Every year, Alphapointe invites students in high school and college to participate in the Career Enhancement Internship Experience program. Erin Walden participated in the program in the summer of 2022 and we caught up with her to ask about her experience.
Q&A with Erin
Tell us about you…
I am from Wichita, Kansas. I grew up as the youngest of four kids in my family. I am the aunt to two nieces, a nephew, and two more on the way! I am currently in Leavenworth, attending school at the University of Saint Mary. I am a Biomedical Sciences major, hoping to attend medical school at Kansas City University School of Osteopathic Medicine. I am the captain of the soccer team, so I spend most of my free time in season on the pitch. My go to show is New Girl when I need a laugh. I spontaneously bought a ukulele last spring. When I need to unwind, I like to teach myself songs.
Tell us about your education…
I always had an interest in medicine, but I had a hard time articulating any specific reason. I felt that I was an empathetic person and loved the classes, but as the time to apply to medical school approached, I was sort of in a rut. This was about the same time that my ethics professor at school told me about an internship with the Bishop Sullivan Center. I was applying for a summer research program at the time, but I wasn’t passionate about the choice, so I decided to give the nonprofits on the internship list a look. I remember scrolling through and thinking they were all great choices, but none of them really struck me as a match, until I saw Alphapointe. I was immediately inspired by the mission, especially the involvement with the youth. I thought that maybe I wanted to go into pediatrics or ophthalmology. It was an unorthodox approach to learning more about medicine, but I applied to work with Alphapointe and when I got matched, I was ecstatic. There were some people that shook their head at the pre-med student that turned down a research opportunity to go work at a nonprofit, but it truly was the best thing I could have done.
Tell us about your internship experience at Alphapointe…
During my time at Alphapointe, I was blessed to be able to work on a multitude of projects with many different individuals in the organization that never stopped impressing me. I enjoyed working in the team environment to prepare for the C&C Group Alphapointe Pro-Am, Technology Camp, the S.T.E.P. program, and Adventure Camp. I loved working with the S.T.E.P. boys every week and getting to know them. The project that will have a lasting impression on me was undoubtedly Adventure Camp. Adventure Camp gave me so much joy and assurance in what I wanted to go in to. The kids were absolutely amazing to be around. I found my “why” for going into medicine as I was spending time with such inspiring kids. The memories that I made at the pool, around the firepit, and in the midst of a water balloon fight are some that I will truly never forget.
What did you know about Alphapointe before your experience?
Being from Wichita, I had not heard about Alphapointe before this internship. I think that Alphapointe is an incredible organization that empowers visually impaired individuals to recognize their gifts and potential and help them to live the lives that they dream of. There is so much joy in the close-knit community formed by clients and employees that makes it a very special place. I was blessed to spend a summer at Alphapointe. I learned so much about visual impairment and was inspired every day by the youth I was able to work with. I redefined what I thought I knew about empathy by taking a summer to walk next to individuals with vision impairment and sharing in their joys and struggles.