First graduates in Pace's Academy of Health Sciences

Monday, February 16, 2015 0 Comments

First graduates in Pace's Academy of Health Sciences


In a classroom at Monsignor Pace High School, seven Pace seniors are curiously out of uniform, instead clad in black polos from Barry University. These seven students are a part of Pace’s EMT Academy class, but they are also officially registered as college EMT students with Barry University, complete with Barry student IDs and Barry instructors teaching the class.

The EMT Academy class is the final part of Pace High’s four-year Academy of Health Sciences, one of the school’s many Signature Academies that offer students the opportunity to take classes geared towards their individual interests and goals.

By going through the Academy of Health Sciences, students can have the opportunity to land a job as an EMT right out of high school and get an early start to further education in medical school and other fields in health sciences.

The EMT Academy class has been taught mainly by Jorge Nuñez, an EMS instructor from Barry University and Lieutenant with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, with visits from other Barry personnel. When Nuñez is on shift, the class is taught by Cliff Ricketts, a Barry University instructor and Pace Class of 1999 alumnus who also works as a Lieutenant with Miramar Fire-Rescue.

Classes for Academy of Health Sciences began in the 2012-2013 school year with the new freshmen beginning their time at Pace on this academic track. These seven students, however, were also interested in joining the academy and this took multiple classes per year to meet the standards set by the academy. 

They are called the “Magnificent Seven” by the Academy’s lead teacher Kevin Lagrange, and are the first group of students to be graduating out of the EMT Academy class. Lagrange has been the students’ teacher in the Academy for all three years and now acts as a liaison for their EMT Academy class.

According to Lagrange, the seven students became more aware of the reality of their status as college students and future emergency responders when they visited Barry University earlier in the year to get their IDs and met with Jason Smith, the EMS Program Director and a Fire Captain with Broward Sheriff’s Office Fire Rescue.

“We are molding a different type of student,” said Lagrange. He added that even if students do not want to pursue a career as an EMT, there are no drawbacks to the Academy. Students in the Academy learn different aspects of the medical field and can earn a head start when entering medical school, as opposed to other medical school applicants who enter with no experience.

All juniors in the program become certified in AED and Adult CPR through the American Heart Association, and seniors become certified in BLS (Basic Life Support) for Infants, Children, and Adults. At the end of the academy, students can sit for the National Registry of EMT exam and earn their EMT Certification and License.

"I've always wanted to help people," said Danielle Dalge, a Pace senior and one of the "Magnificent Seven" who plans to go on to medical school after graduating from Pace to pursue either pharmacy or working as a nurse practitioner. 

Later this semester, the students will start doing hospital visits at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston on the weekend and ride along with several agencies on emergency calls.  “We’re giving them the real world very early,” said Lagrange. The class will end with a megacode exam conducted by Barry University EMS Medical Director Joe Nelson, D.O.

Juanesha Serra, also a Pace senior and part of the “Magnificent Seven,” finds that what makes the EMT Academy unique from her other classes is that it is hands-on and that students work with real people as well as learning skills. “You’re actually going to be saving people,” said Serra, who plans on studying nursing at Barry University while working as an EMT.

To learn more about Pace High’s Signature Academies, visit or call 305-623-7223.

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