“A lot of people are suffering due to poverty and natural disasters, and I think I could help them,” says Amulya Prabhala. “Many places around the world don’t have as many privileges as we do. In times of such disarray, I would like to be the person that helps them.”

Amulya has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. Now, in her senior year at Beaverton High School, her dream is forming into her future. She has applied to universities around the country and hopes to attend Portland State University or Oregon State University in the fall, where she will earn a bachelor’s degree. Medical school, she hopes, will follow.

Her choice has been reinforced in Beaverton High School’s Health Careers Program. In its two classrooms, reinvented to resemble hospital wings, hospital beds line the walls. Medical equipment fills shelves and drawers. A mannequin whose pulse can be taken lies tucked into one of the beds.

In addition to classroom learning about careers, first aid procedures, human anatomy and physiology, students do medical rotations in the community. Amulya’s favorite was the geriatric care unit, in which the class went to a nursing home to interview residents and take their vital signs.

“It was pretty eye-opening to see how life is like for certain people and how they are cared for,” she said. “Most people wouldn’t have this experience in high school – maybe not until college or medical school.”

The high school plans to expand the program, adding professions such as emergency medical technician, pharmacy tech and medical assistant.

“The reason I think it works so well is because it connects students with something they see in their future,” said Anne Erwin, Beaverton’s principal. “The skills they are learning – the professionalism, the soft skills – are tied directly to a genuine experience.”

What’s more, Erwin said, when the students do rotations, they know that “they carry the reputation of the Beaverton School District Health Careers Program with them wherever they go when they put on those purple scrubs and show up at a site.”

The program not only has enriched Amulya’s education it has also helped her learn whether her childhood dream is something she really wants to pursue.

“If I didn’t have this opportunity, I’d go through medical school and might decide I really don’t like this,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to know what we want to do before we spend so much time and money in college. It helps us decide where we want to go in the future.”