Working for the weekend |

Working for the weekend

Student explores career options through class

Christina M. Currie

Cricket DeWall became a dental hygienist in part because of the experience she got working in a dentist’s office while in high school.

Now, she’s helping 18-year-old Caitlin Rudd to get the same experience.

Rudd signed up for Moffat County High School’s independent study class to see whether a career in health care is something she wants.

Nearly nine weeks later, there’s no doubt in her mind.

“I love it,” she said. “Some–thing about it fits for me.”

Rudd wasn’t required to show up for her independent study class during the school’s holiday break, but she did anyway.

“It’s fun to go,” she said. “It’s more experience that I’ll get and more things I get to learn.”

The semester-long class gives students an opportunity to find out whether they’re suited for a particular profession before they spend thousands of dollars on college, high school counselor Carroll Moore said.

“For the most part, the experience confirms what they thought,” she said. “A few have said they learned they never, ever want to do this job.”

The course is an elective offered only to seniors. Those students interested have to explain why and make their arrangements with an employer.

Twelve students enrolled in the off-site study program, and about 20 did their independent study on-site with teachers in the first semester.

Students have worked with nurses, veterinarians, ministers, doctors, interior designers and physical therapists. One student, who had already enlisted in the Army, spent his independent study alongside an Army recruiter.

“I’m sure there are lots of opportunities out there that I haven’t thought of,” Moore said. “But most students already have an idea of what they want to do.”

Students are graded by their supervisor and class adviser.

DeWall said she’s willing to mentor another student through the high school’s program.

“How do they know what they want to do until they experience it?” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for them.”

Rudd graduates in January and plans to enroll in the Community College of Denver this fall, where she’ll work to earn her associate’s degree in dental hygiene. Her time with DeWall contributed to her decision.

“It was a good experience that can’t be replaced,” she said.

Rudd said she originally considered becoming a nurse, but didn’t like the idea of sticking people with needles. She’s since learned that dental hygienists give injections, too. But, she said she discovered that she loves too much about the job to let that stand in her way.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or

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