Dover High student gets jump on medical future

DOVER — Like most high school students about to enter their junior years, Olivia Parsons has a pretty good feeling about where her future path lies, but also knows there can be detours along the way.

Just two years ago, she was set to pursue a career in early childhood education. However, she quickly found out that teaching wasn’t her true calling.

Now the 16-year-old Dover High School student is taking advanced placement courses in hopes of launching a career in pediatric oncology.

Olivia will get a chance to dive head first into her passion for medicine when she attends the National Youth Leadership Forum: Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina July 23-31.

“I want to go more towards pediatric oncology,” she said.

“I feel like that’s my calling. I’ve always been really good with kids and children have always loved me and I just love

Olivia Parsons, 16, soon to be a junior at Dover High School, will attend the National Youth Leadership Forum: Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina July 23-31. Olivia, who hopes to become a pediatric oncologist, will be introduced to emerging issues in  the medical field as well as visiting top medical schools and clinical facilities. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Olivia Parsons, 16, soon to be a junior at Dover High School, will attend the National Youth Leadership Forum: Medicine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina July 23-31. Olivia, who hopes to become a pediatric oncologist, will be introduced to emerging issues in the medical field as well as visiting top medical schools and clinical facilities. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

the science behind cancer, it’s so open and broad.

“As a freshman, I had early childhood education [as my career path] and teaching children was not my thing, but working with them I feel like will be different.”

Olivia should gain plenty of experience at her upcoming Youth Leadership Forum.

Throughout the nine-day program, she will be introduced to emerging issues in public health, medical ethics, research and general practice. She will also make site visits to top medical schools and clinical facilities that will expose her to the real world of medicine.

“The program provides an important behind-the-scenes perspective on medical careers,” said Dr. Jan A. Sikorsky, the vice president of education for NYLF: Medicine.

“This is a critical time for high school students to begin exploring their career paths, just prior to immersing themselves in college coursework.”

When Roxanne Parsons, Olivia’s mother, thinks back, she said she should have seen this coming a long time ago.

“When she was around 4 years old, she would actually set her bedroom up as a triage area and we had to be the patients,” she said.

“Olivia’s excited. This is going to be her first time away from home for that extended period of time and I know she’s getting a little bit nervous and anxious about it, as are we, but we know she’s going to be in good hands.”

The funny thing is, the Parsons do not know who made the nomination for Olivia to attend the leadership forum, which is part of the Envision family of programs.

“Honestly we don’t know how I was nominated,” Olivia said. “I just got an email one day that just said, ‘You have been nominated to attend this.’ I’m guessing that it was just because I maintain honor roll.”

She is routinely on Dover High’s honor roll and has a 3.5 grade-point average while taking advanced placement courses. She also has been involved with the Delaware State Troopers Explorers Program and loves to volunteer and work with children in the community.

For a long time, Olivia believed she would end up in a career of law enforcement, but a CNA class that she took earlier this year changed her mind.

“This year I went into Certified Nursing Assistant [career path] and the teacher was very open because I was the only one in the class that wanted to go into law enforcement,” she said.

“So she was like, ‘Why are you here?’ and I said, ‘I just want to see what it’s going to be like and if it’s going to change my mind.’

“And she changed my mind. She helped me realize that law enforcement is not really my calling … my calling is really to help patients and others.”

Olivia Parsons takes time to study at the Kent County Recreation Center in Dover where her mother, Roxanne, works. Olivia is routinely on Dover High’s honor roll and has a 3.5 grade-point average while taking advanced placement courses.

Olivia Parsons takes time to study at the Kent County Recreation Center in Dover where her mother, Roxanne, works. Olivia is routinely on Dover High’s honor roll and has a 3.5 grade-point average while taking advanced placement courses.

Olivia grew up immersing herself in TV programs such as “ER” and “Emergency,” so now it appears to all be coming together.

She will get to view a knee surgery up close and personal on her trip to North Carolina in which she can interact with the doctor during the procedure.

She thinks she’s prepared for it. And so does her mother.

Ms. Parsons said she has seen a more-driven daughter since she set her mind on taking CNA courses. If Olivia takes everything that’s required by the time she finishes her senior year, she will actually be a Certified Nursing Assistant heading into college.

“Once [Olivia] got into the medical aspect of it, she decided that she really liked it and that her new vision was going to be more into the medical background,” Ms. Parsons said.

“She’s also a part of the Delaware State Troopers Explorers Program. So she was kind of thinking maybe she would do a combination of maybe medical and forensics, or something like that. Maybe tie medical and law enforcement together. But now, I don’t know. It seems like she may be taking a totally different path all together.”

Olivia believes that the medical field is her calling, but as she knows, things can change.

Although she really doesn’t expect them to anymore as she chases her goal of being a part of the fight against childhood cancer, beginning with a nine-day trip to North Carolina.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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