Paid internship program allows local high school students to explore careers

MADISON, Wis (WMTV) - The Madison Metropolitan School District partnered with UW-Madison to give kids in high school a chance to explore a future career in health care and veterinary medicine.

The LEAP Forward internship program is part of the district’s Personalized Pathways initiative, designed to let kids try out their interests through a summer internship at one of seven campus sites, including the School of Veterinary Medicine and University Health Services.

17 high school students from around the district participated in the program this year.

Students work Monday through Thursday for a total of 16 hours. The interns are also enrolled in one UW-Madison credit hour, where they learn more about post-secondary and career opportunities in the field.

Jill Medenwaldt, a certified veterinary technician at UW Veterinary Hospital, said the interns get a chance to work in the hospital.

“They’ve done a bandaging lab, they’ve done a suture lab, this morning we did a microscope lab so it’s been very fun for them to get some hands-on,” she said.

Student Amy Zhao said the program has helped guide her interest in being a veterinarian.

“Getting to try things a little bit before you actually go and fully commit to it-- it’s really nice,” she said.

Another student, Treynasha Rolack, said she might not want to be a vet, but getting a taste in the profession has helped spark her interest in the health field.

“I either want to be a dermatologist, but I wouldn’t mind being a vet tech because you really get to know the patients,” Rolack said.

Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Ruthanne Chun, said the excitement of the kids as they get their first hands-on experience with treating animals is special.

“It really makes you remember what you start out with and how much we’ve learned over the years going to school, and working with veterinary students is very different from working with high school students, but the enthusiasm and the energy of high school students is what has been really fun,” she said.

Assistant Director for Student Employment in the Office of Student Financial Aid, Justin Mumford, said the program was not only aimed at exposing students to future careers, but also to get students connected to the UW-Madison campus.