While her classmates are going to prom and choosing a college, Signal Mountain High School senior Eryn Turner will be teaching kids how to treat allergic reactions and providing other basic health care information at an orphanage in Quecholac, Mexico.
"I have a passion for kids - it's the one thing I know I'm good at, and I know it's what I'm meant to do," said Eryn, who first went to the orphanage as a seventh-grader with a group from Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church and has returned every year since. "In a way, I grew up with these kids."
Most students choose a senior project to benefit the local community, but as an International Baccalaureate school, she said SMHS encourages students to pursue projects abroad as well.
"It's supposed to go along with what you want to do in life," said Eryn, who would like to be a pediatric nurse practitioner in a Third World country, working with an organization such as The Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders.
She said the children's ministry at her church gathered medical supplies for the trip, and she will also be bringing medications such as Ibuprofen and Benadryl and showing people how and when they should be used.
"I feel like basic knowledge of first aid and health care would save so much money and potentially lives," said Eryn.
She said she planned to begin her freshman year of college while completing her final year at SMHS, and she will be taking college courses through Chattanooga State online while in Mexico from January until the end of April.
"[SMHS] doesn't offer dual enrollment because of [the IB program], so I'd be taking them online anyway," said Eryn, who earned enough credits through AP courses to have only two classes left to take during her senior year.
One of those classes is Spanish 5, which will come in handy while in Quecholac, located four and a half hours southeast of Mexico City.
"I can carry on a conversation pretty easily," she said of her fluency in the country's native language.