Newton High School junior Shelbie Young already knows she wants to study to be a dentist when she graduates — but she doesn't want to wait until after high school to start pursuing that dream.

Young is serving as the president of a new club at Newton High School, a chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America. The club seeks to prepare students for careers in the health care industry.

"We just all want to be in the health care field when we're older, and we wanted to take action in high school," Young said.

The club — which started this year — also participates in the Health Sciences Academy program, a partnership between USD 373 and Newton Medical Center. Students go to the NMC campus to take classes.

Young said one of her favorite parts of the organization is how it gets students involved in hands-on projects and encourages them to take leadership roles.

"It's been nice," she said. "I like that it's not just a label and I have to participate."

USD 373 instructor Richard Mick said right now the club is working on a fundraising campaign called "Pennies for Patients," collecting funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

During the next two weeks, the club will set up a table during the lunch period and collect donations from students, teachers and staff.

Young said the club members have turned the fundraiser into a competition between the classes, to see who can raise the most money. She's proud of the fact her class — the juniors — currently are in the lead.

Her goal is to raise a total of $800 through the fundraiser. She sees the fundraiser as a way for the club to give back to those in need.

"Health is a huge part of the community and society," she said. "If (HOSA is) able to have new technology and a new class, we should try to give back."