Erie 2 BOCES health services students attend Career Fair

There are more than 3.5 million registered nurses and licensed practical nurses in the United States, and it is a career field that is rapidly growing. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, growth for registered nurses is projected at 19 percent, significantly higher than many other job areas. In fact, New York State is expecting a job growth rate of nearly 24 percent in the next five years.

Students in the Health Services program at the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES (E2CCB) Hewes and LoGuidice Educational Centers in Ashville and Fredonia, respectively, are getting a head start on pursuing their careers in health care. The two-year program for high school juniors and seniors combines rigorous classroom study along with hands-on activities that prepare them to obtain a Certified Nursing Assistant certification before they graduate. In addition, a four-week internship is incorporated into their training in the spring of their senior year to give them real world experience before completing the program.

But the Hewes and LoGuidice Centers go one step further in opening up students’ eyes to the possibilities that await them after school. Recently, the two schools teamed up to host a health services career fair at the Hewes Center where students from all over Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties got to meet with local agencies and professionals in the health careers field in person.

Following a program of speakers and a question and answer period, students met with several local organizations to explore how they will begin their careers and what lies ahead for them be it moving directly into the field or continuing their education.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to see what’s out there waiting for them,” said Hewes Center Health Services Instructor MaryLou Chimenti. “The work they are doing here on a day-to-day basis is preparing them for the next step in their lives. Some will go on to colleges for further study, and others will choose to join the workforce immediately so meeting with these organizations is the next logical step in their career.”

One student exploring her options was Cheyenne Miller from Jamestown.

“I’d like to go on to college and become a nurse, and I want to stay and work in this area,” she said. “I’m from here, and I want to give back to my community by helping people as a nurse.”

On hand to meet with the students were representatives from the E2CCB Licensed Practical Nurse Program, the Cassadaga Job Corps Licensed Practical Nursing Program, the Heritage Group, The Tanglewood Group, Hultquist Place, Aspire and the WCA Home.

“Career fairs like this are a great opportunity for both our program and the students in the health services class,” said E2CCB Licensed Practical Nurse Instructor Amanda Merchant. “We get to explain to them how our program works and what is available to them, and they get a healthy amount of information to make decisions on what’s best for their future. It’s a win-win situation, and we are happy to be a part of it.”

The students at both centers will be busy for the rest of the year as the juniors continue to learn more in the classroom, and the seniors put their skills and knowledge on display at their internship sites.

“The school year is moving fast,” added Chimenti. “We’re proud of what our students have accomplished so far, but there’s always more to learn, and it makes for extremely packed days of book study and lab work. The good thing is, for these kids, it’s a labor of love.”

The Hewes Center and LoGuidice Centers offers 12 and 10 two-year CTE programs, respectively. They allow high school juniors and seniors to gain experience and technical knowledge in highly specialized fields while earning a Regents Diploma. Students who complete program requirements receive a Technical Endorsement on their diplomas and are prepared to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation or pursue more advanced levels of study at post-secondary educational institutions.

For more information on Career and Technical Education programs offered at Erie 2 BOCES, visit: