How does a blood pressure cuff work? What do the numbers mean? Where are the best places to take someone’s temperature?

Almost everyone has experienced the taking of basic vital signs. But students enrolled in the Educational Talent Search program at Central Alabama Community College (CACC) got to learn the hows and whys of vital signs in a pre-medicine camp.

Dr. Shandra Williams coordinates the talent search program for CACC and it’s not just CACC’s Talent Search team working with area high school students.

“We partnered with our nursing department — oh my gosh they are great,” Williams said. “They are teaching them how to take vital signs. How to do CPR. They even dissect animal parts.”

The camp is appealing to rising Dadeville High School junior Jordan Ford who is exploring furthering her education to pursue a career.

“It’s really good; it gives us an advantage,” Ford said. “I want to go into the medical field. I have learned a lot of things.”

And that is exactly what Williams wants to see from area high school students taking advantage of Talent Search.

“We are trying to encourage high school students to go to college,” Williams said. “They don’t necessarily have to come to CACC, but we do introduce them to the campus and the faculty here.”

Williams would like to see students enroll at CACC but just getting a post-secondary education is the mission. Talent search is a part of the U.S. Department of Education TRIO Program and the mission of talent search is to help identify and assist individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education. The program provides academic, career, and financial counseling to its participants and encourages them to graduate from high school and continue on to and complete their postsecondary education.

The funding for talent search also provides for college visits.

“We take them all over the place if we have funds left,” Williams said. “If they want to have a tour and speak to people at the University of Alabama, we take them to Tuscaloosa. We have funds built in for that. A lot of students make a decision of what college they want to go to from those college tours. It’s not necessarily the camps.”

The TRIO program also provides funding for student services according to Williams.

“Upward Bound is part of TRIO along with Talent Search,” Williams said. “Both high school based, so we work with 9th through 12th grade students. Some programs do have 7th and 8th graders. The student support services are inside the colleges. It is basically for tutoring and other things — basically what it says, student support.”

For talent search CACC and Williams are working with 12 high schools in the area in Tallapoosa, Coosa, Clay and Talladega counties. CACC has been involved in Talent Search for more than 20 years.

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.