Monday, December 07, 2009

Future Physical Therapists

We took a group of students to Prairie View A & M a couple of Saturdays ago. I'd never met Jasmine before that Saturday. In fact, she hadn't been going to Teen U very long at that point. But she's a senior and she heard about a college trip. She immediately signed up. I mentioned her in a previous post.

She ended up sitting in the front seat of the van on the way back to keep me awake. As we talked, I found out she was interested in the medical field. She said she liked to help people. But the more we talked, I found out she had a lot of interests. I think "medical field" was something she was familiar with and sounded like a good field to enter, but it was more of a default career than something she knows for sure.

As I started asking more questions, I found out that she was thinking about physical therapy. What a perfect opportunity! I mentioned before that I had been taking different kids with me to my physical therapy appointments. So, I asked Jasmine if she'd like to go.

I didn't see Jasmine again until the appointment. She arrived at our meeting spot 30 minutes early. (the dedication of teenagers should really be noted more often!) Very characteristic of Jasmine, she was quiet on the way there...answering questions as I asked and trying to make polite conversation in return. I told her a little about what it would be like at physical therapy and encouraged her to ask them questions.

I can't quite tell what she's thinking because she's so quiet. As I did my exercises, I asked the therapy technicians some questions I knew Jasmine might be interested in. One lady there took a particular interest in Jasmine's ambitions and started giving her advice about P.T. schools.

At the very end, I noticed some sparks and new understandings. She had mentioned to me that physical therapy wasn't what she thought it was (ahhh! And that would be the whole purpose in exposing kids to a variety of options!). She had started asking different staff questions that helped her process her new knowledge.

At one point, she overheard them mention that my usual days are Monday and Thursday. She turned to me and asked, "You come again on Monday?" and somewhat shyly asked, "Are you going to invite me back?" ...to which I whole-heartedly agreed.

"There's so much I want to do," she explained to me on the way home.

I'm so glad that we have Teen U, the University of Texas-Dallas interns, and Digital Connectors to help the teenagers discover all of their possibilities and make educated decisions about what they want to do. I love thinking how great our future will be because of students like Jasmine.
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