High school student finds her career and passion for health care

As a high school junior, Ester Cuc Chamorro was encouraged by a teacher to apply to Norton Healthcare High School Academy. Find out how you can participate.

Ester Cuc Chamorro’s first experience working in a health care setting came in elementary school.

Ester attended Junior Achievement of Kentuckiana’s Biztown, where kids have the chance to participate in a simulated city and work “adult” jobs. Her role in the town was a doctor, and she had the opportunity to care for other kids who played patients. From this pivotal experience, Ester developed an interest in the medical world.

As a student at Valley High School, she participated in ROTC, cheerleading, dual-credit college classes and, as her interest in health care persisted, she was involved in the school’s biomedical sciences program.

Her biomedical sciences classes were preparing her for a career. During the same time, she gave birth to her daughter and learned to balance motherhood with a jam-packed schedule.

A teacher’s encouragement

Ester was in her junior year at Valley when a teacher, Jennifer Vermillion, encouraged her to apply to the Norton Healthcare High School Academy. Jennifer, in her 16th year teaching at Valley High School, knew Ester would be a great fit for the program, which provides hands-on health care experience.

“Ester is a very hardworking student, and I knew the program would be great for her,” Jennifer said. “She was already very involved with extracurriculars, but I knew this program could help her fulfill her dreams of going into the medical world.”

Ester submitted her application and interviewed for the program. She was accepted and placed at Norton Hospital as a patient care associate in the cardiovascular unit.

Her responsibilities included feeding patients, checking vital signs, helping move patients and keeping nurses informed about patients.

Learn more

For more information about Norton Healthcare High School Academy, reach out to Addie Hibbs.

A passion and a career

“I had a lot of stress from school and my extracurriculars, but coming to work and seeing patients improve always made me feel so good,” Ester said. “It meant a lot knowing I helped with their progress.”

Her passion for health care was confirmed.

Ester said she felt at home while working at Norton Hospital. She described her experience in the program as teaching her how to communicate her emotions, adapt to new situations and to always be kind.

Ester graduated from Valley High School in the spring of 2020 and completed the program. She is now a regular Norton Healthcare employee.

The High School Academy gives students visibility into a health care career and helps the hospital system develop a pipeline of future employees, according to  

Addie Hibbs, who oversees the program as senior career and college specialist in Norton Healthcare’s career development office.

“We want to show students what all is possible with a career in health care and give them career options,” Addie said. “This helps with workforce needs as well.”

Norton Healthcare High School Academy eligibility

Students must be ages 17 or older and enrolled in a health sciences academy pathway at a partnering school to be eligible.

There are three different job roles for program participants: lab processing, receptionist and patient care associate. Students are placed according to their interest.

These paid positions require 12 hours of work per week.

Ester may have achieved her childhood dreams by working in health care, but she isn’t finished. Ester has applied for the Norton Healthcare Scholars Program, which offers assistance to employees pursuing a degree in certain health care roles. She plans to attend Bellarmine University, where she’ll pursue a four-year degree with a double major in nursing and lab science.

“I just want to keep pushing forward,” Ester said. “For both me and my daughter.”

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