Return to Headlines

A "Make It Happen" Girl

North 55 By Kim Underwood

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools

DECEMBER 6, 2018 – Life is popping for Ashanti Cuthrell, a junior at North Forsyth High who participates in the school’s Academy of Health Sciences.

This summer, she spent a day shadowing Dr. Julie Freischlag, the CEO of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and dean of Wake Forest School of Medicine. As part of that experience, she was present in the operating room while Dr. Freischlag performed surgery.

More recently, Cuthrell participated in an online conference call that included students from across the country.

The academy at North works in partnership with NAF, a national nonprofit organization that works to help high schools provide skilled workers in several fields. As one of only seven high school representatives in the entire country for the NAF Health Science program, Cuthrell participated in a call that included students in such states as California and Texas.

Here in Forsyth County, Cuthrell is active in academy programs in the community such as the “Walking Club” and “Tech Club” at nearby Salemtowne retirement community.

She also participates in the “Walk with the Doc” program, which brings a doctor to the North campus to talk with and walk with students.

Cuthrell not only participates in such learning adventures, she also helps take care of the logistics and other details that keep the programs running smoothly, said Teryn Hynning, the health sciences teacher who serves as the Magnet/NAF Coordinator at North Forsyth,

Cuthrell is “a 'make-it-happen' girl,” Hynning said.

So, for Hynning, that made Cuthrell the ideal person to nominate when NAF was looking for students to become members of a national student advisory board.

“She was the first person who came to mind,” Hynning said.

North 66 Although the academy at North Forsyth is the only Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school with a focus on health sciences, it is, by no means, the only NAF academy in the school system.

Other Winston-Salem/Forsyth County high schools have NAF academies with a different focus. Carver has two NAF academies – an Academy of Hospitality & Tourism and an Academy of Information Technology. Mount Tabor also has an Academy of Hospitality & Tourism. East Forsyth and West Forsyth each have an Academy of Finance.

Cuthrell knows that she wants a career in the medical field. At the moment, becoming a doctor who specializes in women's health as an OB-GYN (obstetrician-gynecologist) is at the top of her list of possibilities. She also envisions helping women in other countries through a program such as Doctors Without Borders.

“I feel like I can make a difference with that,” Cuthrell said.

A big source of inspiration for Cuthrell is her grandmother – Alberta Cuthrell, who has had to deal with such challenges as losing two of her three children – including Cuthrell’s father – when they were still relatively young.

“She didn’t give up,” Cuthrell said.

Her grandmother is a minister at their church, and, now, as she approaches 70, she is earning her doctorate in divinity at Vintage Bible College.

“She motivates me,” Cuthrell.

Her grandmother has lots of company when it comes to encouraging Cuthrell.

“My whole family is supportive,” she said.   

Cuthrell also appreciates what Hynning does for her.

“She is wonderful,” she said. “She is such a beautiful person. She is like my spirit animal.”

Cuthrell goes to Goodwill Baptist Church in Arcadia, and she met Dr. Freischlag through an administrator who goes to Goodwill Baptist.

Cuthrell has a full life. While being active in her church and thoroughly engaged at North, she works at a clothing store in Hanes Mall called Journeys Kidz. Most weeks, she works after school on Friday and on Saturday and Sunday.

She sometimes picks up other shifts, and she worked a full shift on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving known for being a huge shopping day.

“My feet were hurting,” she said.

Cuthrell’s birthday is coming up on December 15. She is happy to report that it’s far enough away from Christmas that people don’t give her combination birthday/Christmas presents.

When she has some time to call her own, she likes to read stories on Wattpad, a website where people post stories they have written, or to watch such medical shows as Gray’s Anatomy. She also goes to movies whenever she gets a chance.

Asked whether there is a celebrity she would like to meet one day, Cuthrell instantly said, “Denzel Washington.”

With North being a magnet school that focuses on health sciences, students throughout the school system are invited to apply.

Hynning – along with Emily Osborne, the Instructional Facilitator at North, and others at North – have been working hard to create learning opportunities at the school and out in the community. Here is a list that Hynning put together of some of those opportunities:

  • Magnet Extension Opportunities- Opportunities that any student at North has available to them
    • Thirst Project (Oct 2018)- group of young adults raising awareness for the global water crisis
      • Teachers brought students to learn more about why this is a critical issue affecting Global Health
    • Forsyth Tech Lunch and Learns- every Tues/Thurs during all lunches throughout the month of November
      • Staff from FTCC came to speak to students about careers and education in the field of health sciences- Respiratory therapy, Pharmacy tech and radiation therapy, medical assisting, nuclear medicine technology, nursing, MRI/imaging, therapeutic massage
      • Over 100 students signed up to attend the sessions
    • FTCC Mass Casualty Day- Nov 29, 2018 students participated as student actors/actresses while the FTCC Nursing School Students assessed and triaged the students during a mock school shooting
      • Students had a variety of injuries/trauma
      • Got to be part of the debriefing session with the students to learn why they did what they did in terms of triaging the victims
    • Health Science Seminar-
  • NAF Happenings (Health Science Academy)
    • Mentor program in full swing (18 mentor/mentee pairs)
    • Interview skill session and mock interview practice with Cook Medical in December
    • Tech Club @ Salemtowne first Tues of every month
    • Walk with a Doc- partnership with WFU Cardiologist Dr. German- 2nd Tues of every month to raise awareness about healthy lifestyle in the community
    • Juniors looking forward to summer internships
    • Chamber of commerce business luncheons
  • Health Science Seminar
    • Cook Medical - Endoscopy Visit
      • Students visited their facility near campus to learn about product development and the role of nurses and product managers.  Students were able to use the equipment and see how healthcare providers are trained to use new devices. 
    • Emergency room physicians from WFUBMC (Dr. Macklin, Dr. Wendel, Dr. Tucker, Dr. Dickens) visited to talk to students about their paths to medical school and their roles/responsibilities.  
    • We will celebrate student’s pathway selections in cooperation with Cook Medical January 4th.


Kim Underwood