UW PEOPLE Program Internship at
Lessons in Living
First row: UW PEOPLE Interns Melissa Lozano (l-r), Jazmine Simpson, Karla
Maldonado and Helena Lara
Second row: Agrace Hospice’s Dawn Barrett (l-r), Kathy Schraith and Brenda
was truly scared.”
“Before I came to Hospice, I actually felt very sad about it and I kind of felt uncomfortable,” added Melissa Logano, a student from Menominee
Indian High School in Shawano.
The Agrace staff had some apprehensions as well.
“I think there was a little bit of nervousness on my part,” said Dawn Barrett, clinical team manager for Agrace’s care access team. “Were we
putting together a strong enough program where these girls were going to feel like they are bringing something home from their experience
here that was going to add to their future endeavors? It was putting all of the puzzle pieces together, getting the rest of the agency involved. I
knew the expectations for these students. We looked at the expectations of the PEOPLE Program and how we could reinforce those here and
provide them with an opportunity that would build on their previous activities with the PEOPLE Program.”
Over the course of their six-week internship, the PEOPLE students experienced all aspects of Agrace’s operations.
“It wasn’t just the doctors and nurses,” Barrett emphasized. “They were able to experience the janitorial staff, kitchen staff and receptionists.
They had talks from spiritual grief counselors and finance. They got to see all of the little pieces that go into a greater healthcare system. They
had shadowing experiences with the staff on the in-patient unity. They had interaction with patients and families there. They sat with our triage
nurses and listened to phone calls as they came in. They got to see how the nurses did some problem-solving over the phone. They spent
some time with reception staff and saw not only how they greeted our guests here in the building, but also how they redirected general phone
calls as they came in. They aren’t just answering phones at reception. They are doing a lot of initial, emotional support for families and patients
as they are calling in. They also spent some time with the unit assistants, looking at some of the clerical responsibilities on the units. And then
we had two afternoons where we had folks from all over the agency come and give 15-20 minute presentations on what their role was and
how it played into the big picture of our patient care system.”
It was just what the students needed.
“Agrace has really opened my eyes again to seeing how big the health care field is and how a company can have so many positions,” said
Helena Lara, a student at Madison West High. “I think this experience has reassured me that I do want to be part of a change in the future and
be part of the diversity in the field in the future. I want to be a nurse practitioner and make a change in our community. The most memorable
thing was probably seeing how the nurses and doctors were really impacting people and how they were sympathetic to the patients and their
families. Teamwork is really what helps with the level of care they give.”
The students also learned that there is more to healthcare than just taking someone’s temperature or dispensing medicine. It’s all about
“One of the most memorable things that I experienced here was probably the Mission Monday videos, just for the fact that they really show you
what Agrace is about,” said Jazmine Simpson, a student from La Crosse Logan High School. “They opened your eyes to the fact that the
workers aren’t just checking on patients and then leaving. They actually get to know their patients and they actually take that time to make sure
that they get the best experience that they possibly can and their families too. And that’s not something that you see at a hospital.
“And it wasn’t just the students who were learning. Their presence impacted Agrace as well.
“The experience has been beneficial in both directions,” emphasized Kathy Schraith, the director of human resources. “Our staff and
leadership who participated in this program have walked away with a really heightened sense of where the interests are of the students who
are coming into the field and what we can be focusing on and preparing for to better meet the needs of our future workforce. The questions that
these students asked were very thoughtful and insightful. And I think any time one of our staff members pauses to answer those questions,
they learn more about themselves and their own approach to their practice as well as just answering the question for the student.”
The students were exposed to death on a weekly basis. But they learned about compassion and a perspective on how to view the end-of-life
experience. And in doing so, they also learned something about living.
“One man’s wife was here,” Maldonado said. “And she wasn’t really responsive, but she knew he was there. He held her hand and he was
saying, ‘Honey. I love you. You’re my best friend.’ And he told me how long they had been married. I tried not to cry. So when I started to shed
tears, I started to tie my shoe because I didn’t want him to see me cry. I tied my shoe for like three minutes. The nurses read to them. It was
truly beautiful to see that. The nurses loved them. And even though his wife was dying and being in this situation, he was still in love with her.
And it was truly so beautiful. It’s something I will never forget.”
And they also learned something about dying.
“It’s amazing how the patients are,” Simpson said. “I saw a patient last week where she just got admitted here. And she was in a lot of pain,
but she just kept joking around and laughing and kind of ignoring the pain. It was an eye opener. Although you are in pain, you can still enjoy
what life has to offer.”
All of the students stated that they would stay in touch with Agrace if they attend UW-Madison in a volunteer or paid capacity. And one gets the
sense that Agrace would welcome them with open arms.
“No matter who you are and no matter who we are, I think each of us has arrived at where we are in our careers, to some degree, due to some
opportunity we were given at some point,” Schraith said. “And to have that chance to pay that forward is really an honor and that is what I
have heard from everyone within Agrace who has had the chance to be part of this program.”
It’s the start of something good at Agrace.
By Jonathan Gramling
On the road to earn admission to UW-Madison or another
institution of higher learning, UW-Madison PEOPLE
Program students learn a lot about life and careers
through the workshops and seminars they attend
throughout their high school career in addition to learning
excellent study skills. They also learn through real-life,
hands-on experiences through their summer internships
in fields that they have expressed an interest in.
A new internship experience this summer was one at
Agrace Hospice where students could learn about the
breadth and depth of the healthcare field. Four PEOPLE
interns selected Agrace where they spent their
afternoons shadowing different personnel during their six-
week internship. The students also knew that they were
coming to a facility where they would deal with end-of-life
“When I first heard the word hospice, I was like, ‘Oh my
goodness, death,’” said Karla Maldonado, one of the
interns and a student from Racine Case High School.
“That was my initial reaction. I was going to be
surrounded by death and I was going to be so emotional
about it because I have never seen death first hand and I