JAG Senior Begins a Career Path in Biomedical Engineering

Hazel Raymond shares how her love for art led her to pursue biomedical science through CTE.
March 4, 2022

Art school was all Hazel Raymond had known before enrolling in public school as a freshman at West Point High School. She knew she had wanted to be an artist, but now she was faced with uncertainty about how a traditional education could help her continue on that path.

During her freshman year, a JAG coordinator introduced her to the JAG program. “I couldn’t exactly tell what the class was, but I knew that it would be good for me to be a part of,” Raymond said. 

Three years later, she is now a senior and the vice president of her JAG program. As a post-secondary and career readiness program, JAG supports students in reaching their potential personally, academically, and professionally. With a foundation of trauma-informed care, project-based learning, and employer engagement, students are given this unique opportunity of mentorship and access to numerous resources that set them up for success beyond their participation in the JAG program.

While enrolled in JAG, Raymond was given the time and resources to explore how she might make a living as an artist. During the pandemic, her perspective on art as a future career shifted towards a desire to blend her passion with science. 

“The beautiful thing about art is that it is subjective. You can really use it in any field. As an engineer, I can create this biological object to help make the world a better place. And as an artist, I love to be active in the community. So, it all goes together really.” 

It wasn’t long until she was introduced to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs at West-MEC by her JAG coordinator. Through CTE, she has earned a certificate in biomedical science and now she is pursuing biomedical engineering as a potential career path.

“We have these biomedical scientists making vaccines to help everyone. I wanted to do something scientific like that,” she said. “JAG has helped me get into West-MEC and earn a certificate for biomedical school. I want to become a biomedical engineer, and JAG has helped me chase that dream.”

JAG and CTE not only introduced Raymond to a new career path that built off her strength as an artist, but she also learned how to motivate herself to persevere in the face of obstacles. One of the perks of participating in a JAG program is hearing firsthand from employers how to embark on a career or post-secondary education path. 

“Having all those guest speakers come in and talk about their life, how they made it, what they did, and how they even got started gave us a lot of perspective,” she said. “I have a lot to take away and keep with me during the times where I just want to give up.”

Raymond’s growth in the JAG program didn’t stop there either. JAG coordinators challenge their students to set personal and professional goals and mentor them to achieve those. She was once presented the opportunity to speak in front of 200 people. 

“Public speaking was something I never thought that I was ever going to be good at,” she said. “But Mr. Klem saw something in me and threw me out there. And I did really well. I actually fell in love with that art.” 

Nearing the end of senior year, she is currently exploring her options for college. 

“I could go in any direction. I’m really thankful that I even have JAG to lead me to ‘Oh, you can create a list. You don’t have to just settle,’” she said. “I’m excited to see myself later in life, maybe graduating from university or just five years from now looking at all the work I put into my life – being glad that I made it that far.”

“JAG really is the reason I’m graduating today. I think that we all face obstacles, and I faced them at a young age. JAG rescued me from drowning waters and dried my wings. And now that I’m a senior graduating, I’m ready to fly off, leave the nest, and start a new world.”

Interested in learning more about the benefits of a CTE and JAG partnership on participants’ lives? Stay tuned for Bryan Cortez’s story of how both programs motivated him to pursue his passion for cars and land himself a job shadowing opportunity at a Toyota dealership in his community. 

Learn more about how you can bring JAG to your school HERE

Kaylee Craig
AZ Tax Credit Funds
(602) 216-9503 I info@jagaz.org
3320 W. Cheryl Dr., Suite B220 Phoenix, AZ 85051
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