Lee County High School and Lee County Career and Technology Center host Career Panel

Lee County School District’s (LCSD) Career Fair panelists consisted of Bishopville natives Jasmine Arthur (nutritionist), Dr. Queetta Boyd (pharmacist), Dr. Jennifer Evans (chiropractor), Yolonda Hart (occupational therapist), Belinda Hooks (family nurse practitioner), Tamesha McKnight (registered nurse), Kemdeodra L. Mickel (Certified Pharmacy Technician) and Courtney Palmer (Critical Care Registered Nurse).

From Chiropractic medicine, nutrition and occupational therapy to pharmacology and nursing, students were exposed to a gamut of professions in the medical field recently. The goal –  to encourage the students of Lee Central High School (LCHS) and Lee Central Career and Technology Center (CATE) to pursue their dreams, no matter the obstacles.

When Hart wasn’t accepted into the occupational health program on the first try and was waitlisted the second time, she refused to give up.

Her response to a student who asked how she handled being told no, Hart said, “I felt defeated, because I knew I had the credentials. You should never take no because a lot of times you’re just as deserving. Giving up is not an option.”

Poverty can serve as a rational excuse to quit say panelists who hail from a city where the average annual income is $22,000, about $28,000 below the state average and below the poverty line in South Carolina. Panelists assert that poverty can also serve as motivation to get out. 

Evans readily admits that before becoming one, she didn’t even know what a chiropractor was.

“…and I never knew a chiropractor until I got to college,” she adds.

Though her initial motivation for practicing was money, Evans says as she saw and learned more about the profession, her outlook changed.

“I fell in love with the nurses’ relationships with the patients,” says Evans. “I had to make the decision to chase the dollar or chase the passion.”

She and the others all overcame financial, cultural and various other obstacles to follow after their desires. In doing so, the money came, says Evans.

So deep ran those passions that McKnight earned an award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for an essay she wrote on the nursing profession when she first entered.

In the essay McKnight wrote, “Ever since I was young girl, maybe between ages 13-15, I watched the ladies who would come into the room when I went to the doctor. From those days until now, I’ve never seen another individual, in any profession, who showed so much interest in another human being.  

It is my experience and belief that a nurse should embody various traits, and of those dedication to health and wellness, compassion and service to man are at the very core.”

She closed the essay with a mantra that seemed to depict each of the panelists at the Career Fair, that the medical profession “is a job of service and I want nothing more than to be a servant.”

(L-R): Dr. Wanda Andrews, LCSD superintendent; Mickel; McKnight; Boyd; Evans; Tonya Porter, director of CATE; Arthur; and Palmer. Not pictured: Hart and Hooks-Pickett