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High school students helping in nursing homes on pandemic's front line

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Posted at 11:08 AM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 11:08:04-04

MONTEZUMA — They started the school year as students, but now a group of high school seniors is helping on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's an introduction to the medical field that these students could have never expected, and at 17 and 18 years old they are helping patients through this difficult period.

Morgan Adams, a senior at South Vermillion High School is one of the 10 students from the Wabash River Technical Education Center who is now working as a certified nursing assistant, a program they completed earlier in the school year. While their classmates are taking it easy second semester and completing schoolwork at home, the seniors are working long hours in nursing homes across western Indiana.

"At the beginning I was like, 'Well, this isn't fair. They are sleeping in,' but then I thought about it and I'm going there for a reason and helping out anyway that I can, and it makes me feel better and like I accomplished something," Adams said.

Jennifer Uselman, a health careers instructor at the Wabash River Technical Education Center, said she has seen her students mature overnight while doing their part in the pandemic.

"I'm extremely proud of them," Uselman said. "They don't really talk about how its stressful on them. They talk about how it's stressful on the residents they are taking care of."

Like all seniors, Adams missed her prom and she missed a graduation ceremony where she would have walked the stage as a valedictorian, but she said the experience she gained working in the medical field during this time is irreplaceable.

"I think it's making me more prepared," Adams said.

Uselman said most of her students, including Adams, plan to go on to nursing school. Since the pandemic began, more students have signed up for her health careers courses to work towards CNA certifications.

"And I said if you can do this and get through this and get through this kind of crisis at your age, I think you're going to make it in the healthcare field," Uselman said.