SOW Stephanie Kazokas March 09, 2009

Stephanie Kazokas working at Western Slope Auto.

Stephanie Kazokas will visit a cadaver laboratory in Denver in April.

And she’s excited about it.

“I’m really looking forward to that,” said the 18-year-old Grand Junction high School senior. “I’ll be able to get some hands-on experience with that.”

Kazokas said she toyed with the idea of being a nurse, but enrolling in the medical preparation course at Western Colorado Community College this year sealed the deal.

Kazokas’ instructor, Theresa Bloom, introduced the idea of visiting the laboratory to her students as a field trip, so the class committed to raising the money for the trip.

“My dream in life is to be a nurse,” she said.

The course allowed her to gain experience in nursing through rotating shifts at local nursing homes, which made her realize nursing is where she’s meant to be.

Kazokas is a member of Health Occupation Students of America, which sponsors competitions for students on health-related topics. Kazokas said her chapter raised $3,000 for the group to compete last Thursday in Denver.

She competed in the CPR First Aid event and prepared for the competition by practicing first-aid scenarios with her fellow members.

“It was a lot of like, ‘How would you handle this situation?’ ” she said.

Kazokas said the organization occupies a lot of her spare time, and she wishes she had been more involved in high school activities.

But not many teenagers can say they bought and paid off a car without any help from their parents.

Kazokas works in the service department at the Western Slope Auto Co. One of her goals was to save enough to money for a down payment on a car.

The owner of the dealership worked out a plan to deduct a car payment from Kazokas’ paychecks, so she was able to pay off her 2002 Saturn in seven months.

“My mom was with me through the whole process, but my parents didn’t help me with money at all,” Kazokas said.

Kazokas said she has been accepted at Mesa State College and plans to enroll through the school’s nursing program so she can stay close to family.

“I’ve always been big into family,” she said. “but the cool thing about nursing is I can take it anywhere I want to go.”

So big, in fact, that Kazokas and her pregnant mother have agreed on Kazokas being in the delivery room when her mother gives birth in August.

Kazokas said she would like to specialize in delivery and natal care nursing.

“We’ve agreed. My mom wants me in there for as long as I can be,” she said.

GPA: 3.5

Parents: Tracy and Mike

Preferred college: Mesa State College

Where she sees herself in five years: working as a nurse

Favorite music: Country

Favorite TV show: “At any given time, I’d rather be outside,” she said.

Personal hero: mom

Why?: “She’s been through some crazy stuff in her life and is so much stronger than I could
hope to be,” she said.

I’m most proud of: not being the stereotypical teenager, but being above that.


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