Award-winning job program gives students hands-on experience

High school senior Makena Ala-Ilima Daley learns about personal protective equipment from Alex Riggs, Infection Control Specialist

Cascade High School Senior Makena Ala’ilima-Daley carefully peeled off her latex gloves, both “infected” with a blue dye that represented contagious disease.

The lesson illustrated the importance of personal protective equipment in the medical field, taught by Infection Control Coordinator Alex Riggs at Cascade Medical this spring. It was just the hands-on experience she looked forward to when she enrolled in Career Connections, a job shadow class at Cascade High School.

“Throughout my rotation, I learned basic skills from different departments around the hospital, including Acute Care, Emergency, Radiology, and Lab,” she said. The experience re-affirmed her decision to study pre-med next year in college, she added.

Established in 2015, Career Connections has sent more than 50 upperclassmen to about 20 businesses around the region to learn more about careers in health care, law, graphic design, business, journalism, and environmental science.

Cascade Superintendent Bill Motsenbocker presented Cascade Medical – one of the biggest participants in the program -- with the Community Service Award last week at a luncheon hosted by North Central Educational Service District.

“Cascade Medical has done a phenomenal job of welcoming our kids with open arms,” he said. “We have a lot of kids who have an interest in the medical field, and they can job shadow all of the departments and learn what it takes to do the job.”

Cascade Medical offers eight highly-coveted job shadow rotations a year. Students apply with professional resumes, cover letters and job interviews. After their rotation, students present what they learned in front of their supervisors and the Career Connections instructor, Katie Schmitten.

For participating businesses, the Career Connections program provides an opportunity to invest in future leaders in their field.

“All of us feel a commitment to mentor a new generation of young people, and help them be successful,” said Diane Blake, Chief Executive Officer at Cascade Medical. “It’s a service to the community. Even better if those students return home and join us.”