Planting seeds for the future of health care


Lauren Molenda

Senior Isabella Montemayor studies in her CNA class, which is being housed at MHS this year.

Lauren Molenda, Editor

Healthcare is one of the most valuable and ever growing industries in the world. Every day, medical professionals make groundbreaking discoveries and change the game of medicine in life saving ways. All of that starts with the foundation and basics of healthcare, which is taught and practiced through becoming a CNA.

Students interested in exploring medical careers have the opportunity to take a CNA course in high school, gaining valuable experience and certifications as a healthcare provider.

The CNA program was brought into Merrillville High School back in 2015, and has produced many successful students in its time. This year, CNA has added new modifications to benefit the quality of students’ education.

“In the past, we’ve partnered with businesses where students would be transported off campus and have to pay fees in order to get their CNA certifications,” Mr. Michael Knocke, Head of Career and Technical Education, said. “This is the first year that the CNA class will be two trimesters instead of one, and we’ll actually have training in our building, which gives our students more time in the classroom to get into the material.”

The class is split into two phases, the first being the book work, which prepares students for phase two: working hands on with patients in clinicals. Senior Isabella Montemayor is excited to get a taste of a career in the healthcare field.

“Before we start our clinicals we’re going through the basics of the course,” Montemayor said. “We’re trying to grasp what exactly healthcare entails for us and preparing to apply the things we learn in the book to real life scenarios.”

Montemayor believes that earning her CNA license will pave the way towards achieving her goal of becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner. Her desire to help others along with her own personal experiences have inspired her to work towards such a prestigious & honorable career.

“When I was born, I didn’t cry, my skin was green, and I was not in a good condition,” Montemayor said. “I want to be there for the parents who are going through the confusion and distress that dealing with medical issues in children presents, and to provide comfort and security for patients as they go through those difficult times.”

The course is taught by Mrs. Brandi Knocke and Mrs. Angelique Todd, both former nurses with years of experience in patient care as well as partnership with CNAs. This has allowed them to truly understand the roles of a CNA and how they integrate into the healthcare setting.

“The CNA is the foundation of healthcare, and the basis of daily tasks and life skills we can do without much effort, like brushing your teeth or combing your hair,” Mrs. Brandi Knocke said. “If you can meet someone when they’re at their most vulnerable state and help them feel better about themselves, you really see that no job is too little. No matter how far you decide to grow in your career, you will always have CNA to revert back to as the base of your practice.”

While working in the field was extremely rewarding, Knocke and Todd agree that they are making a greater impact by teaching the future students of medicine.

“I had worked the floor for about 10 years, and I honestly think that coming into a school setting and helping mold our future healthcare professionals was the ultimate way of giving back,” Mrs. Brandi Knocke said. “The healthcare field is already facing a shortage in staff, so if we can catch aspiring medical students while they’re young and introduce them to experiences in patient care, we can do our part in ensuring that healthcare continues to grow and move in the right direction.”

Knocke and Todd hope to make lasting impacts on their students, and consider themselves to be “the lucky ones” for having the privilege of being their teachers.

“I’m most excited to give my students hands-on experience in work and allow them to work with the material they will see in healthcare settings,” Todd said. “ I hope students walk away from this program with responsibility in their career choices and the accountability to hold themselves to high standards, whether they go into the medical field or not.”

Knocke and Todd can’t wait to see their students’ success and growth, and are anxious to see what the future holds for them.

“Essentially, we are planting seeds for the future of healthcare and giving back in a way I never would have thought possible as a nurse,” Todd said. “I am so honored to be a part of this program, and am glad to do my part in giving back and helping others find their way. ”