By Ryan Clark
CHS Communications Director
Madi Kelly had an interesting first day on the job.
Working as a Program Coordinator at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Kelly — who graduated from UK with a Clinical Leadership and Management degree in 2020 — had recently been promoted from her clinical research assistant position.
But she took time out of her first day on the new job Monday to Zoom in with several other alumni to offer a digital helping hand as part of the Virtual Alumni Panel for the Summer Bridge Program within the College of Health Sciences.
The PATHfinders Summer Bridge program, free to all students thanks to funding from the CHS Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Grant, is a four-day program for first-year students designed to enhance both their personal and academic wellbeing. Its goal is to increase inclusivity and promote diversity within the College of Health Sciences at the University of Kentucky.
Madi, as well as her fellow alumni, provided sound advice about topics ranging from study habits to careers, cultural awareness to extracurricular activities.
“CHS really set me up well for the job I have today,” she said. “One of those ways was the opportunities to get involved.”
She told the group of about 40 students how working to obtain leadership roles and getting hands-on experiences helped her learn and achieve. “That was very beneficial to me,” she said.
Others like Jason Waddles, PT, DPT, a sports physical therapist at Orlando Health in Florida, said that not everyone knows what they want to do in their first year of college.
“That’s okay,” he said. “Find what you want to do.”
He suggested to try a lot of things. “The more well-rounded you can be, the better you’ll be at your job.”
“You can always find your path,” agreed Stephen Daming, a medical laboratory scientist at Good Samaritan Hospital. “But you also need to develop really good study habits. Those will carry on with you throughout your professional career.”
Daming also emphasized another theme that developed during the hour-long conversation: networking. “Meet as many professional people as you can,” he said.
Others brought up the importance of job shadowing, to be able to further gauge interest in a topic or profession.
Ariel Allman, MS, MBA, ATC, CSCS, originally began her career as an athletic trainer for small colleges, including Asbury, Midway and St. Petersburg in Florida. Now, she works as an injury prevention specialist for Amazon — a job she wasn’t even fully aware existed.
“I walk the warehouse and observe how people are working and moving,” she explained. “We want to make sure we can prevent injuries. It’s so new, I’m excited to start with them in this journey.”
Samantha Price, PT, DPT, an HHS grad, works as a Pediatric Physical Therapist at Dayton Children's Hospital. In a normal day, she’ll see about 10 patients, playing games, exercising and interacting with children. She says one of the biggest benefits of her education was the prospect of doing research.
“Keep an open mind and explore those opportunities,” she said.
Then there’s Maria Rodriguez Aulick, who attended UK in the HHS program. She met the man who would become her husband, earned her graduate degree here and now will stay at UK (with her husband) so they can complete their residencies — hers will be in Emergency Medicine.
“It’s been the support system for me,” the Florida native says of CHS. “The people have been so important to me, especially when it’s been difficult for me to get home sometimes.”
Students said they felt the alumni gave helpful advice.
Elayne Sidebottom, a junior PATHfinders Peer Mentor Co-Coordinator, and a Clinical, Leadership, and Management student, said the presentation was especially helpful.
“It went great — we have students of all different CHS majors, so it gave them a variety of perspectives from those different majors and career paths,” she said. “I even learned more about the different fields and I’m about to be a senior!”
Griffin Nemeth is from Mason, Ohio, and is majoring in HHS on the pre-med track.
“During the alumni speaker presentation, they all said what their favorite part of the College of Health Sciences’ was,” he said. “I really enjoyed hearing what they each found special and unique about CHS and what their experience was like.”