WALLENPAUPACK - Career Coordinator Mrs. Colleen Edwards, Wallenpaupack Area High School, continually discovers ways to connect actual college and working experiences to high school course work.  

Many times, students have a vague understanding about how their high school courses are the basis for future college work and careers; being able to have college students or professionals discuss how particular high school courses impacted their success enables current high school students to recognize the value of course selection and class work.

On Tuesday, December 20th, Career Coordinator Mrs. Edwards arranged for two 2010 Wallenpaupack alumni to talk to AP Biology, Allied Health, and students interested in health care careers about their undergraduate and graduate experiences.

Kyla Wentz attended Penn State University as a Biology Behavior Health major and is a graduate student at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. After completing her four-year undergraduate degree and two year graduate program at Chatham, Kyla will sit for her national certification and state license in August. Kyla began her presentation to approximately forty students by stating that six years ago she had been a high school student who was unsure of what direction she would take.  Kyla explained that after being treated by a physician’s assistant while at Penn State she became interested in pursuing that degree. 

She told the students that the physician’s assistant program is rigorous and urged, “Take challenging high school courses so that you prepare yourself to learn in college. As soon as you have an idea about which field you intend to enter, research the required coursework, and learn about the field experience hours so that you might begin to help yourself to succeed now.”

Chatham’s physician’s assistant program is a medical doctor based model that emphasizes problem-based learning. As a second year student, Kyla is completing her five week, medical rotations: Obstetrics and Gynecology; Pediatric Dermatology; Psychology; General Surgery/Bariatric; Pediatric: Outpatient Services; Emergency Room; Family Medicine; Internal Medicine; and Pediatric Oncology. Kyla loves pediatrics.  She has helped to deliver eight babies and hopes to work with children in the future.

Trisha Gibbons, a senior, observed, “Kyla was very enthusiastic about her work. Listening to her discuss her clinical experiences and learning about the various specialties that are required during physician’s assistant training was extremely interesting.”

Additionally, Jill Alderfer is finishing a seven-year Doctorate of Physical Therapy, which consists of four years at Drexel University and three years at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. She discussed what students might expect if they decide to pursue such a degree and echoed Kyla’s commentary about the difficulty of the program. She encouraged the high school students to work hard and spoke about the importance of time management.

Breanne Petrowski, a junior, commented, “I was relieved to hear that both of these successful women told us that we could accomplish anything if we were willing to work hard to earn it, and although we may not know exactly what we want to do, we will figure out a direction by trying different things.” Jill attended Drexel University and attained a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. During this time, Jill completed a six month, co-op experience with Good Shepherd Penn Partners (GSPP) as an inpatient rehabilitation unit therapy aide.

Later, she transferred to GSPP’s sports medicine clinic, Penn Therapy and Fitness, which is located on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus. After which, Thomas Jefferson University accepted her application.  

The program consists of four clinical rotations in various outpatient and acute care facilities. During her third clinical rotation at the Universal Institute for Rehabilitation in Livingston, NJ, Jill spent ten weeks working with patients who have chronic, traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord injuries.

In conjunction with her professors, Jill is conducting global health and aging spinal cord injury research. Jill will sit for her national board certification in April.