Jen Ocampo is tasked with an important part of building students’ well-being. As a Carrera Family Life and Sexuality Education educator, she navigates 9th and 11thgraders through some of the important topics they come across in their teen and young adult years like reproductive health, contraception, and STIs.
“We get to cover a lot of stuff that we don’t get to talk about anywhere else,” she said.
Jen and her students discuss these topics both in a classroom setting and in one-on-one counseling. In both spaces, she finds that her students shy away from conversations around sexual health. However, Jen uses their apprehension to generate transparent and honest dialogue around healthy behaviors. She feels rewarded when she sees her students continue these conversations outside of her classroom.
The Carrera program’s long-term approach also provides Jen with the unique opportunity to see her students grow over the years. In her seven years of working with Carrera, she has seen some of her students through the beginnings of their first romantic relationships. She constantly reminds them that discussing their “sexuality is natural and normal.”
“How they talk about friendships, how they talk with adults—those are all parts of sexuality,” she said. In broadening her students’ understanding, Jen’s end-goal is to help them all develop healthy interactions across their lifespan.