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2020 & 2021 GROWTH internship testimonials

The GROWTH (Guided Real-World Orientation and Work Training at the Hospital) internship program launched in 2020 and continued in 2021, in response to the shortage of African American and Hispanic/Latinx team members. The program creates a career pipeline between Benton Harbor area youth and Spectrum Health Lakeland and offers an inclusive culture of love and respect while helping students develop a diverse set of skills for the workforce. The program included a combination of guided real-world experience and work training at the hospital.

Included three internship types

  • Clinical: examples include nursing, respiratory, physical, speech and occupational therapy, clinical education, radiology, and diagnostic imaging
  • Non-clinical professional: examples include human resources, diversity equity inclusion, and population health
  • Non-clinical service spaces: examples include safety and security, and nutrition services


Alexandra Aguilar-Alvarez: 2021 intern 

I am extremely thankful for the opportunity at Spectrum Health Lakeland this past summer. My experience in the program was incredible. When we were given a list of the departments we wanted to choose from, I immediately chose the Emergency Department (ED). There is not a day in the ED where you don’t have anything to do. A big thing that nurses, nurse techs, and doctors showed me was how important teamwork is in the department. For the hospital to run efficiently and effectively, as well as address urgent medical concerns, the staff in the ED works in teams. Each team member plays a large part in helping the patient. It’s exceptionally rare for any team member to be left on their own. If you are thinking of doing something in the medical field or even if you are undecided, I recommend applying for the GROWTH internship program. You can help yourself get ahead of the game by getting more experience talking to staff who can answer any questions you have. As it did for me, the internship will really help you expand your skills and opportunities in healthcare.

I’m currently attending Coloma High School and plan to attend Michigan State University next fall to become an RN.


Alexandra Aguilar-Alvarez
Ariana Burgeson

Ariana Burgeson: 2021 intern 

My experience at Spectrum Health Lakeland really gave me an idea of what working in a clinical setting would look like and reaffirmed my desire to work in healthcare. I gained a lot of useful skills like professionalism, networking, and public speaking. When we were challenged to act professionally, it really boosted my confidence and made me feel like I was part of the team. Additionally, we were given countless opportunities and resources to expand our knowledge on the system as a whole. My favorite part of the internship was our Friday listening sessions. Those sessions made me feel heard and like they truly cared about how we felt through the entire process. After completing this internship, I have found a new respect for anyone who works in the healthcare system and recommend this internship for any youth who is interested in health care. 

I’m 17 years old and a senior at St. Joseph High School. After graduating high school, I plan to attend a 4-year college to pursue a degree in exercise science or kinesiology to help me on my path to become an athletic trainer or physical therapist.



Camari Whitehead: 2021 intern 

The GROWTH internship program gave me a whole new opinion of the medical field. Before this internship, I thought hospitals consisted of just doctors and nurses, but the variety of different positions we were introduced to is massive! The staff at Spectrum Health Lakeland never failed to make me feel welcomed. Being a high school intern, I had the fear of being treated like a child or overlooked, but it was the complete opposite. The leaders of the departments I worked in (Ortho-Neuro and Cardiac Telemetry), never failed to explain step by step the tasks they wanted me to perform. This gave me an entirely different perspective on SHL as a whole. I am so grateful for this opportunity because it helped me confirm my ideal plan for the future. Thanks to this program, I got a head start on my future and put in time toward becoming a nurse. I am now enrolled in a CNA class and based on what I learned over the summer, the class has been much easier than I could have imagined prior to not being in the program.

I am a 16-year-old junior and attend Michigan Lutheran High School. After graduating, I plan on becoming a registered nurse anesthetist.


Camari Whitehead
Janiya Rollins

Janiya Rollins: 2021 intern

This summer, I was offered the opportunity to participate in the GROWTH internship at Spectrum Health Lakeland. “Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?” This was a question that I had not thought about and it forced me to think about a career path. During my internship, I saw someone perform a cardiac procedure and watched someone care for a patient physically and emotionally. I was also able to explore different healthcare departments and work with registered nurses, doctors, anesthesiologists, social workers, and other staff members. I received a CPR certification for healthcare providers and received CNA training and skills. I rotated through two departments during the internship, Hanson Heart Center Prep and Recovery and Cardiac Telemetry. When I worked in the Hanson Heart Center, I was welcomed with open arms. Although the experience was great, something told me I was in the right place after shadowing my first cardiac procedure. The GROWTH internship program taught me to be open to new things, that every patient is different, every healthcare position is different, and that it all matters. I’m now interested in being a cardiac nurse. Now, in 5-10 years I see myself working in the hospital doing incredible work. 



Kailey Higgins: 2021 intern

I gained a lot of experience at Spectrum Health Lakeland. I realized just how much I want to work in healthcare, and I cannot wait to hopefully join the SHL team again! This program allowed me to renew my CPR and first aid certification. I also met a lot of amazing people who helped me tremendously. The internship really changed my outlook on our local health system by helping me see how difficult it can be for healthcare providers, especially in the middle of a pandemic. Overall, I am so happy and grateful that I got the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing program.

I’m 17 years old and I go to Lakeshore High School. My future plans include graduating high school with my CNA license and finding a job at either a hospital or long-term care facility. Eventually, I would love to get my nursing degree from a college that specializes in pediatrics and work in a health clinic.



Kailey Higgins
T Masters

Tékeidra Masters: 2020 & 2021 intern

I never miss the chance to fill my schedule with things that revolve around healthcare such as the Spectrum Health Lakeland GROWTH internship program that I’ve been fortunate to receive for a second summer. I am not the same intern or student I was last summer. My experience in working for a hospital is that the work is always different, yet vital, educational, and transformative. You learn something new each and every day. If anyone were to ask me about the one thing I’ve gained most from this opportunity, my answer will always be reassurance and security. All too often teens, including me, grow up with an idea of who and what they want to be in the future without the experience to back it up. It’s because of this same idea that 80% of college students change their major at least once. The program gave me the tools necessary to take my hopes of this career I wanted as a doctor and explore them. I know for sure that my ideas of success and having a sustainable life aren't just dreams, but goals and ambitions. When I am asked to describe the program, I simply say that it is the epiphany of pipelining dreams, solidifying passions, and investing in secure futures.

I will attend Valparaiso University on an academic scholarship majoring in Biology and minoring in Chemistry. My goal is to become a doctor.


Celina Robinson: 2020 & 2021 intern

My first days at Spectrum Health Lakeland are my most memorable; I was greeted by a kind-hearted and passion-seeking lady by the name of Shayne Taylor. I often think about the generosity she showed me and the other student I was paired with. One of the first things I did was sit in on a community forum with Spectrum Health President, Christina Freese Decker. This forum was helpful in understanding SHL’s plans for combatting COVID-19. I was highly impressed by the transparent and informative nature of everyone who spoke during the forum. The weeks following were filled with a plethora of new and exciting experiences. I got to make rounds in the ICU, became certified in CPR, successfully and skillfully intubated a medical dummy, witnessed a simulated vaginal birth, worked with a respiratory specialist, and much more. My time at SHL allowed me to understand all the behind-the-scenes in the hospital. I learned more than I could have asked for as an intern. It’s hard to think that there could be internships out there that are cooler than this one was. After all the hardships in 2020, it was heartwarming to have been given such an incomparable opportunity. I’m especially grateful for the connections I was able to make as well as for the lessons I learned working with leaders and administrative staff. I’ll never forget the welcoming persona of every person I had the pleasure of working with and hope to be just as selfless as they were.


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