YouthWorks Puts Anita Pacheco on Educational/Career Path
Gaston College YouthWorks Puts Anita Pacheco on an Educational/Career Path
An opportunity with Gaston County Emergency Medical Services (GEMS) is preparing Ena “Anita” Pacheco, a student in the Gaston College EMS Associate Degree program, for a career as a paramedic. Pacheco is a participant in the Gaston College YouthWorks program, and the program administrators arranged for her to join GEMS as a logistics assistant.
YouthWorks is designed to help young people achieve their educational and employment goals. Pacheco, who is 19 years old, had dropped out of Hunter Huss High School and enrolled in the YouthWorks program after learning about it through the Nurse-Family Partnership, a maternal and early childhood health program that introduces first-time parents to caring maternal and child-health nurses. “I wanted to join YouthWorks because I did not want to give up on my education,” she said. “I needed to be an example for my daughter.” YouthWorks motivated her to enter the adult high school program at Gaston College and she received her diploma in 2015.
Pacheco began attending Gaston College in August 2016 and will graduate from the EMS Associate program in 2018. She is taking classes in addition to working with GEMS as part of the North Carolina Department of Labor Pre-Apprenticeship program. “I shared the dream of wanting to become a paramedic with the staff at YouthWorks and somehow they made the apprenticeship happen,” said Pacheco. “My time at GEMS is the best experience anyone could ask for. I have learned so much working with them and I have seen so much riding along on the ambulances.”
As a logistics assistant with GEMS, Pacheco restocks the equipment needed for their ambulances and fills oxygen tanks. She often rides with the logistics team on the rescue trucks and at least once a week she is assigned to a shift working in an ambulance.
“EMS is such a great career,” said Pacheco. “The Gaston College EMS Associate Degree program has been a wonderful gift and I’ve learned a great deal. I’m thankful to GEMS for giving me the opportunity to work and learn with them. I’m excited about being able to help people through a career in EMS, and I know that without the support and encouragement of YouthWorks, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
To give back to the Nurse-Family Partnership that helped her when she had her child and told her about the YouthWorks program, Pacheco participated in a “Chasing Second Chances Team Volunteer Night” event on September 19. The event, which was sponsored by the Joey Logano Foundation, was for the benefit of the Nurse-Family Partnership. Event volunteers assembled hundreds of gift bags to support at-need mothers and babies in the region.
“Anita is a remarkable and inspiring young woman,” said Phyllis Davis-Brown, WIOA Youth Coordinator at Gaston College. “She entered the YouthWorks program because she wanted guidance on the best ways to complete her education and pursue employment opportunities in a field that would be fulfilling to her. We were so happy to assist in connecting her with GEMS and supporting her in her academic and professional endeavors.” The Gaston College WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), YouthWorks program, is federally funded and offers a variety of supportive services to assist in-school, out-of-school, and at-risk youth, which include: educational assistance, occupational training, employability skills, work experience, career exploration, on-the-job training, post-secondary education, leadership development, employment and more. YouthWorks’ ultimate goal is to educate and prepare young adults for self-sufficiency in the world of work and life.
The Gaston College Department for EMS Education offers a paramedic AAS (Associate of Applied Science) track and a paramedic diploma track. The Emergency Medical Science curriculum provides individuals with the knowledge, skills, and attributes to provide advanced emergency medical care as a paramedic for critical and emergent patients who access the emergency medical system, and prepares graduates to enter the workforce. The EMS Emergency Medical Science-Paramedic program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. For more information about the EMS program, visit www.gaston.edu/public-safety/ems-paramedic/.