Teen Face: Technology High senior finds calling while volunteering

  • Technology High senior Brooke Wilson volunteers in a dental office in Petaluma on Tuesday, Aug.5, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat)

Brooke Wilson skipped time at the pool and cruising on her bicycle to spend part of her summer riding city buses.

The 17-year-old Rohnert Park resident was one of about four dozen kids from the Bay Area selected this year for an internship program sponsored by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission that gave high-schoolers an opportunity to work for local transit, planning and public works agencies.

Her job was to update Petaluma’s transit database, Wilson said. She set out to track every bus stop in the city that had a bench, shelter and sign. Although it wasn’t a cushy job, she never complained about sitting on a bus all day.

“I got to meet random, fun people,” said Wilson, who is a senior at Technology High School, a magnet school that boasts the county’s top academic scores.

Wilson said she also spent time this summer working at the city’s Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, where she went out with employees on restaurant grease-trap inspections. She said they used a device called a “Sludge Judge” to measure the build-up in the traps, a task aimed at preventing grease from entering the city’s wastewater system.

“I got a lot of hands-on,” she said.

The program allowed her to explore different career possibilities. But she discovered she didn’t want to be a transportation engineer. Nor did she want to drive buses or inspect grease traps for a living. She’d prefer to clean teeth.

After completing her internship with the city, she started volunteering for a dentist. Her mind is now set on becoming a dental hygienist.

She has spent four days a week at Dr. Von Chan’s office in Petaluma, watching dental hygienists scale and polish teeth, Wilson said. She’s also helped clean and prepare the rooms for patients and stuff dental floss and toothbrushes into “goody” bags.

Wilson thought about becoming a dentist — but only for a brief moment.

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