KCTC opens new doors for all types of students


Mary Holtgrieve

Juniors Mary Holtgrieve and Eliza Cool having fun in their nursing program.

Junior Mary Holtgrieve’s most vivid memory from the Kent Career Tech Center, or KCTC, is walking into a room and seeing cadavers. As morbid as this may sound, Mary wasn’t afraid—the purpose of these bodies was purely scientific and donated to help advance medical care.

While on the field trip to Grand Valley State University, Mary and her KCTC nursing class saw the less-pleasant side of the job. However, this is also the reality of the medical field, and that’s exactly what KCTC teaches: real-world career experience.

“Ever since I was pretty little, I’ve wanted to be a nurse and go into healthcare,” Mary said. “My neighbor did the program, and I went to check it out. I was like, ‘This is incredible.’ So, I signed up and I got it. That was really exciting.”

Mary had to go through an application process where she first had to tour the KCTC facility to assure herself that this was something she wanted to do. From there, she had to submit her grades, attendance, and top program choices.

Mary had to go through an abundance of hard work to get where she is today in her KCTC journey, but her entire passion came from a crucial moment in her life.

“My sister is about 10 years younger than me,” Mary said. “When she was born, the nurses were coming in and checking her vitals, and I was like, ‘I want to do that.’ I’ve always had a connection to kids and pediatric care. I’m a babysitter, and I love it. I want to help people. So, that’s what sparked the idea.”

I want to help people. So, that’s what sparked the idea.

— Mary Holtgrieve

KCTC helps give students a leg-up in their career path and get them started on the job track right away if that’s what they wish for. Junior Lydia DeWitt has found that her automotive technology program has propelled her toward her future job as an automotive engineer.

Saying that being an automotive engineer is a dream job for Lydia is no exaggeration—she has literally had dreams about working on other people’s cars. She sees many benefits to her choice of work, from social aspects to economic benefits.

“Guys like me more if I know cars,” Lydia said. “I can save money by working on my own car. Also, they’re cool and fast.”

While the job itself has many benefits, KCTC is a boost towards her work on cars. The time it takes to get to where she wants to be is significantly shortened through this program.

High school can often be hyper-focused on the college track for students, but this is not an option or want for everyone. Lydia may still attend college in the future, but if she attends the KCTC program, she does not need to in order to start working.

“If I do the program, I can get a job straight out of high school,” Lydia said. “[I can be] certified and legally work on cars right out of high school, so there’s no need for me to go to college if I don’t want to.”

Although KCTC is inviting and full of opportunities, it certainly is a step up from normal high school curricula. Junior Eliza Cool certainly felt this when she first made the decision to take an hour at KCTC during the school day.

Despite her concerns regarding the new environment, Eliza found herself immersed in her interests and on the right track ahead of the pack.

“Not many people at FHC do KCTC, so I was scared to start,” Eliza said. “But, it was definitely the best decision I could have made. They have so many different classes, and it’s a completely different environment than normal school. You get to start your career your junior year rather than waiting for college, which I think is very helpful.”

KCTC is not lacking in educational opportunities, but students have to put in hard work in order to reap the benefits that it provides. The work is very hands-on compared to traditional classrooms, so extra effort is necessary.

Fortunately, the activities are ever-engaging, and there are plenty of memorable experiences for all students at KCTC, especially for Eliza.

“I couldn’t pick just one [favorite] time,” Eliza said. “Every day has been so much fun, and I look forward to going every day.”