Internships make UTSW a preparation destination

High school and college students are brought in annually to UT Southwestern Medical Center to gain valuable work experience. This summer was no different, with 265 students working in virtually every corner of the campus.

“I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate how important the contribution of these young people is,” said Ruben Esquivel, Vice President for Community and Corporate Relations, “but what they get from their experiences while they’re here is equally important.

“For many of them, this is the first time they’ve had a real job, with real responsibilities, and what they learn gives them a look at what life can be like if they apply themselves. Several have gone on to medical school or allied programs and are now serving our community as medical and health professionals.”

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Mayor’s program allows students to realize opportunities Experience, learning environment at academic medical center help young participants whet appetite for future success

Mayor’s program allows students to realize opportunities

By Remekca Owens

Quinton Darden, a 17-year-old senior at Wilmer-Hutchins High School, spent his summer assisting with office tasks in UT Southwestern Medical Center’s Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. He gained valuable work experience in a medical field that few other high school students are exposed to at his age.

Yessica Elizondo and Quinton Darden
Yessica Elizondo and Quinton Darden

Ranked third in his high school class, Mr. Darden sought out the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program after deciding that a summer of lounging and hanging out with friends was not the best way to prepare for his future.

“I’m always searching for any opportunity to better myself, not just wasting time,” Mr. Darden said. “I love math, and working here has given me so many ideas for my future career – everything from finance to a career in medicine.”

This summer marked the second year of UT Southwestern’s participation in the program, a project supported by Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings in partnership with the local nonprofit organization Education is Freedom. The program provides underserved students in the Dallas Independent School District and local charter schools with college-entry preparation, mentoring, tutoring, and professional opportunities at some of the largest Dallas-area companies.

Ten students worked in departments across the medical center in a variety of clinical and professional areas such as Internal Medicine, Human Resources, University Hospital Nutrition Services, and Radiation Oncology, among others.

“Our goal is to make sure that students gain valuable, on-the-job training and professional experience during their time here,” said Charlotte Williams, UT Southwestern Senior Recruiter and coordinator of the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program. “This is also a great opportunity for UT Southwestern to develop a diverse group of student interns and the future generation of medical professionals.”

The students worked full-time, and for some their hard work paid off longer than expected. Yessica Elizondo, a 16-year-old honors student at Faith Family Academy in Dallas, was one of three interns asked to remain on staff after the intended completion date. Ms. Elizondo, who worked in the Office of Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs, plans to pursue a career as a pediatrician after completing her upcoming senior year.

“This has been such a great learning experience for me,” Ms. Elizondo said. “I’ve learned the importance of networking and being a professional since I’ve been here. Plus everyone has been so kind and helpful.”

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Experience, learning environment at academic medical centerhelp young participants whet appetite for future success


Kimel Hodges (second from right), Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion and Equal Opportunity, talks with summer interns (from left) Jabria Rahsaan, Taliah Royal, Sean Reed, and Karolyn Palmer (right) outside the Paul M. Bass Administrative and Clinical Center.
Kimel Hodges (second from right), Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion and Equal Opportunity, talks with summer interns (from left) Jabria Rahsaan, Taliah Royal, Sean Reed, and Karolyn Palmer (right) outside the Paul M. Bass Administrative and Clinical Center.

By Lin Lofley

Some of the interns working at UT Southwestern Medical Center arrive through programs such as the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program, established by Sen. Royce West of Dallas, who represents the Southwestern Medical District in the Texas Senate.

The Conrad Program, which celebrated 20 years in 2012, offers paid summer internships to promising undergraduate, graduate and professional-school students from Sen. West’s district. UT Southwestern employed 12 students from the Conrad Program in 2013 and is on track to sponsor its 150th undergraduate student next summer.

“I heard that 300 students applied this summer, and I feel very lucky to have been here,” said Jabria Rahsaan, an intern who is majoring in accounting at Texas Southern University.

As part of her work in Information Resources, Ms. Rahsaan conducted an inventory of the pagers used by the medical center and discovered that of 1,400 devices issued, only slightly more than 1,000 were being used. Now, pagers are provided only to those who ask for them. She also took part in a project to track billing services and enhance collections.

Another Conrad Program intern at UT Southwestern, Jamila Sherman, worked in Clinical Marketing. Ms. Sherman, a graduate of the Yvonne A. Ewell Townview Center in Dallas, is a senior marketing major at Southeastern Louisiana University.

“I got to see how we sell our facilities and our experts instead of selling a product,” Ms. Sherman said. “I’ve had a lot of friends come through the Conrad Program, and they’ve all had great things to say about their time at UT Southwestern. Now I know why. This was a great experience.”

Leslie Mills, a Marketing Manager at UT Southwestern and mentor to Ms. Sherman, said: “I had multiple internships while I was in college, so I know that experience is very important toward getting your first job.

“Getting experience before you get your first job can be crucial. I think this was a peek into a real-life situation for Jamila to learn that medical centers have to market themselves. She brought us some great ideas, and I believe she has a bright future.”

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