While the new Downtown Market bustles with vendors peddling food and customers choosing meat and produce, Kent Career Tech Center students are hard at work on the facility’s second floor, preparing for careers in healthcare and culinary.
Establishments nearby — hospitals and research institutes dotting the Medical Mile and restaurants of all kinds — are where those careers could take shape. With the opening of the market, 435 Ionia Ave, NW, students are right in the middle of things, so to speak.
Both the specialized health program and award-winning Culinary/Hospitality Program are utilizing classrooms in the market to provide increased space and more opportunities, said Carolyn Blake, instructor in the Health Sciences Early College Academy (HSECA).
Juniors and seniors attending these programs come from all over the county, and the site improves access for many. “We wanted to be more accessible to all students in Kent ISD,” Blake said. “We are now very centrally located.”
Students will easily be able to visit area healthcare establishments to see professionals at work and further explore careers, she said.
Kent ISD is leasing classrooms and use of the expansive kitchen for the Culinary students, plus classrooms and lab spaces for those in Health.
Students Tina Phan and Alexis Martinez practiced putting on hospital gowns over their scrubs in their new classrooms recently.
Beginning their year in the HSECA ‘s Diagnostic Healthcare Professions Program, the students went over the basics of dress and hand washing in the new facility. They will soon learn to perform tasks like live blood draws and diagnostic testing using sonography and electrocardiography equipment.
Last year, the trio completed the Academy’s Therapeutic Healthcare Professions Program at Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming.
They said they are enjoying the new location. “There’s a lot more space so we can work at the same time and don’t have to share materials,” Alexis said.
Plus, opportunities for job shadowing are just around the corner, Blake said.
Health Sciences Early College Academy students are enrolled in Ferris State University, and complete a series of high school and college courses. Students graduate from high school with a college transcript and a clear path of study to pursue, from medical or nursing school, to degrees in medical research and a variety of therapies and technologies.
Down the hall, students in the Hospitality/Culinary Program cut carrots in the sparkling kitchen they are now using for the program. Instructor Lynne Sargent said a goal for students is to become interns for the Market’s businesses downstairs after they graduate.
At present, students are learning about travel and tourism, baking, culinary arts and dining room and short order cooking.
The Hospitality/Culinary Program, which has a main location at Kent Career Tech Center, is nationally certified by the American Culinary Association, earned the first Green Restaurant certification in Michigan and was just honored by the Michigan Department of Education with an Excellence in Practice Award. The program offers direct credit with Ferris State University.