Ulster BOCES means different things to different people.
For Chelsea Tucker, Ulster BOCES means finding her niche in the world of health care and pursuing her career dreams while serving her country.
Chelsea is currently in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, transforming herself from an everyday citizen into an American soldier at U.S. Army Basic Training. When she finishes the 10-week course in April, she will begin to train for the job of mental health specialist.
Chelsea has always been interested in service-related careers that ranged from police officer to veterinary technician. Ultimately, the 2013 Saugerties High School graduate chose to pursue nursing in high school and completed both the Health Occupations Exploration Program (HOEP) and the Nurse Assistant programs at Ulster BOCES Career & Technical Center.
While she was studying in HOEP and working at Ten Broeck Commons nursing facility in Kingston, a guest speaker sparked an interest in prison health care and Chelsea was intrigued. She eventually went to work at Coxsackie Correctional Facility in Greene County.
"It was a different kind of health care," she said. "Definitely more mental health care."
Her experience at Coxsackie "really cemented" her decision to specialize in mental health with the dream of someday becoming a psychiatrist in private practice. To help pay for the college required for that dream and to gain even more valuable experience, Chelsea enlisted in the Army. Until her departure for Basic Training in early February, she took part in the Future Soldier program, a preparation program for enlisted recruits who have not yet left for formal training, at the Army Recruiting Center in Kingston.
"Chelsea has been our star player here," Staff Sgt. Steven Eymann said of her participation in the program. "She's motivated and eager, and she brightens up Future Soldier time. We're sad to see her go."
Chelsea credits her success in her various endeavors, and much of her personal growth as well, to the strong personal and educational foundation she received at Ulster BOCES.
"I love BOCES. It taught me a lot," she said.
Ulster BOCES helped Chelsea improve skills that she can take into future jobs.
"It helped me a lot with social skills," she said, adding that she was shy when she started at Ulster BOCES but the small, supportive environment of students "all going in the same direction" helped bring her out of her shell. "It taught me how to become more of a leader and helped me with my communication skills. National Technical Honor Society taught me how to manage a group setting."
Chelsea said also received great support from her Ulster BOCES teachers, whom she referred to as "just awesome," adding, "They're willing to sit with you one on one and help you."
Chelsea said that any student considering Ulster BOCES should "definitely do it" and take advantage of all it has to offer, including clubs like National Technical Honor Society and SkillsUSA.
"Ulster BOCES can help you so much in your life," she said. "It sets you up for a better future."