February 2021 Newsletter

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February 2021 Newsletter

In January we opened our winter and spring group job shadow opportunities and 475 students from 37 different high schools signed up. We are ready for a productive and engaging spring!


Girl Power! Two Former WLC Interns Now Members of the CRPD

Two former female WLC law enforcement interns are now members of the Cedar Rapids Police Department (CRPD): A’Alyiah Watkins, a former Jefferson High School student, and Hallie Kephart, a former Marion Home School Assistance Program student.

A’Alyiah completed two internships with WLC while she was in high school. She first interned with the Community Corrections Improvement Association then interned with the Cedar Rapids Police Department in the spring of 2017.

“I wanted to be a police officer since I was really young. That is the only thing I wanted to do,” says A’Alyiah. “My internship helped me see what police officers do on a daily basis and I was able to go on ride-alongs. All that definitely helped me determine I for sure wanted to be a police officer.”

In 2019, A’Alyiah joined the force and became one of the first African-American female officers employed by the CRPD (the only other African-American female officer was decades ago and only for a short time). Being one of the first is a title A’Alyiah is proud of.

“I have talked to several younger kids and they’re like, ‘I don't think the police department is for me because of the color of my skin.’ But once they hear about my experience and my path, I feel like they are more open to the possibility,” says A’Alyiah. “Hopefully I will start seeing a lot more women of color on the force. When I was younger, andHallie Kephart, another former WLC student, also recently graduated from the Cedar Rapids Regional Academy and is now completing her field training. even when going through the internship, I’d never seen an African-American female officer. I hope when younger girls, or boys, look at me, they are able to say this career could be for them too.”

Hallie Kephart, another former WLC student, recently graduated from the Cedar Rapids Regional Academy and is now completing her field training.

“I had several police officers as coaches growing up who were huge influences on me. That kind of inspired me to go into law enforcement,” says Hallie. In 2018, WLC coordinated an internship for Hallie with the Jones County Sheriff’s Department.

“That internship was my first step on the path to a potential career in law enforcement and it definitely solidified my wanting to go into that career. I also gained a lot of good contacts, that I still have, from the Jones County Sheriff's Department, which played a big part in me getting hired at Cedar Rapids. I had two recommendations for my resume from contacts I made in the internship.”

Both of these amazing women have such passion for their work and our community. We are proud we were able to help them on their path to where they are today. Thank you for everything you do for our community, A’Alyiah and Hallie!

Virtual Internships — Still a Great Way to Gain Career Exploration Experience

Dylan Kurt is a busy junior from North Linn High School who plays several sports, including basketball, and has an interest in journalism. Last summer, Dylan had the opportunity to intern with The Gazette through a placement set up by WLC.

“Through the internship I learned professionalism, responsibility, organizational skills, and the importance of creating and maintaining positive relationships,” said Dylan. “Career exploration and workforce preparation are both essential to aDylan Kurt, is a busy junior from North Linn High School who plays several sports, including basketball, and has an interest in journalism. student’s educational journey. It gives students like me a chance to explore their interests while learning about themselves as well.”

Even though most of the internship was done virtually, that didn’t limit the value of the experience, according to Dylan. “Although I never got to actually meet my host, J.R. Ogden, in person, I learned a lot from him and I was very glad he was in charge of my internship. We would FaceTime every week to go over content, which was very helpful.”

As part of his internship, Dylan had five stories published in The Gazette and The Gazette Online, which he cites as the most rewarding part of his internship. Check out his final story here. Thank you to The Gazette for stepping up to provide this virtual experience for Dylan.

Fall 2021 internship portal opens March 8.

STEM IT UP! WLC Celebrates Engineers Week

Feb. 21 – 27, 2021, is Engineers Week, and WLC is celebrating how engineers make a difference in our world and our everyday lives. To recognize Engineers Week, WLC is launching STEM IT UP!, a new video series that showcases amazing women who are making a difference in the world through their careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), with an emphasis on women in engineering.

This is the first year WLC is hosting the video series event. Changes were made to transition it to a virtual format and broaden the audience to include all area middle school students. Historically limited in the number that could attend due to logistics, going virtual opens this experience to many more students. So far, 13 schools have indicated they are planning to share this resource with over 1,100 students. Also new this year, WLC will be randomly awarding 30 KICK Camp Scholarships to students who participate in the event.

Events like STEM IT UP! can truly have an impact on students and their plans for their future. Liz Asai, vice president of dermatology at Digital Diagnostics andTo recognize Engineering Week, WLC is launching our first annual STEM IT UP! “event.” one of the STEM IT UP! speakers, demonstrates how true this can be.

“I didn’t really know what engineering was until my senior year of high school — which is embarrassing because I went to a math and science magnet school. There was an event called Intro to Engineering where one of the speakers talked about not wanting to choose between pursuing computer science and a career in music, so he ended up working at his dream job building ‘Guitar Hero.’ His definition of engineering was science plus passion. As a kid who loved science, but wanted to get out in the world and build stuff, it seemed like a great fit.”

The video series will be released on the WLC site on Feb. 17 and will feature female speakers from Collins Aerospace (the founding partner of this event), Digital Diagnostics, Linn County, SE Iowa STEM Advisory Council, Coe College, and Kirkwood Community College. Hopefully through this event we can get more students, especially girls, interested in the lucrative and in-demand field of engineering.

University of Iowa Health Care has been working with WLC for over 15 years, helping students discover their passions. UIHC has been a pivotal partner for us in this difficult year. They worked with us to host nine virtual group job shadow days in the fall, hosting over 135 students, with more opportunities available this spring. The team also provided career speaker videos for our virtual speaker library and STEAM Institute. UIHC staff will also share their expertise with students via a new platform WLC supports through the iowaIN.org Connection Lab. This new platform will allow UIHC professionals to share their career expertise with middle and high school students and educators throughout Iowa.

Thank you, UIHC, for sharing your time, talent, and knowledge with our students!

University of Iowa Health Care has been working with WLC for over 15 years, helping students discover their passions.

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