ROD GUAJARDO | The Natchez Democrat — Cathedral senior Shannon Mire, 18, recently visited Los Angeles as part of a National Youth Leadership Forum for medicine. Mire wants to be an occupational therapist and will attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson this fall.

Bright Future: From Natchez to Los Angeles

Published 12:02am Thursday, January 24, 2013

NATCHEZ — Cathedral senior Shannon Mire has been California dreamin’ since coming back from Los Angeles to the winter days in Natchez.

Mire, 18, visited the city of angels after being selected by Cathedral teacher Denise Thibodeaux to participate in a National Youth Leadership Forum.

Since she already had an interest in the health care profession, Mire chose medicine from the three available programs — medicine, law and crime scene investigation or national security — to embark on a 10-day trip in one of 13 cities.

The available cities included Atlanta, New York City and Washington, D.C., among others, but Mire said the choice was a no brainer for her.

“I thought it would be nice to visit the other side of the country because I had already been to Washington D.C.,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to live in a big city, but after that trip all I’ve wanted to do is move to California.”

Mire, along with a handful of other students from across the country, stayed in the dorms at the University of California, Los Angeles and spent most of her days in and out of classrooms attending classes and lectures.

“They gave us a huge book that had a ton of different exercises, and we would go through those and meet with different doctors,” Mire said. “My favorite part was probably getting to watch a live knee surgery.

“I really wanted to be a physician assistant that stands next to the surgeon the whole time, so that was fun to watch.”

The surgery Mire watched was being performed at a hospital in Washington and was broadcast live through monitors that all the students watched in a conference room, she said.

During the surgery, the various doctors and surgeons went around and introduced themselves and explained what their jobs were to the students watching.

“They let you ask any questions you wanted, but I didn’t really ask anything,” Mire said. “I guess I was too scared.”

Apart from the lectures and classes, Mire said the group also got to visit Universal Studios and see some of the sights.

“That was the first theme park I had ever been to, so it was really fun,” Mire said. “There were a lot of lines, but we rode a bunch of the roller coasters and then took a tour bus around to see some sights.”

After the roller-coaster rides and sightseeing was done, Mire hit the classroom again for three more days before departing from Los Angeles International Airport to return home.

While the trip did allow her to witness her first live surgery, Mire said hearing from doctors from across the medical field ultimately helped her change her mind about what she wants to study after graduation in May.

“Now I really want to be an occupational therapist,” she said. “I’ve always liked to help people, and they do a lot of work with deaf people and sign language.

“I just think that’s my calling.”

Mire said she will attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Wesson this fall with the eventual goal of attending the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for medical school.

And even though her collegiate plans will keep her in Mississippi for a few more years, Mire said she will always have California on her mind.

“I want to move to either Los Angeles or San Diego,” she said. “California is just so nice.”

Shannon is the daughter of James and Sharon Mire.