April 2021 Newsletter

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April 2021 Newsletter

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From Intern to Business Owner to Internship Host — Experience Comes Full Circle

As a senior in high school, Sarah Graham completed a veterinary internship through Workplace Learning Connection with All Pets in Cedar Rapids. Her internship experience opened her eyes to the various jobs available in the veterinary medicine field and helped her decide to pursue a career as a veterinarian.

Sarah attended undergrad at Iowa State University and went on to complete veterinary medicine school there as well. Today, she is known as Dr. Sarah Graham, owner and veterinarian at Graham Animal Hospital in Center Point. In 2016, Sarah and her husband, who is also a vet, saw a need and opened their practice.

“My WLC internship was pivotal in getting me to where I am today,” says Sarah. “The internship showed me that veterinary medicine was something I truly wanted to pursue, but it also helped me understand that it would beGraham Animal Hospital competitive and a lot of work. Veterinary medicine is not all the glamour you see or think about. I was able to see the ‘not so much talked about’ side of being a vet. It is not just puppies and kittens all day. I got to see the sad parts and even the business aspects of it.”

Sarah is now trying to pay forward the opportunity provided to her by WLC by hosting interns at her clinic.

“I understand how important these experiences are,” she says. “Anything students can do to get exposure before they make a decision is hugely helpful. My team and I also benefit from hosting students; it gives us a different outlook on the job. The team loves to feel like they have an impact on students’ lives and they like to pass on knowledge and share what they are proud of. It’s a great way to give back to the community. Plus, the commitment of taking on an intern is minimal. It goes so fast. You get to know that person, develop a relationship, and you have the opportunity to have them come back in the future.”

Future MD/PhD Found His Career Passion in High School

One of the best parts of our job at WLC is when former students reach out and fill us in on where their career exploration journey has taken them. Recently, Daniel Pape, a student in the MD/PhD program at the University of Iowa, reached out and acknowledged how his early WLC work-based learning experiences confirmed his desire to go into medicine and put him ahead of the curve when applying to MD/PhD programs.

Daniel graduated from Xavier High School in 2013. While in high school he participated in a WLC Junior Medical School Day with University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and completed an oncology and histology internship with Physician’s Clinic of Iowa (PCI). The internship provided the clinical experience he eventually needed to apply to the MD/PhD program.

“The programs, when you’re applying, require both clinical and research experience. Throughout my undergraduate studies I actually had a little more research experience, but the internship I did with WLC was my main clinical experience, actually. Having that let me focus on the other parts of my application and was really helpful,” Daniel says.

Daniel greatly enjoyed his clinical experience through his internship with PCI but also developed a passion for the research side of things during his undergradDaniel Pape work at Notre Dame. Those experiences led him to the combined MD/PhD program at the University of Iowa. In the program, students complete their first two years of medical school, take their first set of boards, and then complete three months of clinical work. They then transition out of medical school and do their PhD and research work.

“I have been in the research lab for about a year and a half now. And I know I am on the right path,” Daniel says. “My research focus is on energy metabolism; it’s very biochemistry based. Basically, we study how cells make energy, make the building blocks, proteins, carbs, fats. When people think of metabolic disease, they often think of diabetes and obesity, but early metabolic problems are important for diseases like cancer or genial diseases.”

After his research phase is finished, Daniel will complete his clinical rotations and then move on to a basic residency. “I haven’t decided exactly what I want to do after residency, but I think I’d like to be a practicing physician and have some capacity doing research too. From a specialty perspective, my current research focuses on gastrointestinal and liver diseases, so I think I’d like to continue focusing on that — at least that’s the plan right now, but that could change. I have a lot of time and still a lot of rotations to go!”

Stories like Daniel’s are why we do what we do every day, and we are so proud of the success he has found. “You all do great work,” says Daniel, complimenting the WLC staff. “I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the experiences you provide really help students focus on what they want to study when they get to undergrad. Being able to know your focus right out of school saves a lot of money and time.”

Volunteer Appreciation Week: April 18 – 24

National Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 18 – 24, and WLC wants to thank all of our amazing businesses and volunteers. It has been a trying year, but our partners have stepped up huge to help us ensure our students still have access to career exploration experiences, even during a pandemic! In a year where most experiences had to move to a virtual format, our partners rose to the challenge and didn’t miss a beat. This year alone, our partners volunteered over 10,500 hours to help support job shadows, internships, and virtual career speaker presentations. These experiences represent just a few of the things our partners do for us to help support our students in their career exploration journeys.Thank You

“This experience has opened very positive doors for me. It has led me to a job and probably a lifelong career. I could not be more thankful for this opportunity,” says Colton Borst, an Anamosa High School student who completed a fall internship with Rexco Equipment, Inc.

Our businesses and volunteers truly make an impact in the lives of students like Colton. Because of their support, our students’ futures were not on hold during this difficult year and we were able to continue supporting the development of Iowa’s future workforce.

WLC has always had amazing support from our communities, but there is always need for more support, especially in high-interest industries such as computer programming, healthcare, research, and engineering. If you are interested in getting involved, please visit our volunteer page to learn about all of the opportunities, both in-person and virtual, that are available!

The Gazette has been an amazing WLC partner over the years. They regularly host interns, job shadow students, and participate in career speaker events. We can always count on the team at The Gazette to help support our students. Thank you!


Contact WLC

Linn County Regional Center
1770 Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, Iowa 52233
Phone: 319-398-1040  
Fax: 319-398-1041 

Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa
2301 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville, Iowa 52241
Phone: 319-887-3970  
Fax: 319-358-3102