High school alliance students look back on program's first year

by Lisa Spellman, UNMC public relations | May 10, 2011

As the 32 students in the inaugural UNMC High School Alliance class prepare to graduate Thursday, two seniors reflect on their experiences from the last school year.

One student -- Ben Wichelt of Bennington High School wants to be an optometrist. The other -- Daisy Gonzalez of Omaha Benson High School -- wants to be a pediatrician.

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Ben Wichelt
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Daisy Gonzalez
Both say the alliance moved them closer to their dreams.

What do you like the most about the UNMC High School Alliance?

Wichelt: I enjoyed meeting new people from the different high schools. I really enjoyed working in the anatomy lab this last semester. The alliance definitely offers more hands on opportunities than my high school would have been able to offer.

Gonzalez: I like how the program is set up so that you can experience so many different areas in the health care realm. And even in the different courses, it seemed like every day we were studying and learning about something new.

What are your future plans and how has the UNMC High School Alliance influenced those plans?

Wichelt: I plan to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to study pre-health, then attend a school of optometry and eventually become an optometrist. Coming into the program, I was very naive about the health field in general and taking these classes has helped me solidify my decisions of what I want to do and given me a better understanding of what it takes to earn the degree.

Gonzalez: I want to become a pediatrician and would like to study at UNMC for medical school. I feel the alliance really prepared me for those future classes, especially the anatomy course.

What has been your best experience in the UNMC High School Alliance?

Wichelt: Working with Dr. Sam Sanderson in his lab during the biomedical research class. It was a different side of medicine I have never been exposed to before. And it was very rewarding to see how his 20 years of research led to a breakthrough that could be a platform for new drug therapies.

Gonzalez: My best experience would have to be working with the cadavers. When we first began it was so new and awkward but then once I got use to it, I really enjoyed it. What's really great is we got to go over the whole body and learn so much about it.

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