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Jonesboro student volunteers time, gains experience

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

Jasmine Lowe, a 17-year-old rising senior at Mundys' Mill High School in Jonesboro, is getting an early start toward the goal of a career in the health-care field.

For three years, she has participated in the Grady Health System Summer Teen Volunteer Program held at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, according to Brooke Eldridge, volunteer coordinator for the hospital.

"She's a joy. She always comes in with a smile on her face, [asking] 'What can I do? How can I help?'" said Eldridge. "She [also] comes when she has school holidays, and volunteers her time at that time," Eldridge said.

"I either want to be an obstetrician or an orthodontist," said Lowe. "I know that the health-care field is in high demand."

According to Eldridge, Lowe is one of 270 metro Atlanta students, ages 14 to 17, selected this year for the volunteer program, based on academic performance and recommendations from their school principals or school counselors.

Many of the volunteers have the goal of pursuing careers in the health-care field, Eldridge said. "It's basically the same thing as being a candystriper," said Eldridge. "[However,] kids may get a little more experience these days," she added.

"It's been great. I'm learning a lot about how to communicate, not only with my co-workers, but patients," said Lowe.

"I learned how the office setting works, and how to deal with different personalities. I do regular clerical tasks, marking off patients and getting their packets ready for them to be checked in, running errands, answering and transferring phone calls. I also file paperwork," she said.

"She will definitely go far in life," said Eldridge. "She has had the goal of going into some sort of medical field since day one, so she will definitely achieve that."

The program more than doubled the number of students involved this year, compared to recent years, according to Eldridge.

"I was told by a lot of kids that the City of Atlanta used to fund camps for kids, and that funding was cut, so a lot of them had to branch out and look for other opportunities to volunteer this summer," Eldridge said.

Applications for the summer program are posted on the hospital's web site in January of each year. Applications are due each April, Eldridge said. For more information, visit www.gradyhealthsystem.org.