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GPS students join internship program at Banner Gateway and MD Anderson

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Four GPS high school students, young women, pose in their scrubs for a group selfie at Banner Gateway Medical Center.One of the largest non-profit hospitals in the United States opened its doors to Gilbert Public Schools students who are interested in the medical profession. Banner Gateway Medical Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center welcomed students from Campo Verde High School Highland High School and Desert Ridge High School to their internship program in November. Over the course of several months, the students will have the opportunity to learn all about what happens in a hospital, including the medical and non-medical career opportunities available. 

“I’ve never had an internship, so this Banner internship is really important to me. I’m so glad that I got into this program,” said Sophia Lu, a senior at Highland High.

Lu is among the eight students chosen to participate in the program this year. The students will get to visit various departments, including perioperative services, rehab services, genetics, radiation and more. In addition to shadowing opportunities, they will also learn additional soft skills such as interviewing skills, professional communication, proper work attire and how to be part of an effective team. 

“I’m really bad at communicating, so the interview process really helped me dig into my communication skills. This internship will also help me see how doctors communicate with their patients,” Lu said.

Lu has dreams of becoming an OBGYN. She’s had the opportunity to shadow at a clinic owned by a family friend, but she’s never been able to explore a hospital. Tori Barrera, a senior at Campo Verde, has some hospital experience working as a volunteer transporter at Banner Gateway. She works early morning shifts before school, helping to dress gurneys, pick up and deliver lab results and other tasks. 

“I’m mostly in the back area of the floor, where patients and families don’t go, or I’m downstairs most of the time,” Barrera said.

A photo of the outside of Banner Gateway Medical Center in Gilbert, AZ.Barrera wants to become a cardiovascular or orthopedic surgeon. Her goal is to eventually create medical centers in developing countries. The internship with Banner will allow her a chance to learn more about what hospitals have to offer.

“I’m looking forward to seeing other parts of the hospital like inside the practices, because right now I don’t get to go into any of the rooms,” she said, “It’s a really great way to immerse yourself in the career field.”

Taking advantage of opportunities like internship programs is extremely important, especially for high school students who need to consider life after graduation and what it will look like for them. Shinita Thomas is a former Highland High student who is currently enrolled at Arizona State University. She is studying biological sciences. During her junior year at Highland High, Thomas was a student in the Banner Gateway program.

“It gave me a sense of what internships and jobs would look like for me. I feel like the internship, as a whole, was a lot of shadowing experience, where we shadowed people within the field or they presented us with information about their work,” she said.

Thomas isn’t quite sure about what career she wants to pursue, but she is set on working within the healthcare industry. 

“Healthcare is something that aligns with my values, so I see myself as part of it in some way,” she said.

An outside photo of Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center in Gilbert, AZ.Current Highland High student, Anmary Thomas, has always had a passion for science, especially since her mom works at MD Anderson. She is really interested in learning more about radiology through the program, and what it’s like to have a job in that particular field. She ended up applying for the program after hearing about it from the college and career liaison at her school. She nearly missed the deadline, but that didn’t deter her from submitting the application.

“Even if you think you won’t get it, I say go for it,” she said, “I did it a little at the last minute, and now I’m so grateful that I’m in the program.” 

The internship program divides the students into two smaller groups of four, which allows them to get a better experience and get to really know the students from the other schools.

“I think it’s cool to meet different people with similar interests, and later on, even if you are in different fields, you can contact them and see how it’s going,” Thomas said. 

Written by Kailey Latham