“Outstanding Vocational Technical Student” studies health occupations and plans to be a trauma surgeon

Senior Briana Jackson has been named the most promising vocational technical student at Whittier Tech earning the title “Outstanding Vocational Technical Student.”

She was celebrated at an awards dinner at the historic Mechanics Hall in Worcester on April 12th with the top students from the state’s 25 vocational-technical high schools.

When her name and a list of her accomplishments was read, she walked across the stage as photos of her flashed across a large screen. “I thought I would be nervous,” she said. “But, surprisingly, I was fine. My family was there. My little brothers were both looking at me and smiling and taking pictures.”

Briana applied to Whittier as an eighth grader at Consentino Middle School because she knew she wanted a career in the health field, but she was not sure about a vocational-technical education. “My mom and I made a deal that even if I didn’t like it, I would have to stay for a year. Halfway through freshman year, I loved it and knew I had to stay here.”

After four years, she has an A+ average and is ranked second in her class of 302 students. Following graduation, she will attend the University of Massachusetts, Lowell where she will major in biology/pre-med. Her plan is to be a trauma surgeon.

She is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and has earned her Certified Nursing Assistant license as well as certifications in CPR/First Aid, OSHA, and Alzheimer’s/Dementia  training. She has won gold, silver and bronze medals in SkillsUSA competitions, and has been employed as a C.N.A. since the end of her junior year at Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital as part of Whittier’s co-operative education program.

As president of the Key Club, Briana has led several service projects such as the Teddy Bear Drive in which students distributed teddy bears to local police officers so they may comfort children experiencing trauma. She represents the student body on Whittier’s School Committee and is the recipient of the Bright Promise Scholarship and the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizen Award.

Briana not only honed her technical and academic skills in high school, she also came out of her shell, she said. In middle school, she tried for class president, president of the honor society and captain of her sports teams, but earned none of those titles.

“Key Club at Whittier is what made me more confident,” she said. She worked her way up the ranks and became president this year. “Doing community service helps you see what other people’s lives are like. It made me have more understanding and respect for others. I realized I should not take stuff for granted.”

Her job also helped her mature, she said. “I work in a hospital so I have to talk to people who may be crying and have chronic illnesses, and some of them are young,” she said. “It was hard to talk to patients at first and now I can walk right up and start talking and they remember me, which is nice.”

Brianna is the daughter of Sandra and Jayson Jackson of Haverhill.

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Whittier Tech