Ketty Toussaint is a quiet, poised and articulate senior Medford Vocational Technical High School student who not only is ranked number one in her class, but also serves as Senior Class President. As a Health Assisting Program major, Ketty is preparing herself to become a physician, a career she has dreamed of as a young girl growing up in Haiti. Due to Ketty’s drive and academic excellence, she was selected to participate in the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program at Harvard Medical School. Ketty is one of 60 Greater Boston students selected, and the only Vocational Technical High School student, to attend this nine week mentorship program that exposes students to the health and science professions. “It is amazing to be able to meet other students from around the area that share my interests in a health career. This program began in November and runs through February. We meet every Saturday from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM and hear from different physicians and public health experts, participate in group activities and obtain assistance with college applications. It has been quite a positive experience and I am learning so much about what the health and science fields have to offer”, said Ketty. In addition, Ketty was selected to the STAND Program (Students Taking Action for Nursing Diversity) at Bunker Hill Community College. Upon successful completion of this course, Ketty would automatically be accepted in Bunker Hill’s nursing program.
Ketty arrived in the United States at ten years old along with her father. Her mother stayed behind in their native Haiti to care for relatives. They first settled in Tampa, Florida, but soon decided to move here to the City of Medford to be near family. Ketty entered the McGlynn Middle School as a sixth grade ELL student and learned to speak English by communicating with her cousins. As part of eighth grade orientation, Ketty was introduced to both Medford High School and the Medford Vocational Technical High School. At first, Ketty thought that the Vocational Technical High School sounded great, due to its “shop” classes. Looking back now, Ketty said laughing, “originally, I thought “shop class” meant shopping, so that had to be good!” But, when she arrived, she immediately fell in love with all the options and courses that the Vocational Technical High School had to offer. She eventually decided to take the Health Assisting Program and has excelled from day one.
Ketty serves as Secretary to the Skills USA Massachusetts Program, which offers competitions for Vocational Technical High School students. Last year, Ketty assisted Hunter Raymond with his robot project, which he developed to enable his teacher, Mr. Rich Cormio, who was receiving cancer treatment, to still be able to teach his class from his home. Ketty served as the “medical” advisor to the competition group, offering background on the type of cancer that affected Mr. Cormio. Hunter’s team moved on from the District Competition to the State Tournament. This year, Ketty intends to compete and hopefully move from the District, to the State to the National Competition.
What drives Ketty? “My parents have always motivated me and urged me to do more. I never say no to any possibility to learn something new or participate in something that will enrich my academic career. The administration and teachers here at the Medford Vocational Technical High School are so supportive and make me want to excel. Dr. Heidi Riccio, Director, Ms. Trofimow, my teacher, and the staff and my friends all make me want to do my best at all times. I always say, just give me more!”
In her spare time, Ketty gives back to the Medford Boys and Girls Club, where she, as a young student often spent time. Now, Ketty serves as a volunteer there, helping students with their homework or chaperoning field trips. “I attended the Boys and Girls Club a lot in my younger years, going to their summer camp program and participating in their running club. I enjoy spending time assisting students there.” She also serves on the Yearbook Staff, attends Student Government meetings and tutors her younger cousins. Currently, she is in the process of looking for a coop job at either an assisted living or nursing home facility. Ketty has applied to Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, hoping to major in pre- med or biology. Either school would be lucky to have her! She is on her way to fulfilling her dream of being a physician. Her biggest dream though is to be able to return to Haiti someday and establish a clinic or hospital there, as there are not enough health care facilities available for its residents.
As I left Ketty, all I could think of was the NIKE ad that states, “just do it!” Ketty certainly does it, but she does so in a humble way, that just captivates you. I am proud to have met the future Dr. Ketty M. Toussaint and fully believe a hospital in Haiti someday will bear her name.