Da’Ione Fields of Gary balances academics, work and volunteering as he hones his skills with an eye toward a career in forensic science.

Fields, 17, a 21st Century Charter School junior, is making the most of his high school years by volunteering at Methodist Hospital Northlake Campus in Gary where he works in the emergency room, working at Taco Bell in Portage part time and acting as the athletic manager for the girls and boys basketball team and the girls volleyball team.


He has had an opportunity to interact with health care professionals at Methodist Hospital and thinks of them as his second family. He also has “scrubbed” to go into surgery with one of the staff doctors and he has visited the morgue with others.

He has ridden around with officers in the Gary Police Department to get a feel for their jobs and the kinds of people they encounter and he takes the time to talk with families in the emergency room who are going through a traumatic experience.

In August, Indiana’s EMS Commission approved a recommendation by the State Health Commissioner to grant an “in process” designation allowing Methodist Hospital Northlake campus in Gary to serve as a Level III trauma center.

Fields, who is just as proud of that designation as if he were already a member of the team, pointed it out and talked about how happy everyone on the staff is about it. He is getting hands-on experience and making real world connections with people in the medical and criminal justice fields.

“I’ve talked to the nurses and doctors about the different levels of trauma and how to recognize them,” he said. “I want to major in forensic science and minor in sports medicine. I’m interested in crime scene investigation and all of this will help me.”

Methodist Hospital charge nurse Alechia Norwood said she had the pleasure of first meeting Fields last year.

“Working in the medical field at this level and age can be an eye-opener,” she said. “My goal ultimately is to see him employed at the hospital. He’s a good kid, a blessing to have around.”

Emergency room manager Kisha Bass said Fields will help out with anything that is asked of him.

“He’s always very professional,” she said. “No one has to tell him what to do. He steps in and does it on his own. He automatically knows what to do to help families. He wears a red jacket like other volunteers but I’m not sure if everyone knows he’s a volunteer.”

Karen Fitzgerald, 21st Century associate principal, said she has known him since seventh grade. She said he’s a hard worker and a good student.

“He’s a model student,” she said.

A few days into the school year, band teacher Olympia Johnson is just getting to know her students. She said Fields, who plays a tuba, seems to be responsible and conscientious.

Fields began his school career in Gary, starting seventh grade at Roosevelt College and Career Academy. He stayed there a semester until transferring to Thea Bowman Leadership Academy. He remained there more than two years before moving over to 21st Century Charter School and he intends to graduate from there.

Fields is in the 21st Century Scholarship program and looks forward to choosing a school in Indiana for his post secondary education. In addition to all of his other activities, Fields is also active in church.

Fields and his older brother are being raised by their paternal grandparents James and Elizabeth Johnson Sr. of Gary. He said he is the second oldest of 11 children. Fields said his parents had him and his brother when they were 19 and 20, and he made the choice to live with his grandparents.

“I think that the reason I am so driven is because I want to have a good paying job,” he said. “I want to give back to my family. I want to be able to marry and be financially stable. My parents and my grandparents are very supportive although my grandmother tells me to slow down sometimes.”

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