Record number of high schoolers participate in Mayor’s intern program

Technical Support Supervisor Carl Campbell shows intern Aileen Mendez how to do inventory at one of the Department of Biophysics’ labs.
Technical Support Supervisor Carl Campbell shows intern Aileen Mendez how to do inventory at one of the Department of Biophysics’ labs.

Aileen Mendez, a senior at Trinidad Garza Early College High School at Mountain View College, had never heard of the field of biophysics before coming to UT Southwestern for an internship.

“I knew about biology, and about physics, but that was as far as it went,” said Ms. Mendez, who now has a strong interest in chemistry after working in UT Southwestern’s Department of Biophysics. She was in and out of the laboratories – although not conducting research – and the offices. Ms. Mendez worked but, more importantly, absorbed what it meant to be part of an academic medical center, where groundbreaking discoveries and medical advances are the goals.

Under the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program, she was one of 36 Dallas-area high school students to benefit this summer from the unique work experience available only at UT Southwestern.

“UT Southwestern is a proud and longtime supporter of this program, providing our community’s high school students with exposure to real-life work experiences,” said Kimel Hodges, Assistant Vice President for Diversity & Inclusion and Equal Opportunity. “Receiving mentoring and coaching that expands upon what their teachers and parents provide is a real growth opportunity. Students gain not only marketable experience, but insight into an obtainable future.”

As with many of the other students, the internship experience planted a seed. Ms. Mendez is now interested in chemistry, and hopes to attend either the University of North Texas or UT Dallas.

 “This is the sixth year for UT Southwestern to host the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program on our campus,” said Regina Walton, Human Resources Manager, who was in contact with the interns virtually every day they worked at UTSW.

“Each year has been better, in both numbers and participation for us. In 2012, we had nine interns, and in 2017, we had nearly 40. The support that our managers have given to the students and the exchange of knowledge taking place here is demonstrated over and over again as we see them returning as applicants to our Medical School and as future employees within our organization. The gift is not just in the giving, but in the reciprocal return on this very necessary investment.”

Students who participated in the internship program, and the areas in which they served

Nafeesa Abiola, Transplant Administration; Ashley Aguilar, Sponsored Programs Administration; Maria Ayala, Transport; Flyinfoluwa Ajayi, Diversity & Inclusions and Equal Opportunity; Ajla Ajdinovic, Hospital Human Resources; Noor Ali, Transplant-KPL; Michael Alvarez, Facilities Management; Nathaniel Barrett Jr., Materials Management; Kynnedy Brown, Accounting; Savannah Davis, Materials Management; Yudit Del Rio, CUH Nutrition; Jacqueline Diaz, Sponsored Programs Administration; Oscar Diaz, Transport; Nathaniel Gomez, Sponsored Programs Administration; Kendrick Henson, Surgical Supplies; Natasha Johnson, Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs; Ami Kamara, Ambulatory Imaging Support; Thao Le, Sponsored Programs Administration; Tsion Leta,  Ambulatory Imaging Support; Ariana Lopez, Transplant Administration; Jesus Maldonado, Communications, Marketing, and Public Affairs; Aileen Mendez, Biophysics; Jasmine Nunez, Organizational Development and Training; Alexis Ojeda, Materials Management; Janeth Perez, Clements University Hospital Nutrition; Tiana Phillips, Zale Lipshy University Hospital Nutrition; Tiarra Poole, Human Resources; Lornee Pride, Surgical Supplies; Jimmy Ramirez, Accounting; Erica Renfro, Transport; Janae Rimmer, Transport; Aolany Sanchez, Surgical Supplies; Jerah Maria Sanchez, Surgical Supplies; Kiarra K. Smart, Environmental Services; Alexis Stephens, Zale Lipshy University Hospital Nutrition; Thomas Tolliver, Office of Student Inclusion; Briana Torres, Environmental Services; Jacqueline Valdez-Ortiz, Transplant-KPL; Brenda Vera, Materials Management; and Madison Zialu, UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.