Today@Sam Article

Health Science Interns Reflect On Experiences

Aug. 18, 2017
SHSU Media Contact: Lane Fortenberry

Participating in an internship is a valuable experience. It allows students to step foot in their future career field and get a jump start into what the workplace will feel like and how it will operate, which is something a classroom can’t always simulate.

A number of Sam Houston State University College of Health Science students interned at four different companies this summer.

The companies included the Cleveland ISD Child Nutrition Program, Healing Species of Texas, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Claressa Byers, senior public health major, interned for the Cleveland ISD Child Nutrition Program at Montebello Park in the Plum Grove area, handing out food to children to help ensure no child faced food insecurity.

Stephany Reyna (black shirt) and Claressa Byers (mint shirt) interned for the Cleveland ISD Child Nutrition Program at Montebello Park over the summer. 

“This internship has taught me so many things,” Byers said. “It has shown me that time management and dedication are two very big aspects in making any program run smoothly and efficiently. I, and the other intern, Stephanie Reyna, were in charge of picking the food up and delivering it to the site to be set up in enough time to start meal service at exactly 11 a.m. every day.”

Not only did they distribute food, they also taught health education. The interns assessed the population and organized and implemented health education topics, such as summer safety, proper car seat installation and balanced nutrition, putting the knowledge learned from their public health courses into practice.

“Because we have a certain start time, the program can be fined if we are running late and we cannot start on time,” she said. “It was so important that we all communicate about who is picking up the food, and if anything interferes with our ability to get to the park on time.”

Byers said the internship taught her the practical, every day skills that everyone knows, but sometimes fall short in using at times. 

“It’s skills like being on time, every day, no matter what,” she said. “Also, having a set schedule that doesn't allow much room for variation because your team depends on you. All of the people that I have met through this internship have been extremely helpful and knowledgeable.

“They themselves have been where I am today and do everything they can to make this internship experience as purposeful and enriching as possible,” she said. “The internship has opened my eyes to new experiences and possible career paths that without it, I would never even thought of.”

Darius Burren, senior health science major, and Onokwu Ojodulume, senior public health major, interned for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a program that helps grant the wishes of children with terminal illnesses, and handled many responsibilities.

Onokwu Ojodulume and Darius Burren (not pictured) interned with the Make-A-Wish Foundation over the summer.

Burren and Ojodulume assisted with wish granting operations, which included contacting doctors for wish granting documents, as well as faxing documents and submissions to doctors or other wish coordinators. They entered child medical information and other information needed into databases to keep track of the wish children. Other responsibilities included booking flights, hotels and making arrangements for wish children and their families to go on wishes.

“One of the things I have learned while being at the internship is teamwork; because the foundation is a non-profit, other volunteers and interns like myself are needed to carry out the operations,” Burren said. “There are tons of things that need to be done to be successful. In order to get a lot of it done, I have to work as a team member with the other interns and volunteers.

“Another thing that I had to employ on a regular basis was being self-sufficient,” he said. “Since there's so much to do, not everyone had the time to sit and watch you and hold your hand. Being a fast learner and being self-sufficient are things that not only have I learned, but I also employ those skills on a regular basis. 

Burren said one of the most important things he’s taken away from the internship was the ability to experience the hearts of the people and volunteers he worked with.

“Everyone that volunteers and works for the Make-A-Wish Foundation has a tremendous heart, because they work incredibly hard for these children,” he said. “Just to see their most heartfelt wishes come true is so special. It takes incredible individuals to do the work they do.”

Burren cherishes the opportunity he had to meet the people he never thought he would have met.

“I got a chance to see some of the day-to-day operations and what it takes to run a non-profit health organization like the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” he said. “As someone who wants to go into health care administration, I have learned and developed many important skills that I know I will need in my future career. I thank the Make-A-Wish Foundation for giving me that opportunity.”

Chelsea Punch, senior health care administration major, and Yadira Coria, senior public health major, interned for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Student Series, a program that focused on Pennies for Patients, which raises money for blood cancers.

“I fostered and built relationships with internal and external contacts, created marketing tools for program success and inserted data for the program,” Punch said.

Punch has enhanced a plethora of her skills including time management, project ownership, outreach, professionalism, data entry, and communication skills.

“I have learned to be confident in all the work I produce,” she said. “I felt great coming in everyday knowing I am making a difference with implementing tools to raise lifesaving dollars for cancer research and the patients that we serve. I may not be working directly with patients much, but I am making a difference.”

Coria served as an outreach intern and assisted with patient services and program planning.

Chelsea Punch (left), Yadira Coria, Amber Lee, campaign specialist, and Angelica Schaefer, campaign director, during their time with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Student Series over the summer.

“I have become more passionate in my career and I am more confident than ever before,” Coria said. “I have learned how to be a true professional. I want to be the change and by helping cure blood cancer, I am one step closer to that goal.”

Elizabeth McChesney, senior public health major, and Jeremy Michel, senior public health major, both interned at Healing Species of Texas, a violence and bullying prevention education program in Montgomery that teaches children and teens compassion with rescued dogs playing a key part in the process. 

“We worked with mentally ill children and helped them express their negative emotions in a positive way,” McChesney said. “We used rescue dogs as a way to show that even through their darkest days, they can overcome them.” 

“I feel this internship has been useful for when I obtain my nursing degree later on,” she said. “It has helped me better understand the patients I will be working with.”

Michel said he’s come to the realization that kids just want to be kids and want to be treated like everyone else, even with the situations they’ve been through.

“I helped teach a violence intervention, character and compassion education outreach program for children using rescued dogs,” he said. “Healing Species teaches children a process from which to understand and overcome abuse, neglect and grief while teaching life skills in self-esteem, conflict resolution, anger management, respect for the feelings of others, and in gaining success through acts of compassion and responsibility instead of returning ‘violence for violence.’

“Healing Species is an amazing organization with amazing people,” he said. “The moment I met our supervisor, Joy Southard, I could tell she has a passion for what she does. Helping these children and giving them a way to deal with issues other than with violence is incredibly important.”

Jeremy Michel (left) and Elizabeth McChesney interned with Healing Species of Texas over the summer.

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