Teamwork, communication and self-discipline are all skills rising Centre College sophomore Haley Akers ’22 (Danville, Kentucky) says she’s gained through her Centre experience—both in the classroom and as a member of the College’s swim team—and now she’s applying that preparation to her summer medical internship at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida. Akers was one of 25 interns selected for the intensive six-week Summer Scholars Program. The experience is providing a fully immersive, hands-on opportunity in the medical field she plans to pursue.
An intended biochemistry and molecular biology major and mathematics minor, Akers is putting her skills to use throughout her three assigned medical rotations at the clinic: Cardiothoracic surgery, Interventional Cardiology and Breast Oncology Surgery.
“Hearing words that go way above my comprehension—and that I cannot even begin to spell for purposes of looking up later—has fueled my desire to learn more in hopes of someday being on a medical professional’s level,” she says. “This motivation will continue to push me in the years to come.”
A typical workday for Akers includes observing in the operating room and behind the scenes of various procedures, such as: pre-op, post-op, round, pathology specimen dissections and “lots of note taking.” She attributes her preparation for this work to her Centre classroom experience.
“Centre has prepared me for this internship position by teaching me self-discipline, strong study habits that encourage learning, and pushing me out of my comfort zone to achieve at the next level.”
As a student-athlete, Akers also claims that her time on the College’s swim team has contributed to this preparation.
“Centre has taught me how to work with a team, which is crucial to success in all areas of the medical field.”
She acknowledges that the “hierarchy of the medical team, procedures during surgery, and a positive patient experience” are built on communication and teamwork. Both attributes, she says, have been reinforced through her Centre athletic experience.
The collaborative relationship between Akers and her Centre professors has also proven to be a driving factor in her success, as she credits a great deal of her classroom preparation to January Haile, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry & molecular biology and chair of the chemistry program.
“Having her as a professor my first semester at Centre laid a firm foundation for study habits and self-discipline to follow in the future,” she says. “In addition to being challenged by Dr. Haile, I have built a strong relationship with her that will continue in years to come.”
Akers also points to the Centre Commitment—a guarantee that every student will study abroad, engage in an internship or research opportunity and graduate in four years—for providing her the opportunity to learn outside the traditional classroom and athletic setting in order to gain real world experience.
“Internships are excellent opportunities to further your passions for a particular field or lead you to a different area of interest,” she explains. “They’re also a great way to build connections that can be useful for future opportunities.”
Akers plans to attend medical school after her four years at Centre, with aspirations of becoming a dermatologist or interventional radiologist.
“My time at the Cleveland Clinic has been spent with some of the top medical professionals in their particular fields, and therefore, has been quite a learning and humbling experience,” she concludes. “This internship experience has supported my career ambitions by fueling my desire to learn more.”
by Amy Clark Wise and Makenzie Dries ’21
August 2, 2019