‘Non-traditional’ student Sobina thriving at WCCC

“If I’d known more about myself,” said Maxwell Sobina, of the Health and Medical Assistance program at the Warren County Career Center, “this would be my second year in the program.”

Sobina, a junior at Warren Area High School, is finishing up his first year in the health program after starting out at the Career Center in the building and construction program.

Sobina is considered a “non-traditional” student at the career center, as a male in what the state classifies as a female-dominated field.

One of the biggest challenges, said WCCC principal James Evers, is getting male students to enroll in what are often thought of as “female programs,” and vice versa.

At one point, said Evers, the culinary program at the WCCC was considered a “non-traditional” program, as the field of culinary arts was more populated by women. That has since changed, proving that programs are not just for boys or girls. And while it’s harder to get girls enrolled in programs like welding and autobody tech, it can be just as difficult to convince male students to enroll in the health program, he said.

Even when the student has had an interest in the health field since he can remember.

Sobina, whose mother and grandmother were both employed in a medical field, can remember looking at diagrams of body systems and being amazed that there was so much at work in the human body.

Sobina said that after his first year in building and construction at the WCCC, he remembers watching a crew working on a house over the summer and thinking that “these guys look like they’re in pain all the time. I mean they weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary,” said Sobina, “but watching them work so hard, I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do.”

It wasn’t a super easy decision to transfer into the health program, Sobina said. As a member of the football team, Sobina said that he gets a fair share of “nurse” jokes from the guys. But Sobina said it’s worth it.

And the program, said Evers, has brought out some of the best in Sobina.

“I’ve seen a very caring side of Max this year,” said Evers. “I’m really pleased with how he’s taken to the program. He’s a leader in the health program.”

By that, he means that Sobina’s natural personality is to be open and gregarious.

“He can take someone who’s new to the program and open them up,” said Evers. “It’s allowed him to grow into who he really is.”

“I love it,” said Sobina of the health program at the WCCC.

Sobina said that his preferred subjects are a mix of science and English classes. He said that while he struggled at first with vocabulary in the health program, his desire to be in the field compensated for the difficulty and “even just putting the smallest effort in, everything got easier” because of the fact that he enjoys what he’s doing.

And as far as “getting crap” from the guys about his choice in future professions, Sobina said, “you just have to laugh about it. I tell them, ‘you won’t be saying that when I see you in the hospital.'”

This year’s seniors are the first cohort that will all have gone through the full three-year program. It’s one of the most popular programs at the WCCC, said Evers, and so popular that an additional teacher is being added this fall to handle first-year students entering the program so that upperclassmen in the health program can devote their time to the clinical hours that the program boasts.

Students leaving the health program at the WCCC often do so with certifications in CNA, first aid, and other healthcare related skills. Much of what the program does, said Evers, is gives kids coming in the chance to see the different niches within the healthcare field and evaluate what exactly they’d like to do when they get out.

Sobina said that while he’s entertained thoughts of becoming everything from a physician to a shoulder surgeon, he’s thinking he’ll probably wind up a physician’s assistant, an RN, or an imaging specialist. He’s got another year in the program to explore all of those options and make some decisions, all while getting experience and knowledge under his belt.

To students considering going into the health program at the WCCC, or to any student considering a Career Center program that would make them a “non-traditional” student, Sobina said: “Don’t be afraid to follow your interest.”

Sobina, who’s in theater as well as football and now the health program at the Career Center, said that it’s all about being proud of what you’re interested in and going for it full force.

“Don’t let them make fun of you for what you like,” said Sobina.