit.com.
Taylor’s Career Path:
- Learned about EVIT in middle school
- Took a beginning health-care course at EVIT as a junior
- Completed the EVIT EMT program as a senior
- Earned EMT license & other health certifications
- Volunteered at Banner Health
- Works as an Ophthalmic Tech & Medical Scribe
- Enrolled as pre-med major at University of Arizona
- Goal: Become a surgeon for Doctors Without Borders