Horseshoe Bend teen takes on career dream

An ABC TV show and a Idaho dual-credit program is making a small-town girl’s dream become a reality.

Ciara Drake used to watched episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy” with her mother. That’s when Drake realized she wanted to become a surgeon, like the show’s character Meredith Gray.

The Horseshoe Bend High sophomore talked with her school counselor about ways to achieve her dream, while growing up in rural Idaho. The counselor paired Drake with a big-city opportunity — the Pathways to Technology, Early College High School program (or PTECH).

“When you come from a small town, it’s hard to get out there, you’re scared and unsure,” Drake said. “PTECH is helping me transition to become something bigger.”

Drake is on a path to become a surgical technician by the time she graduates high school via the PTECH program, which is designed help teens develop soft skills such as communication, and take sequential courses that could land them a job in a high-growth industry.

“What stood out to me right away about Ciara is that she is in it to win it,” said Ajae Wallace, Drake’s PTECH coach. “Ciara has a clear, well-thought out vision of what she’d like to do in life and she believes in her ability to achieve her dreams.”

Drake’s PTECH coach teaches her how to define goals, be a successful college-level student and navigate the institution of higher education.

This semester Drake is enrolled in online science courses at the College of Western Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University. PTECH is paying for the classes. Her goal is to become a certified surgical technician and work in the medical field while attending college. On top of school work, Drake plays on the Horseshoe Bend High softball and volleyball teams.

Volleyball 1
Ciara Drake, number 10 on the Horseshoe Bend High School volleyball team, finds time to be involved on campus.

“I’m learning time management,” Drake said. “I’m not able to hang out with my friends as much, but it is worth it.”

The Idaho Department of Labor expects 1,500 jobs to be available by 2018 in aerospace/advanced manufacturing, technology and health care and fears there may not be enough applicants to fill all those jobs. The PTECH program is designed to fill some of those spots with students enrolled in Idaho public schools.

“Ciara has a clear, well-thought out vision of what she’d like to do in life and she believes in her ability to achieve her dreams,” Wallace said.

Drake never thought a TV show would land her in the path she is in now.

“I have a drive and PTECH is giving me the opportunity to broaden my horizon,” Drake said.

Disclosure: Idaho Education News and Idaho PTECH are both funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation.