Student finds future through co-op

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Learning to Work: Part 2 of 4

By Kelly Cantrall

Kylie Keen began her junior year of high school without an idea of what her post-graduation life would hold. Now, as she enters the last months of her high school career, she knows exactly where she’s headed.


Working in the office of Ann Carnes, a local dentist, has given Keen, a senior at Elizabethtown High School, a direction for her future. Keen plans to pursue a dental hygiene certification and possibly a career as a dentist.

Keen began working in the office last year as a co-op student. Keen said she wanted to find a career that she could pursue after graduation, and her mother knew someone who worked at Carnes’ office.

Keen said she took to the surroundings very quickly.

“I was so interested in everything,” she said.

Keen does a variety of tasks around the office and steps into the role of dental assistant, working with Carnes on procedures such as fillings and crowns. She spends about half her school day there Monday through Thursday every week.

Keen said she enjoys the process of treating patients and seeing the changes to their teeth.

“... You help someone every day,” she said.

The job calls for organizational skills and the ability to think and act quickly, which she enjoys.

“I mean, I love it now,” she said.

Carnes said Keen has been a "fantastic" asset to the office, which is why she was eager to have her return for a second year.

"We've enjoyed having her here tremendously," she said.

Carnes said they've had some wonderful experiences with co-op students, and she feels good knowing that Keen's experience has helped her in determining her future goals.

"If I've influenced someone in a positive way, I love it," she said.

Keen would like to attend the University of Louisville and receive her certification as a dental hygienist. She’s also considering attending dental school.

While she first began the co-op experience because she didn’t know what she wanted to do after high school, the work has made her certain about her future career. It has given her a lot of knowledge about the work that she wouldn’t otherwise have before entering her postsecondary studies, she said.

Kelly Cantrall can be reached at (270) 505-1747 or kcantrall@thenewsenterprise.com.