Humboldt County Office of Education: Summer Exploration Programs Provide Students with Career & College Skills

Summer Exploration Programs Provide Students with Career & College Skills

Summer Exploration Programs Provide Students with Career & College Skills


HCOE, in partnership with College of the Redwoods (CR), local healthcare facilities, and local business partners is once again presenting two accelerated summer institute programs for high school students.

Eureka – Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE), in partnership with College of the Redwoods (CR), local healthcare facilities, and local business partners is once again presenting two accelerated summer institute programs for Humboldt County high school students.

Health-Career Exploration Summer Institute (HESI)

The Health-Career Exploration Summer Institute (HESI) program marks its sixth year providing students with a summer intensive exploration in the field of healthcare.  Biology and community health teacher, Sara Dixon, has been the HESI instructor since inception and with the expansion of this year’s program. Alicia Mengel teaches college-prep biology, geoscience and biology and community health, has been added as an additional instructor to the popular program.

Sara Dixon is currently a biology, anatomy, AP biology and community health teacher at Fortuna High School and has been teaching science for 24 years. In her ninth year at Eureka High School, Alicia Mengel teaches college-prep biology, geoscience and biology & community health.

“The HESI program provides a unique opportunity to work with high school students that is different from the day-to-day classroom environment,” said Dixon. “These students have a vested interest in healthcare, they want to pursue a career where they can help others and give back to their communities.”

This year students will spend 8 days observing in 5 different healthcare facilities: Providence St. Joseph Hospital, Providence Redwood Memorial Hospital, Open Door Community Health Centers: Eureka Community Health & Wellness Center, Burre Dental Center, and Redwood Community Health Center, Family Medicine & Pregnancy Services. The student spends each day in a different department and/or location.  They are paired up with a preceptor and observe whatever comes their way that day.

“My collaboration with industry partners through HESI also helps students to understand our local healthcare crisis; not enough healthcare professionals’ practice here to support our population,” Dixon emphasized. “Most importantly, our partners give my students experiences and practical insight that they would not have if this program and partnerships were not in place.”

TESI students talking to one of our partners.
TESI students working on a computer

Technology Exploration Summer Institute program (TESI)

Technology Exploration Summer Institute program (TESI) is in its second year with HCOE. TESI’s program is designed for students wanting to explore career fields in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Instructor Clay McGlaughlin (College of the Redwoods) returns again this year offering career exploration in ICT for TESI 1 students and, Aletta Sauer (retired Eureka High Programming and Engineering Teacher) TESI 2 Instructor, will present material for returning 2022 students.

“TESI offers a deeper dive into STEM topics than what typical high school classrooms could normally accomplish,” said Sauer. “Students gain access to instruction that would otherwise be offered only through concurrent enrollment for the CR online classes. During the summer, students get to explore high paying careers that they could pursue here in Humboldt county – keeping local talent local!”

Students participating in TESI 1 will be introduced to the six main domains of ICT. Returning TESI 2 students are being provided with the tools to expand their knowledge and the opportunity for self-directed learning, with a focus on artificial intelligence, under the guidance of their instructor.

This year will be the first year that the program has expanded for students who want to take a second year. TESI 2 students will assemble and operate a smart camera using the Google AIY Vision kit — this project would not be possible for classroom-size groups without more support than most schools could offer. In addition, students attending can also receive up to one unit of college credit, all at no fee or tuition cost in attending.

“Having a Summer Institute like TESI is important because it provides students with an intensive learning experience that can dramatically increase their proficiency with technology in a relatively brief amount of time,” said McGlaughlin. “As the role of technology in modern society increases year-by-year, these skills will continue to be in high-demand and will provide them with excellent opportunities for great careers and life-long learning.”

McGlaughlin added that his favorite part about teaching high school students is having the chance to offer the advice and suggestions and encouragement that he would give himself if he could go back in time to that age again. “I think many students don’t realize how much their teachers, counselors and advisors want to help them to succeed and excel in life, so I enjoy being able to help shape their futures in some small degree by encouraging them to pursue the opportunities that are available to them now that may not always be there by the time they reach adulthood.”

The partnership between HCOE and College of the Redwoods (CR) is tremendously valuable for the students since it provides access to state-of-the-art computer labs with high-end equipment and professional-level training materials. CR offers an excellent variety of certifications, degrees and career-training programs that students can explore as they decide on the paths they would like to take in the future, and the partnership with HCOE opens up a wealth of resources available through the County that students might otherwise not even know existed.

More information on the HESI and TESI programs are available by calling Ann Marie Rocha, HCOE Program & Event Coordinator, at or (707) 496-5009.

Program Director

Tanya Trump
Director, Career & College Resources

Trades Academy

Jack Sheppard
Program Manager - CTE


Megan Freitas
Work Based Learning Specialist

Internship Coordinator