In school and in life, success can be measured by opportunity, At Manual High School, students are given an opportunity to explore careers in healthcare.
"So, then I heard about the sports medicine class and I was like, I got to do it," Liyahnajah Pafford, senior said.
Pafford is part of The Med School within Manual High School. The program offers students a focused track to learn skills to go into fields ranging from pharmacy to phlebotomy to sports medicine. She is a basketball and volleyball player who needed knee surgery last year.
"Because of everything that I went through with my knee, I wanted to do something in the field," Pafford said. "So, I was like, hey, I have to do something that relates to it."
Neelah Ali teaches science within The Med School. She says these high school students are taught at a college level.
"They always rise to the occasion, like they actually like the challenge," Ali said. "They're exposed to internships. They're exposed to labs that like I didn't get to do until I was in college."
Through partnerships with Denver Health and Kaiser Permanente, students can work in real medical situations.
"Students have the opportunity to participate in rotations in the hospital that include everything from labor and delivery to emergency room, EMT," Elina Martinez, The Med School director, said.
Martinez says students can earn associates degrees in high school giving the skills and certification to start work immediately in the healthcare industry.
"The opportunity to have a skill, a marketable trade when you leave high school," Martinez said. "To be employable is important to our economy and it's important to the success of our students."
Manual High School has a long history in Denver with many local notable alumni since it opened in 1894. Over the past 12 years, the school has been met with instability with several resets and new programs unveiled on campus.
Martinez says this program will be different.
"I believe this can redefine Manual long-term," Martinez said.
Masiah Hudson is a senior interested in becoming an athletic trainer. He says The Med School is an invaluable experience.
"I think it's a great opportunity for students who want to go into this program to like get a feel on it before they go to college," Hudson said.
Ali believes this program is important to help steer more minorities and students from low-income families into medical careers.
"We're trying to flood the tech, the med industry, with more women, more people of color," Ali said. "That's another reason why it's so key that it's in this neighborhood."
Pafford says this is the type of opportunity that can changes lives like her own.
"Just to be able to have it here at Manual was like really cool," Pafford said. "I think it opens a lot of people's eyes."