As the end of the school year approaches, area students will soon begin to implement their plans for life as an adult. While not all students are prepared for the rapidly approaching reality that faces them, some have spent their final years in high school preparing for their future.
One such group donned surgical gowns, face masks and goggles Friday to demonstrate their proficiency in human anatomy while being inundated by the unmistakable aroma of formaldehyde.
Their subject on Friday, a pig fetus, chosen because of its internal similarities with humans, gives students the chance to put into practice what they’ve learned throughout the school year.
“Actually holding the anatomical parts in your hands and observing them in three dimensional form is what brings what you read in the textbooks and see in diagrams to life,” Becky Lyle, Southern Tech instructor, said.
Other dissection projects this semester included a cow heart and a sheep brain and kidney.
“It’s important that they understand anatomy and physiology so they can better understand their patients,” Lyle said.
Southern Tech Marketing Coordinator Darla Buck said the school’s nursing program usually has about 80 students enrolled at any given time.
Friday afternoon, a dozen students dressed for dissection hunched over their subjects, concentrating on removing and identifying specific internal organs, labeling and organizing them near their workspace
 “I think it’s a lot better than just reading it out of the book,” Miranda Fuentes, Springer, said. “It helps us actually know what it is and where it is.”
After graduation, Fuentes plans to attend college and pursue a career in nursing.
“I think it’s more realistic because it’s real life and you get to be hands-on, actually hold the kidney and liver, ” Abby Chopa, Take 2, said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s nasty, but it’s cool.”
Chopa said she plans to enlist in the United States Navy and hopes and plans to attend medical school.
Buck said the nursing programs at Southern Tech offer an introduction to medicine, allowing students to take their first steps in the field to determine if it suits their future goals, though not all see the rigors of the field as an option they want to purse.
“Sometimes they will be in here and they will decide that this is not what they want to do,” Buck said. “So they don’t end up wasting all that money in college to figure out that this isn’t something they wanted to do.”
Buck said most students that go through the program have an altogether more positive experience, often one that ends with an offer of employment.
“A lot of times they will even get a job offer during the summer to stay where they are after they finish their clinical,” Buck said.
The clinicals offer an internship type of experience where students split their time between the classroom and on-the-job training, spending most of their time on the job.
Buck said a number of area medical professionals got their start at Southern Tech, some sought concurrent enrollment at the University Center of Southern Oklahoma before going on to further their education at other institutions, only to return to Southern Oklahoma to contribute to future generations.
Southern Tech’s programs are free to all in-district high school students, while older students can apply for scholarships and other aid options to attend.
 “There aren’t very many adult students that pay out of pocket,” Buck said.
Some programs have partnerships with local businesses that help in covering cost while providing workforce placement for those that graduate.
“The businesses in this area have been absolutely wonderful working with us,” Buck said.