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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Saving a curdling white sauce used to be a staple of high school home economics.

But at Kinnick High School, said teacher Sharon Spears, the five juniors and seniors signed up for a new “family and consumer science” health careers class more likely will learn how to save lives.

After all, they’ll have some teachers who do that for a living — starting Wednesday with Capt. Mark Llewellyn, a neurologist and 7th Fleet surgeon, and Lt. Cmdr. Chris Mannion, a registered nurse who works with staff education.

Department of Defense Dependents Schools mandated the new approach, Spears said, in hopes of helping more students choose and prepare for health science careers. Mannion stepped in to help Spears connect Yokosuka’s health professionals with the class.

“Next week,” Mannion told the class, “we’re going to get some people here to do first aid. You’ll do that and get a certificate. The week after that, CPR. The week after that, we’re going to have an EMT come over.”

Others to talk to the class, he said, will include “nurses, pharmacists … a physical therapist, psychologist, dentist — also someone from the blood bank.

“This is going to be a wonderful opportunity for you to sit back, talk to these folks, see what they do and what it takes to get there.”

The students listened politely as Llewellyn gave a dynamic crash course in the 7th Fleet structure — including the medical resources of each ship — and on Navy acronyms.

But they mostly wanted to know why he chose medicine and how he likes it.

“What do you like most about your job?” asked Sharlene Caucivar, 16, daughter of Yokosuka Naval Hospital corpsman Denny Caucivar.

“I like the people I work with,” Llewellyn said. “Every job has its frustrations, but you’ve got to be able to wake up every morning and like what you’re doing, the people you’re working with.”

Of the work itself, he said, “I like most … sitting down face to face with another person and trying to help them. And intellectually, it’s challenging.” In medicine, he said, “You’ve got to keep learning.”

“What kind of a student were you in school?” asked Mannion, who told the students he used his experience as an Army medic to study nursing at the University of Central Florida.

“I was a modestly good high school student,” Llewellyn said. “I wasn’t top of the class but I had fun in high school and tried to learn at the same time … and I had a good group of friends” headed for college, who, he recalled, nudged him in that direction as well.

But although being a doctor “was one of the possibilities,” he said, “I wasn’t actually set on it.”

“Why did you want to join the Navy?” asked Alyssa Rocha, 16, whose mother is a registered nurse.

“I always liked the water,” Llewellyn said. “And I had a role model … a mentor … the commanding officer of my NROTC” in college.

Llewellyn had an ulterior motive to his visit: to drive home to the students that the class is an opportunity to start putting realistic shape and structure to their dreams for their future — and while doing that, to be limited only by their own inclinations.

The students should be using their high school time, he said, to “build a good foundation in basic academic skills — and to get a sense that you can do anything. … There’s a lot of opportunities — go for ’em.”

After Llewellyn left, small but significant indications surfaced that his words had been heard.

Samantha Hixson, 17, asked during the class about her career interests, had remained quietly noncommittal.

But afterward, the daughter of Chancellorsville Command Master Chief Gregory Hixson said softly, “I’ve been thinking, maybe, of being a vet.”


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