UNION COUNTY, N.C. -- Students in Union County are getting a head start on exploring future careers in the medical field.
Through a first of its kind partnership, Union County Public Schools and CarolinasHealthCare System opened the Health Sciences Academy at Monroe Middle School.
And young students are already dreaming big.
“I want to be an infectious disease doctor,” said 12-year-old student Ian Boeving.
“I want to be a nurse to help people cure diseases and stuff,” said Isaiah Kennedy, 11.
“Just to see the real world problem solving that's happening for these students. I wish I had that kind of experience when I was in middle school,” said Dr. Andrew Houlihan, UCPS Superintendent.
The school transformed classrooms into labs, decorated walls with diagrams of brains and neurons, and installed medical equipment, like skeletons.
“It's a good program because it helps us learn more about, like Spanish terms and neuroscience terms," Kennedy said. "It helps us learn about what the different fields in the medical can do and what we have a chance to do in our future."
Sixth graders are taking classes in neuroscience and learning medical terms in Spanish. The health sciences curriculum will continue through eighth grade, a trend that school administrators say they hope will continue through high school.
“A big vision for me would be when these students graduate from Monroe High School," Dr. Houlihan said. "We really want to transform the high school in the next few years to really focus on the healthcare industry but they could graduate possibly with a two-year associates degree."