• Fast Lane to Med School

    Garner High School Graduate Racheal Dinka standing in front of an ambulance

    STUDENT: Racheal Dinka

    SCHOOL: Garner Magnet High School

    COLLEGE: University of North Carolina at Wilmington

    June 15, 2018

    Racheal Dinka has never been the type of person to shy away from a challenge. At the end of her freshman year at Garner Magnet High School, she took a career aptitude test, which indicated she might be a good fit for law enforcement. That led Racheal’s school counselor to tell her about the school’s Public Safety Academy.

    Racheal wasn’t interested in law enforcement, but was still excited to hear about the Public Safety Academy.

    “I always wanted to go into the medical field, but I never considered public safety,” Racheal said.

    She was thrilled about the opportunity to take Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) courses and get a jump start on her medical career.

    “I don’t want to go into a field as competitive as medicine and not know anything about it,” she said.

    Public Safety Academy

    In the Public Safety Academy, Racheal started taking public safety and EMT courses her sophomore year, culminating with the completion of the NC EMT Basic Course, which prepares students and allows them to take the state test to become a credentialed EMT.

    “Being in this Public Safety Academy gave me a purpose for being in school,” Racheal said. “I didn’t do sports, but I did this. I love helping people and working in the community. I feel better prepared to pursue a career in medicine because I now have an advantage over other high school students.”

    During Racheal’s junior year, her resolve to study medicine strengthened when her Dad was diagnosed with cancer for a second time. Racheal was particularly interested in her father’s treatments and helped with his care. Fortunately, her Dad is now, once again, cancer-free.

    “I really do enjoy being in hospitals,” she said. “It sounds weird, but I do. It makes me feel very relaxed and at home. It makes me happy. I get excited about being able to help people.”

    Garner High School Graduate Racheal Dinka talking into a radio inside an ambulance

    Real-World Experience

    To graduate from the Public Safety Academy, students are required to complete 135 hours of job shadowing or internships. Over five months, Racheal worked with Johnston County EMS, Clayton Fire Department, Citizen Corps through the State Medical Assistance Team, and Carolina Trucking Academy.

    “I got to experience the stress of working in an ambulance and working with patients - some of them difficult,” she said. “It gave me a lot of exposure to people in general, taught me how to succeed in any career. It showed me the importance of skills like listening, effective communication, customer service, organization, being punctual, and taking care of paperwork.” 

    Racheal will be attending the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in the fall to study biology and then plans to attend medical school.

    “I know I’ll have to prove myself,” she said. “I’m ready.”

    Garner High School Graduate Racheal Dinka standing in front of an ambulance