High school student learning the ropes at local fire station

Education 21st Century

Tara Hodges has been learning the ropes at the Soldier Township Fire Department in Topeka. 

She’s been able to try her hand at a number of different duties around the fire station. 

Hodges has always wanted to be a firefighter. It’s something that runs in her family. 

“My grandpa was a firefighter,” said Hodges. “I kind of grew up [at the fire station].”

Hodges is getting the opportunity to try out the career through the Seaman High School internship program. She is one of more than 60 students interning in businesses, government agencies and nonprofits throughout Topeka. 

The internship program gives students a chance to explore careers before they graduate. The interns are paired with mentors, who work to help them better understand the profession. 

Soldier Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Chad Lady is Hodges mentor. He said the internship program also helps him to look for possible people to recruit in the future. He said it also helps him share more about what firefighters do. 

“My opportunities are to take the kids under my wing, teach them a little bit about what we do, try and light a fire a little bit of fire underneath them so that they want to learn more about the profession,” said Lady. 

Hodges said the internship has reassured her that she wants to be a first responder. She said she plans to get her EMT certification soon and she said the experience she’s getting in high school has given her an advantage. 

“I feel like I’m going to be a step ahead of people,” said Hodges. “I’m already going and seeing calls and everything while everyone else that joins the EMT program might not be aware of what they’re going to see.”

Other students are interning at attorneys offices, health clinics and even a local television newsroom, according to internship coordinator, Gita Nobel. 

Senior Ethan Guzman is spending the semester as an intern at KSNT News. 

If you’re interested in being a career mentor, you reach out to Gita Noble by email at gnoble@usd345.com.

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