Internship Program Student Highlight

Monthly recognition of Internship students
Photo: Internship Student of the Month
Over the past eight years district leadership has committed to expanding opportunities beyond the four walls of the classroom. Learning starts in the classroom, with students exposed to professional skills (soft and hard skills) but truly flourishes outside of school.  No better example of this is our district’s internship program.

As part of the nationally recognized Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS), our program allows students the opportunity to explore various career strands including Healthcare, Business, Trades, Service, and Teaching. Students attend school for the morning hours and report to their career site in the afternoon. This unique program allows students to gain valuable experience in the field of their choice for over nine months. The district is aligned with mentor partners at over 220 sites throughout the Pascack Valley and beyond. No other high school district has such a comprehensive program in Bergen County.

This month, the district would like to highlight the internship experience of Sofia Alarcon, who is a student at Pascack Valley. Sophia’s internship falls under the Health Care strand.

Sofia Alarcon
Pictured: Marianne Vallely-Clinical Staff Supervisor, Sofia Alarcon- PV Intern, Ashley DeCesare Medical Assistant

Sophia’s placement is at AFC Urgent care in Paramus. “Being a part of an internship has been both an incredible learning experience as well as an incredible way to foster friendships. The staff at AFC are extremely kind, supportive, and smart. Every day I come in, and I leave learning something new. I feared that since I was only a high school student that I would not be given many opportunities to learn about the medical field, which would then make me feel uncertain about continuing into this field. However, it is completely the opposite. I am able to do a variety of different tasks, which allow me to learn new skills and add to my knowledge about medicine. The providers (Drs, nurse practitioners, physician’s assistant and medical assistants), are all exceptionally intelligent, helpful, and friendly. I am able to approach anyone from the staff with any questions, and all are always more than happy to help me. I am truly honored to be
given this opportunity to work here, and I am eternally grateful for this staff.” Sofia plans on studying medicine as her college major.

The program staff at AFC Urgent care loves the program.  “I wish they had this when I was in High School. We love it and our patients love the idea of this program. We teach them and they help us.” stated Ms. Marianne Vallely, Clinical Staff Supervisor. Ms. Leah Dokyk, Regional Director of Operations continued, “The internship program is amazing because Pascack Valley Internship Coordinators matched the personality and ability of the interns with our needs. It has been a mutually beneficial arrangement and we are very grateful to be a part of it”.

Sofia’s father, Jose, also spoke highly of our program, “The internship program for our daughter Sofia has brought us such wonderful joy and satisfaction after only 6 months.  Having a daughter wishing to pursue a career in healthcare, this program brought her and us (as parents) the opportunity to open a window/door into this world, and providing her some real-world experiences not immediately available to all people, let alone high school students. As a huge advocate for this internship program, consistently promoting my child’s positive experiences to other parents across the US, I believe this program for us, has fulfilled its intent beyond expectations. This is evident and further bolstered by her commitment to continuing her path in healthcare. Thank you to the program directors and all the staff that have worked so hard on this program.”

We are extremely proud of Sophia for her commitment to her studies and her internship.  For more information about the program, how to become a mentor site, or general questions about opportunities beyond internship please reach out to the following:

Dr. Erik Gundersen, Chief School Administrator
Mr. Joe Orlak, District Supervisor of Professional Studies jorlak@pascack.org
Ms. Laura McSpirit, PV Program Coordinator lmcspirit@pascack.org
Mr. Paul Henry, PH Program Coordinator Phenery@pascack.org
Mrs. Jen Errity, District Community Facilitator jerrity@pascack.org
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