Experts in different vocations give insight for Oakland Education Center students

Published 7:02 am Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Oakland Education Center students were treated to a presentation by experts in different career fields and learned more about the options available to them after high school, according to Becky Gerdes, instructional coach at Oakland Education Center.

By doing so, the students are exposed to additional career stories that might jumpstart their planning for the future.

“The Oakland Education Center in Austin is looking for business people to come in and share their career stories with students who are exploring career options as part of a work skills career class,” Gerdes said. “Many dates are available.”

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Ben Dolan, a Gold Cross paramedic, brought an ambulance down for the first group of students to showcase the different equipment and medications an EMT or a paramedic would need to familiarize if responding to an emergency. By the second class, the ambulance was gone due to a call for service —  indicating the high call volume to which Gold Cross crews must respond.

“All our ambulances are out responding right now,” Dolan said. “As soon as you get the call, you go.”

Dolan touched on the shortage of paramedics and EMTs within the growing job market of emergency medical services. Some of those issues included the high expense of going to school for five semesters, potentially lower pay, as well as the hours.

To become a paramedic, a candidate must attend an additional two years of school, while EMTs can attend classes for about three months before taking a certification test.

There’s also the emotional toll of helping individuals who may not necessarily pull through in a crisis situation.

However, Dolan emphasized that if a student was interested in helping people, then first becoming an EMT may be for them. Originally, Dolan served as a teacher at Gerard Academy before becoming an EMT, and then a paramedic. He had wanted to find a career field where he could help people and managed to find another way to do so.

“I used to be a teacher,” he said. “I took a class in the summer and became an EMT and then eventually a paramedic … if you care about people, it’s a good job to have … it’s gratifying to be able to immediately help them.”

Austin Bright, a freshman, stated he was interested in what Dolan’s career field would be like, adding he may potentially consider the option.

“Maybe,” Bright said. “I’m interested in learning about EMT work.”

Interested in helping?

Oakland Education Center is located at 2001 2nd Ave. NW in the old Corcoran Center behind St. Edward’s Catholic Church and is looking for professionals willing to share their career experiences with students. If interested, contact Becky Gerdes, Austin-Albert Lea Special Education Co-Op instructional coach/coordinator at or call 507-305-2600.