By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 12, 2019
LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Future health professionals got 'hands on' Tuesday at Wiregrass Technical College.
Hundreds of high school and middle school students across South Georgia were invited to campus Tuesday for a STEM and Medical event. It was an opportunity to learn about and shadow some of the Allied Health programs offered at the Lowndes County campus, like nursing, surgical technology, medical assistance and dental hygiene.
Some students said it was an opportunity to learn which field could become a lifelong career.
"It definitely opened up my eyes as to what it would be like, realistically. It was really cool to experience," said Cook High School student Ashton Fulp. "I think that we're from a small school so we don't get a lot of experiences that we would have, like [Tuesday]. So I think it's really important for all of us that aren't really sure what we want to do."
Fulp is just one of the more than 500 high school students who visited campus Tuesday. She said she plans to go into the surgical technology field.
Along with other fields in the Allied Health program, school officials said student interest continues to grow. Now, the college could look for a new space to keep up.
Governor Brian Kemp has included a proposal in the FY2020 budget to build a new, nearly $30 million building to house these programs. Allied Health is currently in Berrien Hall. School officials said it's one of the older parts of campus with outdated infrastructure.
In a statement from Wiregrass, college officials said some of the programs offered in the Allied Health department are among the fastest growing industries in South Georgia.
"What we do is important, not only for the livelihood of students and their families, but the livelihood of our entire community and the health of our communities," said Dean of Allied Health Programs Jackie Spriggs.
With Wiregrass programs like 'duel enrollment' offered for high school students, college officials expect the growth to continue.
"I think there's always a need for more space, we have outgrown our space somewhat, we can make do because we have extended facilities that we can go to," Spriggs said. "I think that's always a need, and what we would love to happen is to outgrow this building completely, and a couple more."
The new facility is just part of the proposed budget, so nothing is set in stone. In a statement, college officials said, "Wiregrass Technical College is very grateful for the support we get from our legislators and from Governor Kemp."
The FY2020 budget begins July 1.