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Former interns recall how working at UTSW shaped their futures

Student interns seated at table
Students participate in the Dallas Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program, working at UT Southwestern.

Many high school and college students look forward to the carefree days of summer: a break from the heavy load of classes, late nights followed by sleeping in, and plenty of adventure. For some students, the summer offers a chance to explore different vocational passions while simultaneously gaining paid work experience.

Two local internship programs, the Dr. Emmett J. Conrad Leadership Program and the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program, provide Dallas-area high school and college students opportunities to get their feet wet at companies and institutions across the Metroplex, including UT Southwestern.     

“These internship programs afford students an opportunity to invest in their future ‘practically,’ while also developing themselves personally, said Keneshia Colwell, an Equal Opportunity Specialist in the Office of institutional Equity and Access. Ms. Colwell oversaw the 2017 and 2018 group of UTSW Conrad interns. “I have always admired institutions like UT Southwestern for pouring back into the next generation and giving them the tools to compete in life beyond college.”

Recently, two graduates of the programs shared their reflections on the internship experience and how it helped direct their career trajectory.

Dr. Bogar Garcia, UTSW Medical School alumnus (2015)

Emergency Medicine
Medical City Plano

Portrait of Dr. Bogar Garcia

In 2010, Dr. Bogar Garcia, then a biology student at UT Arlington, interned in the Emergency Department under the late Dr. Michael Wainscott through the Conrad program. Led by the office of Texas state Sen. Royce West, the Conrad program has coordinated more than 2,500 internship placements since 1993. UTSW’s involvement extends all the way back to the summer of the inception year.

“I knew I wanted to apply to medical school, but never sat down to talk to anyone who had done it before,” Dr. Garcia said. “I chose an internship at UT Southwestern because of the location and the reputation of the institution. The affiliation with Parkland and Children’s Medical Center Dallas was most appealing while in college.”

As an ER intern, Dr. Garcia shadowed resident physicians in Parkland’s Emergency Department. Most of his time was spent translating and providing assistance that did not involve direct patient care. After graduating with his Bachelor of Science in 2011, Dr. Garcia went on to attend medical school at UTSW. In 2015, he became the first Conrad internship program participant to graduate from UT Southwestern Medical School.

“When I did my pediatrics rotation, I fell in love with pediatrics. ‘I could be happy doing this,’ I thought. Then I fell in love with neurology. Each specialty felt good,” he said. “But then I remembered emergency medicine and thought, ‘I can see all of these in the Emergency Department.’”  

He completed his residency in emergency medicine at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Texas, and currently works at Medical City Plano in Plano, Texas. 

“Both the Conrad Leadership Program and UT Southwestern Medical School were great experiences, and I am grateful to have been part of both,” Dr. Garcia said.

Aaron Williford

Revenue Accountant

Portrait of Aaron Williford

While not all interns go on to careers in medicine or research, the job skills learned in various departments throughout UTSW supply the foundation for pursuing fields that are just as prominent.

Aaron Williford, a 2012 and 2013 UTSW intern from the Dallas Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program (MIFP), works in finance and transitioned from intern to full-time employee at Chevron in October. Since 2008, the Dallas MIFP has helped 2,570 high school students in the Dallas and Richardson areas. For seven consecutive years, UTSW has open its cubicles to sophomores and juniors in search of career exploration.

“I worked in Health Information Management and the Office of Accounting & Fiscal Services,” Mr. Williford said. “Ultimately, the biggest thing I learned from working in those departments is that accounting is needed for any industry. I realized finance and accounting could be the industries for me.”

After graduating from James Madison High School in Dallas in 2014, Mr. Williford attended Texas A&M University-Commerce, where he received a degree in accounting in May. He hopes to continue as a finance professional and earn a Master of Science in analytics.

“Those two summers at UT Southwestern gave me a chance to expand my network and develop my career interest in business as a teenager,” Mr. Williford said. “I really believe had I not been able to intern, my life would be a lot different. I was given a chance to think more for myself, and having a summer job motivated me to see college through and keep learning.”

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