Darien student-athletes begin Medical Interest club

Chelsea Donovan remembers the day in middle school when Post 53, the Emergency Medical Service in Darien, paid a visit to speak with students during lunch.

A fire was lit inside Donovan.

“They went around the tables telling us all about Post,” Donovan, a junior at Darien High, said. “I thought it was super interesting, so I started with the first aid class and I got accepted into Post which was really exciting.”

Post 53 has a strong connection with Darien High. According to its website, more than 1,000 students have become members of the service since its inception in 1970 and it provides training and classes to the community, adults and students.

It was a perfect place for Donovan, but even with that, she felt there was one more piece to be added.

“After (joining Post 53), I felt as though I still wanted more,” Donovan said. “So that’s when my friend and I had the idea for the Medical Interest Club.”

Donovan and Jillian Roche, also a junior, co-founded and are co-presidents of the club, which helps students learn about steps they can take should they want to pursue their “passion for medicine” in college and beyond.

“(We) founded the club because we’re both super interested in a career in the medical field and realized we didn’t really know how to get there,” Donovan said. “So we created a club that taught members what options there are, what kind of different careers there are, and also the steps that you would take to get to that career.”

The two students are leaders in several arenas.

Donovan was a top scorer for the Blue Wave’s girls ice hockey team, which finished as a state runner-up with Donovan earning CHSGHA All-State and GameTimeCT All-State First Team honors.

Roche is a captain of the volleyball team, which was the FCIAC runner-up and a Class L semifinalist in the fall. Roche, an outside hitter, was a GameTimeCT All-State Second Team selection.

When they got together for ideas they weren’t really sure what they would do at first, Roche said, but once they started the club, it was a fast hit.

“We started getting people together and started teaching them about different types of positions and fields in the medical industry,” Roche said. “It kept growing and now we have an event coordinator, a secretary and a bunch of other people who help us. So I think we’re going to do big things next year.”

Donovan said they’ve e gained a lot of members even in the first year, and students span all grades.

“A lot of Post 53 members also joined because they really only know the EMS side of things and they want to learn more about continuing a career in the medical field,” Donovan said. “We have a huge range of members but the one common thing is we all really do love medicine.”

The club meets on Thursday, typically every other week, and many members attend every session.

“We are basically helping other people learn about the medical field and if they’re interested in that, we’re fostering their love for medicine,” Roche said. “We’re giving them a starting point for them to see what they might want to do when they’re older.”

While the club is not affiliated with Post 53, Donovan said her work with the EMS service has allowed her to connect with many people of similar interests.

“(Post 53) has been an incredible experience,” Donovan said. “There are members who play sports, which is really cool, and some who do theater or are interested in various other activities outside of Post and school.

“You really meet a range of people, grow together as sort of a second family, and the work we do is important.”

After receiving training at Post 53, Donovan began teaching. She was the service’s CPR coordinator, scheduling and organizing classes and planning CPR events.

After the most recent elections for executive officers, she became the vice president of training.

“It’s always a great feeling when you see someone start to understand what the content is that you’re teaching,” Donovan said. “It’s great to see that people agre willing to learn life skills such as CPR. You may not think you’ll ever need to perform CPR but it really is a life-saving skill and if you’re ever put in that scenario, it’s always good to know what you would do and how you would respond in an emergency.”

While helping others on their paths, both Donovan and Roche also have their sights set on continuing their own journeys into college.

Roche, who said she’s always wanted to be a doctor, wants to go to medical school and perhaps work in pediatrics.

Donovan would like to major in pre-med in college and get on track to go to medical school as well.

For now, they’re both continuing their work with other students.

“While I’m still in high school, I’m just doing the best I can with Post 53 and as co-president of this club,” Donivan said. “It’s really providing that information to everyone and continuing to learn myself. It’s fulfilling.”

david.stewart@hearstmediact.com; @dstewartsports